Missional Joy

The Proper Motivation for Missions

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

John 20:21 ESV

Missional is an attitude and an approach which recognizes that whether we are home, or away from our resident culture, we need to reach the culture for Christ. A missional mindset recognizes that North America is in the need of the gospel as the deepest, darkest parts of Africa. In short, missional means being a missionary where you are from your church to your culture and in your context.

Joy is that deep, supernatural fulfillment that comes in knowing that we are experiencing and expressing the one who is true satisfaction, Jesus Christ. Joy begins with acknowledging that we are unconditionally loved, graciously forgiven, and eternally kept in Christ. Joy is released in our lives when we cultivate Christ’s conscious, constant presence.

Missional joy is the overflow of the life of God in us. Missions becomes the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts for we have found satisfaction and fulfillment in Christ. We are not compelled to witness, but do so freely because of the joy that we have found in Christ. Our sacred delight was received by a life-changing encounter with the resurrected Christ.

There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command. It has been customary to speak of “the missionary mandate.” This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that it misses the point. It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel.

If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression. Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact?

The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like a fallout which is not lethal but life-giving. One searches in vain through the letters of St. Paul to find any suggestion that he anywhere lays it on the conscience of his reader that they ought to be active in mission. For himself it is inconceivable that he should keep silent. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). But nowhere do we find him telling his readers that they have a duty to do so . . . .

At the heart of mission is thanksgiving and praise. . . . When it is true to its nature, it is so to the end. Mission is an acted out doxology. That is its deepest secret. Its purpose is that God may be glorified.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 116, 127. (special emphasis and paragraphing)

HT: Desiring God


We Should Never Assume

Evangelical Essentials (Part Thirteen)

We persuade men [people].

2 Cor. 5:11 (NIV)

The Apostle Paul did not sit back and assume that people had grasped the gospel. He was actively engaged in overcoming their objections by persuading men and women to yield their lives to the Lord of creation. Paul actively participated with the Holy Spirit in attempting to win hearts to the loving Savior.

The Bible says that, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30 KJV). As Christ is living his life in us, we will be fruit bearers. People will want to come to us and pluck that fruit of the Spirit in order to be refreshed. That attraction is an opportunity from the Holy Spirit to bring them to Christ. We are called to “watch to see where God is working and join him.”

[Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God, Preteen Edition (Nashville, TN: Lifeway, 1994), 11.]

We must tell others what motivates us. What If I run out of  a room as fast as I can, how do you know for what reason I run? Have I looked out the window and seen my automobile being stolen? Is the phone ringing and I need to answer it? Is the building on fire and I need to save myself? How do you know unless I tell you? In same way, how do families, friends, and neighbors know the reason for my service unless I tell them that I am motivated by God’s love for me and my love for him? I must tell them.

Brothers and sisters, it is not enough to say that the liturgy contains the gospel message; Christ calls us to be proactive in sharing the message of the Cross.

Primitive [Early Church] evangelism was by no means mere proclamation and exhortation: it included able intellectual argument, skillful study of scripture, careful closely reasoned teaching and patient argument”

[Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 160.]

We should be mindful of the advice of Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, and other notables of the Great Awakening, “Pastors should be faithfully working toward entirely converted churches.” We should never assume that everyone in our parish knows our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must not take for granted that just because someone was baptized in a church or raised in a religious environment that they have an intimate, on-going, dynamic relationship with Jesus. We cannot assume the salvation of our congregations.

“The Church Is Mission”

Evangelical Essentials (Part Twelve)

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power. Be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Rev. 5:12-13 (NKJV)

During the early years of my Christian ministry, I desired to be a missionary to China. I read numerous biographies of James Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission. I studied the lives of the great men and women of Evangelicalism who suffered the loss of their own family members, friends, and fellow co-workers as they attempted to reach the areas of the world that did not know the gospel. Names like Watchman Nee (China), Amy Carmichael (India), C.T. Studd (Africa), Jim and Elizabeth Eliot (Ecuador), and Oswald Chambers (Egypt) resonated deeply within my spirit as people who loved Christ, walked in the Holy Spirit, and communicated the gospel clearly and effectively. God did not create an opportunity for me to go to China, but he did use that desire to burn within me the importance of sharing the gospel both near and far. In our self-centered culture, we often forget that God is on a mission, and if he is on a mission, then we are on a mission with him to make known the saving work work of Christ to every person, family, and nation.

Mission is the people of God intentionally crossing barriers from church to non-church, faith to non-faith, to proclaim by word and deed the coming of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ; this task is achieved by means of the church’s participation in God’s mission of reconciling people to God, to themselves, to each other, and to the world, and gathering them into the church through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit with a view to the transformation of the world as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom in Jesus Christ.

[Charles Van Engen, Missions on the Way: Issues in Mission Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1997).]

There are the five parts of the Bible. The God of the Old Testament is a missionary God, calling one family in order to bless all the families of the earth. The Christ of the Gospels is a missionary Christ; he sent the church out to witness. The Spirit of the Acts is a missionary Spirit; he drove the church out from Jerusalem to Rome. The church of the epistles is a missionary church, a worldwide community with a worldwide vocation. The end of the Revelation is a missionary End, a countless throng from every nation. So I think we have to say the religion of the Bible is a missionary religion. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable. Mission cannot be regarded as a regrettable lapse from tolerance or decency. Mission cannot be regarded as the hobby of a few fanatical eccentrics in the church. Mission lies at the heart of God and therefore at the very heart of the church. A church without mission is no longer a church. It is contradicting an essential part of its identity. The church *is* mission.

[John Stott, “The Whole Christian,” Proceedings of the International Conference of Christian Medical Students, ed. Lee Moy Ng (London: ICCMS and Christian Medical Fellowship, 1980),  46.]

All Three Persons Searching

The Searching Ministry of the Triune God

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Tim. 2:3-4 (NKJV)

Jesus was trying to make plain the searching, seeking, loving ministries of the Trinity—the Godhead. That lost boy was the lost world. That lost sheep was the lost world. That lost piece of silver was the lost world (Luke 15).

The picture that we must see, then, is the Father looking for the lost son. It is also the Son, the good shepherd, looking for His lost sheep. And it is the Holy Spirit, depicted by the woman with the light, searching for the lost piece of silver. Add them up and you have Godís picture of the Godhead working to redeem the human race. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are always seeking the lost treasure.

“That is why I eat with sinners,” Jesus was saying. “I am the Son, the Shepherd, looking for my lost sheep. My Father is looking for His lost boy. The Holy Spirit is looking for His missing piece of silver.”

Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in their search for the lost. That is our answer for the would-be critics. The Son of God gave the divine offering of Himself, the Holy Spirit conveyed it, and the heavenly Father received it! The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—the divine Trinity—were jointly engaged in the great and eternal business of seeking and saving lost men and women.

A. W. Tozer, Jesus, Our Man in Glory (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1987), 114.

On Having a Missional Mindset

Missional is an attitude and an approach which recognizes that whether I am home or away my resident culture needs to be reached for Christ. A missional mindset recognizes that the North American culture is just as much in the need of the gospel as the deepest, darkest parts of Africa. In short, missional means being a missionary where you are from your church to your culture and in your context.

Missional implies taking the approach of a missionary—being indigenous to the culture, seeking to understand and learn, adapting methods to the mission field—but winding up in the biblical form of a church.

[Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2006), xii.]

He Didn’t Say It


Preach and Live the Gospel

Faith comes by HEARING and HEARING through the WORD of CHRIST.

Romans 10:17

Mark Galli posts an excellent essay on the Christianity Today website that dispels the notion that Francis of Assisi taught, “Preach the gospel; use words if necessary.” Galli refutes the modern idea that talk is cheap and living the truth is the only requirement of preaching the gospel. However, Francis preached, Jesus taught, and the Apostle Paul declared the saving truth of salvation by faith through grace AND they lived holy and exemplary lives.

I’ve heard the quote once too often. It’s time to set the record straight-about the quote, and about the gospel. Francis of Assisi is said to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough-that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it. The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age. . . .

“Preach the gospel; use words if necessary” goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets and Jesus and Paul put on preaching. Of course we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns. . . .

That being said, a better saying (which you can attribute to anyone you like) is this: Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always.

Mark Galli, “Speak the Gospel” Christianity Today magazine, May 2009 (Web only).