This is part 4 of a 7-part series of blog posts centered on the theme, “What is a Missions-Minded Church?”
We have already seen that "A Missions-minded church is:
Part 1 – A LOCAL CHURCH"
Part 2 – A Church that TEACHES AND PREACHES THE BIBLE"
Part 3 – A Church with INTERCULTURAL EXPERIENCE"
It is my hope and prayer that these blog posts are both a blessing and a challenge to those who read them. Missions is very dear to me and it breaks my heart to hear people talking about being “missions-minded” but not having a biblical foundation for that statement. However, I hasten to confess that as I re-exposit these themes from Acts 13, themes which I have taught for years, I am challenged as well. I am far from perfect in my missionary mindset, but I hope that, along with you, we can journey together toward acquiring the mindset and the heartbeat that God has for worldwide evangelism and church planting.
Today’s blog post kind of piggy-backs on part 2, but not completely. Today, I want to give, in a somewhat shorter post, the simple idea that “A Missions-minded Church is…
Busy in the Ministry
“As they ministered to the Lord…” (Acts 13:2a)
Notice, “as they ministered…” They were already busy in the ministry.
And in today’s post, much of what I am saying applies to individuals in the church as well as the local church itself, so I will address both, although my main theme still centers on the local church.
Allow me to start with a personal story. My dad passed away in 2002. How I miss him! My dad grew up under Christian influence all his life. However, it was not until after he was married and had children that he came to the realization that he needed to personally accept the Lord as his Savior. But after he was saved, you should have seen him grow!
My dad never went to Bible college, but he had a broad knowledge of God’s word. He also was blessed with great wisdom and he had a way of packing truth into succinct sayings – some original, some not - but all wonderfully impactful.
From the time I gave my life to the Lord for full-time service as a senior in High School (1979-80) until his passing, my dad was one of my chief counselors. Besides my pastor, he was the one I went to for guidance and prayer. And I will never forget something he said every time I would ask him about God’s direction for ministry:
“You can’t steer a parked car.”
What an amazing truth that perfectly illustrates the thesis of this blog post! I can sit in a car and turn the steering wheel all I want but if the car is not moving, all I am doing is wasting effort and rubbing a flat spot in the front tires. But if the car is moving, all it takes is just a few fingers lightly moving the wheel to give and/or change and/or fine tune the direction of the automobile.
Dad was telling me, if I am just sitting waiting for God to move me or give me direction, nothing is going to happen. I need to be doing something…anything…in ministry and then be willing to let God take control of the steering and trust His direction for my life. "As they were ministering to the Lord..."
And let’s face it…hasn’t God already revealed enough of His will in His Word to get us moving in Christian service? My guess is that, with my given audience, I don’t need to spend much time reviewing what God has told us as far as our individual and local church responsibilities for evangelism, baptism, discipleship, prayer, etc. We know all this. So why are so many just sitting and waiting? I see churches filled with members who have been saved for years, have been faithful to every service, who have a great amount of Bible knowledge and yet do nothing, saying, “God hasn’t given me direction yet.” I see people who have theological degrees doing nothing and justifying it by saying, “God hasn’t given me direction yet.” Yes, He has!
And although this fourth point piggybacks on the second point of my outline. Here is where it differs. God may not be giving direction in missions because we are not acting on the first principles of His revealed will in love! “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” (I Corinthians 8:1) Teaching and preaching are essential parts of the missions-minded church but knowing is not the same as doing. God is saying that we need to be motivated by love to put into practice the things we have learned.
Individuals, do you want to know God’s direction for your life and if it includes missions? Get BUSY IN THE MINISTRY! Do what God has revealed of His will. Put your passions, talents, and gifts to work in your local church trusting God to lead you, and the leadership of the church to give you direction.
Churches, do you want to know God’s direction for your missions program? I would challenge you to GET BUSY IN THE MINISTRY! At the very least, the church needs to be examining the passions, talents, and gifts of ALL it’s members and putting them into ministries in such a way that, “the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16) (underline emphasis is mine - everyone is to be BUSY)
Also, examine what God’s Word has to say about missions. It may also mean altering some of the missions “program” of your church (assuming the church has a missions program). It may mean developing a theology and philosophy of missions, it may mean developing a missions policy. It may mean taking on some missionaries. It may mean training some choice members (yes, even leaders) toward cross cultural ministry.
One very practical way of sparking a true missionary mindset in your church, and to get truly active in missions, is to send the pastor and other leaders of the church on missions trips, especially to serve with the missionaries your church supports. And if your church has sent a missionary, you ought to plan on the pastor or some leader of the church visiting that missionary on the field regularly. Has your church done that yet? If it has, pastors share in the comments how it has changed your life! Has your pastor ever been to the field? And I am not talking about “Christian Tourism,” I am talking about sending him (or another leader in the church) to truly experience the field and participate with “sleeves rolled up” and “Gospel guns loaded” - to SERVE with the missionaries.
“But God may call the pastor (or other leader) to the mission field!” And what happened in our key passage of Acts 13:1-4? Does the church belong to the Lord or to us? If we are not open to the Lord steering the car the way He wants, He may not be willing to steer it at all.
As I conclude this post, I can’t help but think of the story of the servant of Abraham as he asks for God’s direction and blessing in carrying out the will of Abraham in finding a wife for Isaac. In Genesis 24, we see the servant traveling to the land of Abraham’s fathers. And when he has already acted on his master's revealed will, he pleads with God for further direction, which He gives. And in verse 27 we see the servant proclaim, “… Blessed be the LORD God … I being in the way, the LORD led me …”
A church with a missionary mindset, ready to send missionaries and be used greatly for God is ALREADY BUSY IN THE MINISTRY. Individuals seeking God’s will in regards to missions are ALREADY BUSY IN THE MINISTRY. God has revealed His will to us in His Word, regarding many areas of ministry. We need to be fulfilling those areas, demonstrating to God, and others, that our mind is His mind, our heartbeat is His heartbeat. THEN God will direct us in missionary activity that truly glorifies Him and gets us closer to publish the Gospel in every tribe, nation, kindred, and tongue.
Author's note: As I have worked on this series, I have tried to put out a blog post about once a week. For your information, it will be several weeks before I get to the next post. I will doing a missions trip with Adelphos, ministering with some of our missionaries along the Amazon river. Please pray for our efforts to yield a rich harvest of souls and to be an encouragement to our missionaries and the other brethren on the field. See you in a few weeks!