“Who is responsible for global missions? Even though most Christians will never move overseas, the Bible enlists every Christian and every local church in the grand project of global missions. The local church is the engine of world missions.”
In November I met with the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church. He was very encouraging about the work God intends for me and Bethany although he didn't think we were a good match for their local church strategy for global missions. Nevertheless, he gave me a copy of the 9Marks book Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global. I thought the author, Andy Johnson, did an excellent job of laying out a Biblical foundation for missions. I’ve only begun the book, but I’m looking forward to reading it all as my schedule permits. Here are some points I thought were relevant and challenging.
I know I had to struggle with the question personally during freshman year of college: “What’s MY role in global missions?” I was confronted with the truth of the Bible that a dying world needs Jesus the Savior and that Jesus commanded us believers to participate in His salvation plan for the world. It became overwhelmingly clear that the Holy Spirit is ultimately responsible for global missions and He wants to use us feeble humans in the process! I think it’s far too easy and common as an individual Christian and church member to sit back and “let the professionals do missions”. I was compelled by Isaiah’s response to the Lord’s call to bring a message to the nations: “Here am I, Lord. Send me!”
“Each one of us individually is called to obey Christ’s command to make disciples who know and obey his Word.”
This call to obedience is all at once challenging, thrilling, overwhelming, and life-changing. I find great comfort and encouragement that God not only calls us. He equips us as well.
In college, for me, there was a structure readily available with Campus Crusade for Christ to be actively involved in evangelism on campus, at Spring Break training conferences, and Short Term International Missions projects and to follow through with discipleship training for new and revived believers. I had never heard about or received any training in evangelism and discipleship from the Lutheran church where I grew up. After college, the real challenge was how to implement obedience to Christ’s command in the context of secular work and in communion with the local church.
Johnson provides and expounds upon four biblical principles that describe the mission of the church for the nations:
- The mission of missions is primarily spiritual
“Evangelism and establishing Christ’s church is our first priority in missions.”
I recognize there are inestimable needs locally and around the world. Christians are certainly called to meet many of those needs in love wherever the Lord has identified them. Whether as an individual or in a group, these service projects might mean feeding and clothing the poor, providing medical care, building homes and schools, adopting orphans, etc. These are all loving acts of mercy and are necessary, but they are not strictly missions. I found a good definition of missions from a University Baptist Church Fayetteville posting on Types of Missions: “True missions always involve evangelism, though evangelism does not necessarily involve missions. One of the primary goals of missions is church planting. Evangelism usually brings new believers into an existing local church.”
- The mission belongs to God, for His glory, on His terms
“As long as God cares about his own glory, and as long as he remains committed to getting glory by showing mercy to sinners, all those who trust in him are secure, and his mission will never fail. He intends it to go forward by the simple declaration of the gospel and the gathering of his children into churches, so that everyone will see that salvation is God’s work, and he will get all the glory.”
This statement is so powerful and grounding for me. I frequently remind myself and others that our mission to France is really God’s mission to France. He has invited us to join in what He’s doing there and we are inviting partners to join in this work. Anything we do or accomplish is all for His glory, not ours!
- God gave the mission to the local church
“…The local church must be central to identifying, training, sending, and supporting.” What incredible privileges we have: (1)to be invited into fellowship with the Godhead having Jesus dwell in us through the Holy Spirit and (2)to participate in God's salvation plan for mankind. We’ve been given the mission to reach the whole world with the Gospel, indeed a Great Co-mission! As we gather together as believers in the local church, it is then our responsibility to identify those called to be missionaries, to train them so they will be effective in the field, to send them out and to support them in whatever ways needed (physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially).
- The Bible tells us all we must know to faithfully fulfill God’s mission
“God has given us a treasury of instructions on the global mission of the church – what it is and how to approach the mission in faithfulness and joyful confidence.”
I’m so glad I don’t have to figure out on my own what missions is all about, or exactly what He wants us to do in France. I have confidence in Christ Jesus about He wants us to do by His Holy Spirit based on His Word: “Go and make disciples of all nations”(Matthew 28:18), “Preach the good news to all creation”(Mark 16:15-16), “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”(2 Timothy 2:2)
What do you think your role is in helping the local church go global? Respond to this blog and we can talk about how God is calling you personally to be involved in His mission locally and globally.