God Directed Deviations

Christianity, Church, Ministry, Mission

Mission/Ministry ‘Inside’ The Church & ‘Outside’ Of It

10706549_10152772075980087_1075945135_nI know that discussions about being ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ of the church are theologically problematic at best.  Like the Apostle Paul addressing “Apphia and Archippus and “the church that meets in their home.”  The church (the people of God) locate themselves spatially (congregate) for a time in a place. Let’s put aside that debate for the purposes of this blog post.

From your perspective, what mission/ministry/service happens inside of church and what mission/ministry/service happens outside of it. Use the comment section to list 3-5 things for each, or give other commentaries.

Christianity, Church, Culture, Discipleship, Gospel, Making Disciples, Ministry, Mission, Missions, The Gospel

‘Working Out Your Own Salvation’ Happens Through Mission.

983799_10152767943860087_7921362813145839752_n“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

I often hear this verse being misappropriated and see it being misapplied.  To equate this call with mustering up our own sanctification, summoning up some inner strength to attain some higher spirituality, or cloistering yourself until such a time that you can meet the approval of your religious compatriots, is to sell your birthright for a half empty bowl of soup. It is, after all, God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  (Philippians 2:13)

The working out of ‘your’ (plural) (the corporate body of Christ’s) salvation, is done through mission, ministry, and service to others.  If there’s no mission in your life, you’re not working out your salvation, period!  If church leaders are placating a non-mission sentiment, then they’re effectively hamstringing their people’s salvation and killing the mission.  Mission is the conduit to personal growth, but it’s only effective when engaged with one another. It is unlikely that the 50+ “One Another” commands in scripture can be effectively worked out within modern-day church structures. They require mission.  If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we try to invoke God’s presence through various liturgies instead of being God’s presence to others in everyday life.

It is through mission that we make and become disciples of Jesus. (Matthew 28:19,20)  It is through mission that we preach and become the good news to all of creation. (Mark 16:15)  It is through mission that we testify and become witnesses, are sent and send others, give and gain understanding, and are empowering others and being empowered through the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:44-48)  It is through mission that the sedentary religious ‘go and get understand.’ (Matthew 9:9-13) Without these components of mission we’re left to working out our own station, stature, and standing within missionless systems.

The Aramaic Bible in Plain English translates Philippians 2:12 this way;

“Therefore beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not when I am near to you only, but now when I am far from you, all the more, with awe and with trembling, do the service of your life.”

Simply put, if you’re not on mission, you’re not working out your salvation.  If you’re not sending and being sent, you’re not sanctifying.  Finally, Philippians 2:12 is not to be used to instill fear in others suggesting they can lose their salvation, to guilt people into putting in extra human effort into measuring up to some man-made religious standard, or to judge someone’s spiritual state. Neither is it suggestive towards a works based salvation.  It’s an invitation to mission and the fruit of sanctification that comes with it.

A few questions:

1.  Is it true that without mission there’s little or no sanctification?

2.  What kinds of mission/ministry can happen within the local church?

3.  In your opinion, which is more biblical? “Getting and understanding to go on mission,” or “Going on mission to get an understanding?” 

 

 

 

 

Christianity, Culture, Discipleship, God's Kingdom, Ministry, Missiology, Mission, Missional, Missions, Morality and Ethics, Short-Term Missions, The Poor

Left Behind Reciprocity in World Missions

No, we’re not going to be discussing Nicolas Cage’s upcoming movie “Left behind” based on the wildly popular book series. In7645d926b1acff61607dae2f7949136c8aeb7cc1
fact, we’re not going to talk about eschatology at all.  Eschatology, is the study of what the Bible says is going to happen in the end times. We’re going to talk about what’s happening now in the current times.

Reciprocity, the practice of exchanging with others for mutual benefit, has been left behind by Western, and specifically North-American missionaries (short and long-term).  Here are some examples from indigenous people outside of North America:

An international graduate student related the story of the American family who graciously invited him and his family over to dinner after church three weeks in succession. On the fourth week, the student and his wife wanted to reciprocate and host the American family. When the students invited them, the Americans replied, “Oh, no. You’re the ones who need it.” For the international students, who hailed from a culture in which hospitality is a priority value, the relationship was over.*

A leader from Zimbabwe told a similar story from a different context. A North American pastor came for a visit, but his luggage was lost on the journey, leaving him with only the clothes on his back. When the Zimbabwean host tried to care for the man and buy him clothes, the North American refused. He communicated the basic message that he had come to give, not receive. The relationship struggled from that point on, because the North American was unwilling to let his host care for him.

Affy Adeleye, specialist in HIV/AIDS ministry for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students ministry in Africa, writes: I appreciate the fact that North Americans are willing to come to my continent, Africa, to serve, in spite of the poor conditions as compared to where they come from. In my opinion, those planning to engage in missions work in Africa need to understand the cultural context and worldview of the locals. Some ideas that work in the Western world may not work well in our context. They need to adjust their perspectives and also learn to receive (new perspective, insight, meagre resources) from non-Westerners. Generally they are accustomed to giving resources to those from the non-Western world and find it very difficult to receive. Sometimes this is perceived as an attitude of superiority complex.

We want those from the North American church to partner with us in ways that are mutually benefitting and uplifting; that way we don’t think of them as benefactors.’

Often when missionaries are sent or received the question is “What do you bring to the table?” It would be the uttermost arrogance for a missionary, short or long-term to say or insinuate that he or she is bringing something to the table and not be willing to receive what’s put on the table before them.

Philip Jenkins predicted that “by 2050, only about one-fifth of the world’s 3.2 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic Whites,” In large part that diminishing number will be the result of reciprocity left behind.

 “Being in reciprocal relationship with brothers and sisters will force us to focus first on relationships rather than the creation of global strategies.” ~ Paul Borthwick

We will need to listen to the Majority World mission leaders’ critique of our obsession with what Samuel Escobar has called “managerial missiology.” In the spirit of humility, we need to build our efforts based on biblical concepts of interdependent, give-and-receive community.

“We need to consider the economic realities of globalization and the local church. Which local churches are more likely to participate in mission ventures around the world? Is it not true that larger, richer congregations generally have more disposable income to spend beyond themselves than poorer, struggling churches? If this is so, then will the new face of American congregational involvement in the global church be primarily that of white, affluent Christians in a large, rich, suburban parish? Will mission be understood as the haves providing for the have-nots, economically speaking? What are the possibilities for mutuality and interdependence in such unequal relationships?”**

From his position as a leader in India missions, Paul Gupta expresses his conviction that for true reciprocal partnerships to work, “Every partner must bring resources to the table. If all parties do not bring resources, it is not partnership; it is ownership, and there will be controlling dynamics from the side of the owner. The Western church must begin to intentionally develop patterns where both partners state their purpose for coming together, the vision they would like to accomplish, and the strategy they would like to employ. Then, together they can determine the total resources they need to accomplish the combined objectives of the partnership, and clearly decide who is bringing what to the table.”

At the Urbana Missions Conference in 2006, Pastor Oscar Muriu of Nairobi Chapel openly invited North Americans to join the African church in reciprocal service. But he exhorted, “Don’t come thinking that you are coming to fix Africa. You cannot fix Africa.”

Some important questions for the global mission community:

Do we have friends or simply “interests”?

Do we reflect the community of faith with sincere, abiding love for each other, which is the way that the world will know that we are Christ’s disciples?

Are we any different than the business or government communities, which tend to relate to others only when the relationship advances self-serving ends?

Are we participating in short-term missions for the purposes of building reciprocal, kingdom-building relationships across cultures, or are we simply using our international opportunities as ways to foster our own growth?

Follow me on Twitter @Missionaries to be notified of the second and final part of this article.

*Paul Borthwick. Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church? (Kindle Locations 1352-1355). Kindle Edition.
** Ian Douglas, “Globalization and the Local Church,” in The Church in a Global Era, ed. Max Stackhouse, Tim Dearborn and Scott Paeth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), p. 207.

 

Christianity, Culture, Discipleship, God's Kingdom, Gospel, Incarnational, Making Disciples, Ministry, Missiology, Missional, Missions, Scripture, The Church, The Gospel

10 Types of Missionaries, and Why We Need Them.

group-of-peopleTo assume that all missionaries need to fit some constrained missionary mold is a great injustice to a sending God, His sent ones, and the ones He sends them to.  The wonderfully diverse nature of God and His infinitely creative design still catalyzes His people toward the reconciliation of all things.  (Colossians 1:120)

With that in  mind, consider these 10 types of missionaries and why we need them:

1.  The Paul-Type Missionary – The Paul-type Missionary is a modern-day missionary sent by the Lord with a passion to establish families of disciples which gather in a way that is indigenous to them, and where leadership emerges organically. This passion burns within until it is thought to be fulfilled. (2 Timothy 4:7)  His overseer-ship is not captured by his own efforts, but confirmed by the body (Galatians 1: 18-22). The Lord brings other gifted people alongside the missionary to fill in what is lacking in his gifts so the task can be fulfilled. Paul was called by God to make  a disciple making people among the Gentiles (1 Timothy 1: 1-4; Titus 1).

2.  The Peter-Type Missionary – The Peter-Type Missionary seems to be a modern-day missionary who is called to minister within existing institutions, systems, orthodoxies, denominations, and conventional structures expressed in varying degrees of liturgy and worship. Their focus, I think, is directed towards those who have not yet embraced the missionary call of all believers. These missionaries are often challenged and exhorted for propagating disconnected form and artifact over genuine discipleship, but we must allow them, like Peter primarily dedicated to the Jews, to make course corrections from within.

3.  The Timothy-Type Missionary – The Timothy-Type Missionary is an apprentice of an existing disciple makers who receives his commission from them and from God.  He or she often works towards the visionary missionary goal of those who are already in motion.  This type of missionary often assumes a role ‘under’ the leadership of another.  The sphere of ministry is usually, but not always encapsulated within the larger sphere of missionary workers that have ‘gone before.’  The types of missionaries are often pastoral with pastors.

4.  The Titus-Type Missionary – The Titus type Missionary is a missionary whose scope is regional.  (Titus 1:5)  They often demonstrate ‘problem solving’ skills in a loosely connected but dynamic network of existing churches.  They don’t usurp authority, but are known for wisdom and are recognized and encouraged by the region in which they serve.

5.  The James-Type Missionary – The James-type Missionary is a missionary who has God-given spiritual authority in a city or a local area. Sometimes this type of missionary can look  like a mega-church pastor. James was appointed by God to serve the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15). He had missionary/apostolic authority in the city of Jerusalem. Whenever apostles or church leaders came to Jerusalem, they met with James and the elders (Acts 12: 17; 21: 18).

6.  The Apollos-Type Missionary – The Apollos Type Missionary is characteristically a teaching missionary. (Acts 18: 24-28; 1 Cor. 4: 6,9). Apollos had been given missionary authority for the ministry of teaching the Scriptures by other missionaries. There are diverse Apollos-type missionaries in the Body of Christ today just as there are many types of teaching.

7.  The Luke-Type Missionary – The Luke Type Missionary is a missionary to the ‘market place.’ Luke served on Paul’s team of missionaries.  The Luke-Type missionary is gifted to work in business, media, art, education, and dare I say, politics.  Not everyone is a Luke-Type Missionary and neither is everyone called to be. The bi-vocational designation is often insufficient. They thens towards multi-vocation.

8.  The Barnabas-Type Missionary – The Barnabas-type Missionary is a modern-day networker and one who enjoys being a spiritual parent and an encourager amongst siblings.  For example, when many in the early Church were afraid of Saul due to his background of persecuting believers in Christ, Barnabas saw potential in him. When Barnabas noticed a great need for an apostolic teacher in Antioch, he invited Saul to serve with the Antioch church. And it was here that Barnabas and Saul were sent out as apostles to start new churches in other regions. When the time was right (see Acts 13: 13), Barnabas was willing to allow Saul to lead the missionary team. He was a true spiritual father.

9.  The Silas-Type Missionary – The Silas-Type Missionary assists or serves ground breaking missionaries. For example, Silas seemed to be a key assistant to Paul. When Barnabas decided not to accompany Paul on his second missionary journey, Silas was chosen to go along with Paul as his assistant and companion (Acts 15: 40). Both Silas and Timothy served with Paul on his missionary team and are often mentioned in Scripture together (Acts 17: 14-15; 18: 5; 2 Cor. 1: 19). Yet, Silas is always mentioned first. In First Peter 5: 12 , Paul refers to Silas as a faithful brother who has helped him.

10.  The John-Type of Missionary – The John Type of Missionary is one who can be characterized as a missionary of love. The greatest emphasis in the life of the apostle John was love. This type of nurturing missionary has great influence in the Body of Christ, but may not fit into one of the other apostolic roles spelled out in this list. However, they are committed to unity in the Body of Christ and they have an ability to cross denominational lines due to their God-given apostolic gifting.

Not every missionary can be categorized into one of the types above.  I suppose, if we worked together, we could collectively come up with many more types of missionaries.  Also, these ‘types’ of missionaries cannot exist independently of each other, and it is crucial that we do not become judgmental or overly critical of other types of missionaries.  I’ll confess that I have done that far too often.  May God forgive me.  Jesus is the archetypal missionary, all others are derived from Him. (John 20:21)

Through God’s manifold nature and the way He chooses people from every tribe, nation, and tongue to communicate His Gospel to creation, we become the unified threads in His purposeful and conciliatory tapestry.

What other kinds of missionaries are there?  Use the comment section at your leisure.

*This bulk of this post is adapted from Pierce, Chuck; Kreider, Larry; Stearns, Robert (2011-07-28). Return to Authentic Christianity: An In-depth look at 12 Vital Issues Facing Today’s Church (Chapter 11)