In Part One, (link) I raised the question, “Could it be that the church is spending millions of dollars and sending tens of thousands of volunteers to engage in activities that regardless of what we call them are really not “missions” at all?” In Part Two, (link) I argued that “missions” by its very nature flows from “mission” and offered a biblical definition of the “mission” of the church. Today, I want to offer some thoughts on how a congregation can make sure their ministries are always “missions,” working as an outflow of the “mission” given to the church by the Lord Jesus Christ. First, a definition of “missions is helpful:
“Missions” is the utilization of biblically sound and culturally relevant strategies, methodologies and resources as the church glorifies God by striving to fulfill the Great Commission; intentionally proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to all peoples and nations and by intentionally making mature, reproducing disciples of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ
In this definition multiple phrases capture the contemporary evangelical mind. The theologian gravitates toward “biblically sound;” the next generation leader to “culturally relevant;” the vocational missionary to “all peoples and nations.” Each of these phrases is significant but may I direct your attention to “intentionally proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to all peoples and nations and by intentionally making mature, reproducing disciples of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ.” Therein is the key to turning ministries into “missions.” Intentional Gospel proclamation and disciple-making is paramount for missions to occur.
So, how do you make sure that your mission activities are actually missions? Here are seven practical steps designed to insure every ministry activity is a mission activity.
#1 As you prayerfully plan your mission trip/project, make a conscious commitment to prioritize the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Remember, spiritual needs are always more important than physical needs. They are eternal!
#2 Prayerfully develop a culturally relevant strategy for the proactive, intentional communication of the Gospel and the proactive, intentional making of disciples. Be sensitive to the cultural nuances of the people group to whom you will minister. Learn how the people receive and process information. Is their culture a literate culture or an oral culture? What is the heart language of the people? How can we communicate most effectively?
#3 Prayerfully identify culturally relevant evangelistic methodologies that will work well within your evangelistic strategy. How will you share the message of the Gospel? Will you use Bible storying, proclamation evangelism, media evangelism, apologetics, personal evangelism, all of the above, etc.?
#4 Prayerfully train ministry participants to effectively utilize the selected methodologies for evangelism. Do not assume evangelism comes naturally for mission trip/project participants. They need training!
#5 Prayerfully plan and conduct ministries in your local community that will give each mission participant the opportunity for “real life” experience in sharing the Gospel. Let the participants learn by doing.
#6 Prayerfully select materials to give to new believers, helping them initiate in their lives the basic spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study and witnessing.
#7 Prayerfully connect new believers to a biblical faith community (a local New Testament church) for assimilation into the body of Christ and continued spiritual development. In underserved/unreached or unengaged areas this may mandate a strategy for the planting of new churches.
We must understand, to fulfill half of the Great Commission is to fulfill none of the Great Commission. We are not called to make decisions we are called to make disciples. For our ministry activities to be missions we must have a strategy in place for intentionally proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to all peoples and nations and for intentionally making mature, reproducing disciples of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Then, and only then, will our ministry activities be biblical missions!
Oh, and as you can see, don’t forget to bathe everything in prayer! When it comes to missions, prayer is essential!