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Archive for Missions


Barna on Global Missions Trends

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I realize that the primary focus of American churches during the global pandemic has been and continues to be re-opening and re-engaging their congregations, but according to Barna’s most recent report, churches also have a lot of work to do in the area of re-engaging in global missions and evangelism.

According to his report titled, Trends Impacting Global Missions and Evangelism, American Christians have shifted in their understanding as well as their approach to global missions.

What do you think?

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Pew Research has released a new study on the increased hostility toward religion and religious freedom around the world. You can view the study by clicking HERE.

Categories : Missions
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I came across this dated piece last week. I don’t know the original author, but thought it was good and wanted to share it.

Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.

Week after week, month after month, and year after year, these, who called themselves fishermen, met in meetings and talked about their call to fish and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be the primary task of fishermen.

Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further, they said “the fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans, such as “Fishing is the Task of Every Fisherman,” and “Every Fisherman is a Fisher.” They spent considerable time discussing new fishing equipment, fish bait and places to fish. This was done in nice buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The one thing they didn’t do, however, was fish.

They taught numerous training classes on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, how to approach fish, and how to feed fish. Those who went through the training were given nice “fishing licenses” to hand on their walls, but they never fished. They did, however, laud the founding fathers who did great fishing in the past and praised them for handing down the tradition of fishing.

After one inspirational meeting on “The Necessity of Fishing,” one young man actually went fishing. The next day he reported that he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. He became so busy he quit fishing so he would have time to tell about his experience.

Or course, there were those of were critical of the fishermen and the fact that though they claimed to be fishermen, they never actually fished. They were very hurt when someone actually said that those who don’t go fishing are not actually fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. And yet, can one be considered a fisherman if year after year he or she never catches a fish?


(Missional) Psalm 2

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“I will declare the LORD’S decree: He said to me, ‘You are My Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will shatter them like pottery'” (Psalm 2:7-9, HCSB).

Notice how Yahweh calls the kings his sons! This reveals how closely tied God is to his mission on earth. The relationship between the Father and the king imparted power and privilege as well as responsibility to mediate justice and equity to the people of God and to lead them in the way of true faith. What was clearly evident with the kings of Israel was even more evident in the Messiah. But I believe that relationship extends to the people of God today as we operate in the Kingdom of God as “Kings and Priests” (1 Peter 2:1-10).

God promised the kings that the nations would be their inheritance. This reminds me of God’s promise to the patriarchs of Israel (Abram, Isaac, Jacob, et al) that whatever direction they looked or where ever they stepped their feet would be their new land. Like those patriarchs, we are to extend the rule of God where ever our feet step. We are the presence of Christ where ever we are! The commission of Jesus to the church was to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. He has delegated the authority to spread the rule of the Kingdom of God where ever and whenever.

But reaching out begins with reaching up in prayer. God said that we are to ask Him for the nations. We are to begin in prayer, asking God to expand our territory and grow our influence. I think there are a lot of good things being done in the name of missions. People are giving sacrificially. People are participating in short term mission trips around the world like never before. New organizations and networks are popping up all over the grid to help facilitate mission work far and wide. All of this should be heartily affirmed. But it all begins with prayer. We can do nothing more than pray until we have prayed. But once we have prayed, God releases us to the nations to extend and implement the Kingdom of God. So what are you waiting for? Ask.


(Missional) Psalm 2

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Recently I did some work from Psalm 2 as a part of our church’s annual Global Missions Month emphasis. I felt led to speak one week on the role of prayer in the missionary enterprise, and came to Psalm 2. I was already familiar with verse 8, but what I found in the rest of the chapter was a huge blessing.

Psalm 2 is often quoted in the New Testament, both for its high claims for the person of God’s anointed and for its vision of the universal Kingdom of God. It clearly takes delight in God’s dominion here and now. It is the first of several coronation Psalms (aka Royal Psalms), which were compositions primarily concerned with the human kings of Judah who understood themselves to be uniquely authorized and empowered to rule as God’s own adopted sons. These coronation Psalms give some helpful insights as to how the kings of Israel understood themselves, their authority, their roles, and their expectations.

Like the other coronation hymns, Psalm 2 has layers of interpretation. In its most direct context, Psalm 2 speaks to the kings who were situated in Old Testament history. But there are also many allusions to the Messiah. What the human kings had been unable to do in Old Testament history, God would accomplish through the Messiah. Jesus, who would come in the future, would be fully empowered to usher in the Kingdom of God. But Jesus didn’t complete the work. He handed off the ongoing process of implementing and extending the Kingdom of God to the Church. So even though we are seperated by thousands of years, we can identify with Psalm 2 and see ourselves as the believing community of faith participating in the sentness described in this Old Testament text.

Psalm 2 begins with a cry of disbelief at the disbelief of the nations. “Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they cry, ‘and free ourselves from slavery to God.'” (Psalm 2:1-3, NLT)

The nations are presented as ones who have gathered in international conspiracy against the God of the universe. In their resistence they demand freedom and autonomy from God, insisting on their rights to self rule. Notice the astonishment of the author! Why?! Why can’t the nations see the goodness of God? Why can’t they observe his blessed ones? Why do they refuse to acknowledge God’s rule? Why can’t they see their resistence is futile?

Sometimes we want to share in that same disbelief as we look at our own world today. We scratch our heads and are, at times, admittedly confused at the rejection of God. But careful reading of the text reveals that the Psalmist answers his own question.

I recently read an interview that was conducted by one of our box office heroes. In the interview, the gentleman discussed his conservative religious upbringing and his fidelity to the church and its beliefs. He then went on to say that as he matured he found Christianity to be too “constrictive,” citing, “When I broke away from faith, I discovered myself.”

What the Psalmist is saying makes total sense: Disbelief is not just the rejection of God’s rule, its exaltation of one’s own self rule. That is why the nations rage.


The Price of Missions

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I think that we’re aware that missions has a price tag, but we usually think of the price in terms of the dollar amount we’ll give to the offering appeal. Denominations will make a large allocation toward missions work, and churches follow suit by devoting a sizeable percentage of their operating budgets toward the same. The point I’m trying to make is that we can affix a hard number to the price of missions, right down to the penny.

In Acts 13:1-3, God revealed an opportunity to a new church as they gathered in worship. The pricetag was high. God asked for 40% of their leadership team to be released from their teaching and leading responsibilities to carry the gospel even farther past the margins. Not only did God ask for 40% of their leadership team, he asked for their top two performers, Paul and Barnabas. Not to take anything away from the other three, but Paul and Barnabas are the names we’ve known since elementary Sunday School.

When God asks his people to make a commitment to reach the world, he’s going to ask for our best. He’s going to ask us to make a sacrifice that will be costly. God doesn’t broker in small change. He’s committed to reaching the world, and he’s committed to sending his people into the world. He’s not afraid to “ask for the check.” Come to think of it, God himself modelled this when he sent Jesus to the world.

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Where Does God Reveal His Plan?

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The church at Antioch was a worshiping community. They were sincere and devout, making worship the priority of their gatherings. Acts 13:2 reports, “One day as these men were worshiping the Lord, the Holy Spirit said…” (NLT). Here’s an important point for today’s church: God revealed himself to the church in the context of their worship. And when God revealed himself in worship, he also revealed his heart and his plan for the church. The closer you become to God to more clearly you can discern what is on his heart. So here’s a couple of thoughts about my observation.

Where do we most fully connect with the heart of God? Where do we go when we want to determine next steps for our ministries and churches? Regardless of what we say, our practice usually winds up betraying us. We seek to determine next steps in committee meetings or board meetings where little if any prayer is even offered. When the community of faith in Acts wanted or needed divine guidance, they didn’t call meetings. They got busy with their worship.

Do you expect God to speak to you in worship? Whether your worship is private and daily or weekly and corporate matters little. God has something to say if he can just find someone who is willing to listen. My prayer for each of us is that we will approach worship with an expectancy to encounter the living God who reveals himself and his plans to his church.

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The DNA of the Church

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Last weekend we began our annual Global Missions emphasis. Usually, these month long celebrations of missions and missionaries come packaged to church leaders to provide a supporting structure for the challenge to pray, give, and go. For some time I’ve personally been frustrated with missions promotions because they seem to polarize and distance the local church from the foreign field. So rather than speak on the routine subject matter associated with missions and missionaries, I chose to do some foundational work on the missional church strategy and how missions works within that model.

I chose as my text Acts 13:1-3, which reads as follows: “Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.’ So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way” (NLT).

The first observation about the text that I shared in worship last weekend was that sending was in the DNA of the church. The church at Antioch had been founded by disciples who had fled Jerusalem due to persecution. You can read about it in Acts 11:19-26. As the Holy Spirit had sent these disciples to Antioch to share the gospel, the Holy Spirit was again sending disciples from Antioch into more marginalized locations. I believe this act of sending was reflexive and natural for them because missions was in their DNA.

I’m fascinated that the church was so willing to embrace a new direction, especially given its limited history. I suppose they could have said, “We’ll engage our world when we are more established,” but they didn’t. As a people who had been together for less than 24 months, they were quite willing to respond to God’s leadership and join Him where He was at work.

I believe the more established something becomes, the more prone it is to exclusion. I can remember when my wife and I began dating. We were both in college and had a lot of friends. In the early stages of our dating relationship we could easily maintain and manage our friendships. But as our relationship deepened toward engagement and ultimately marriage, the more limited our relationships with friends became. In other words, the more established our relationship became, the more exclusive it became.

That principle is not just true of human relationships, its also true of organizations like the church. Within the DNA of the church of Jesus Christ lies the principle of sending. Regardless of its history, the church is rooted and founded with that essential component.

Tomorrow I’ll post my second observation about this important text. In the meantime, make sure to remember that establishment does not necessitate exclusion. Be true to your DNA.

Our associate found a great fund raising idea for our student ministry’s summer mission trip. It’s simple and effective! It’s called the “Wall o’ Money.” Here’s what he did. He took simple white envelopes and had the students decorate them, numbering them from $1 to $100. The envelopes were then displayed on one of the walls of our lobby outside the sanctuary. People were invited to take an envelope corresponding to the amount they would like to donate, insert the cash or check, and turn it in. It’s a simple idea, but here’s the genius behind it: if every envelope is taken, those numbers add up to about $5,000!

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A New Mission

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I grew up in a tradition that outsourced missions. The churches would receive three offerings each year for the purpose of supporting missions, and regularly calendared missionaries to come and tell us the stories of life serving God in some alternative hemisphere. My job was to learn to be the best Christian I could be and to leave missions to the professionals.

I find it ironic that today we’re witnessing the birth of the missional church. It’s ironic because the missional church was how church worked in the first century. We haven’t invented missional church or missional Christianity, we’re simply returning to the simplicity of mission as it was originally designed.

There is much to say about what it means to be a missional church or a missional Christian. If you search either of those titles on my blog’s tag cloud you’ll see plenty of thoughts from previous posts. But for my purposes today, I want to simply remind us that missional living is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus. Paul’s last challenge in this week’s paragraph from 1 Corinthians 15 simply says, “Become right-minded and stop sinning, because some people are ignorant about God” (1 Corinthians 15:34, HCSB).

Since verse 20, Paul has been sharing how resurrection hope extends to sustaining our faith between the time of our tranformation and our time of death. This includes our responsibility to our communities and our world, who are largely “ignorant about God.” Because of the resurrection, I have hope and can live with hope, but that hope is not isolated or self contained. It is a hope to be shared. This is why, more urgently than ever, we need to get our minds right and embrace our “sentness.” Jesus told the disciples that he was sending them into the world in the same manner that he had been sent into the world by the Father (John 20:21). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the church sending out men and women to serve in any hemisphere. But we can’t afford to have a mentality that subcontracts world evangelism. Your calling to live as a missional Christian is as profound as those who serve in the deepest and darkest parts of the world. Embrace it! There are plenty of people who are still ignorant about God. And chances are, they may live right next door to you!