Approaches in Mission

Different approaches

I have recently been in a bit of a dialogue with people that follow Sunday papers with regard mission. The question was posed "Why are we rubbish at it?" I have made some comments about being in it for the long haul and sometimes its our mindset to mission that is a barrier.

Our mission is to share God's love and ultimately see people experience and have a life changing encounter with God.

There were those in the discussion that seemed to favour direct evangelism, after all there should be a question of urgency in our Gospel message.

I see the value in any approach. I have been aware however that timing is vital. We do have to ask God what to do. There have been times where a team has asked to come and when we prayed about it we felt it was a "No". I have also seen teams sweep in and out of a village or town claiming x number of conversions, with little or no thought about follow up and discipleship....and sadly few people have managed to link in with a local church and stick with it.
Of course God can use that again later.

And of course I have also seen that kind of thing done well....In fact I am testimony to that...22 + years on.

This dialogue has prompted me to ponder my church mission statement

My church developed a mission statement a few years ago:
"to be a people radically devoted to Christ, unconditionally committed to each other and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside God's family with the Gospel of Christ".

This has been challenging me lately as this is a BIG statement. It sounds good and is even a high expectation. The statement is fully loaded however.

If I break it down we have

1. A people radically devoted to Christ.

2. Unconditionally committed to each other.

3. Relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside God's family with the Gospel of Christ.

1. A people radically devoted to Christ
If we look at the first section, in particular "radically devoted".

What does that mean exactly?

Radically according to is
"2. in a complete or basic manner; thoroughly; fundamentally.

and devoted is

zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection: a devoted friend.

Without delving too deep into this statement we come into words like fundamental, zealous and ardent, all of which are very strong deep rooted words.

To fulfil this aspect of the statement alone would require commitment to our the Word and our own journey and discipleship.

I would also point out that these words are not always welcomed in our society today as we have a tendency to lean towards "each to their own" and a melting pot of beliefs and religious tolerance. People don't like fundamental anything.

2. Unconditionally committed to each other.
This again is a tall ask. Of course I am committed to my church. Having been there since my commitment 22 years (give or take time away, although it has always been my home church)

I have seen it grow and develop (there have also been times of pain, where I could easily have walked away) I would like to think I could say YES LORD emphatically to that part of the statement.... but the truth is that in a church that size there are people that I don't or vaguely know. So I can't say Yes entirely. I know that I could empathise with someone and pray for them.... so in that way I could commit to them.

There is a part of me though that knows that as humans we naturally have deep and shallow relationships, therefore I am limited in what I can commit to....and who I would share with. Some only what to know the superficial stuff, few get the depth of who I am. That is however natural in relationships. However, in principle I am committed to people and even those I don't know well, I can pray for in their time of need. BUT it is still HUGE.

3. Relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside God's family with the Gospel of Christ.

It is the relentless bit of this that challenges me here... says "that does not relent; unyieldingly severe, strict, or harsh; unrelenting."

I have a passion for my city, I would like to see it and God's people thrive, so yes I can say that this statement I can relate with. There are limits to what I can do and if I am unyielding all the time, I will burn out, no question. This is where the cogs of the church family and organisation comes into play.

As an organic organisation we need to be united and committed to our vision. Mission for me is local, God has given me a heart for my city - it is no more or less important to Oversees mission.
Having said that however being a missionary in my home city has its pros and cons.....I am pushed back to point 2. Unconditionally committed to each other.

It's a BIG statement whether you break it up or not.....a work in progress. Organic, evolving and an unfinished task.

I have come to the conclusion that we simply have to be obedient to what God is asking of us. I have known organisations to get so caught up in thinking that "their way" is right and the only way.

I don't think there is only one way to do long as you are listening to God and open to His Spirit and letting Him guide and lead you.

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