Motivating People to Go on Mission

Last week I had lunch with a Pastor friend of mine

From "Baptizing in the Jordan" by Si...
From “Baptizing in the Jordan” by Silas X. Floyd (1869-1923) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

who asked me a difficult question, “How do I motivate my people to go on mission with God?”  This is a question that a lot of Pastors are struggling with right now.  We all know the frustration of laying out a vision to our people but then never seeing it catch wind by turning into action. Therefore, over the next few Mission Monday’s, I am going to try to lay out some basic thoughts about how we can motivate our members to be on mission.

The first question we need to ask ourselves in this process is, “What exactly are we trying to motivate them to do?”  Here is where I need to make a careful distinction between “the mission” and “missions.”  Motivating people to participate in “the mission” means that we want to help them see their lives in relation to the ongoing mission of God through history.  Motivating people merely to “missions,” on the other hand, involves getting them to give money or to go on trips. I would like to suggest that by helping people to see their lives in relation to the “the mission” motivates them to be more involved in “missions.”

I fear that within Southern Baptist Churches specifically, and evangelical churches in general, we have fallen into the trap of leading people to be involved with “missions” without first leading them to be committed to “the mission.”  This may seem like a minor distinction but in reality the results can be devastating.  When we lead people to merely be involved in “missions” they end up seeing “missions” as just another of the many activities of the church.  Even worse, they often see “missions” as just another option on the smorgasbord of ministry opportunties.  But when we focus on “the mission” people are able to see their lives in connection with God’s overarching plan for history.  This results in people being able to see “the mission” as a lifestyle rather than just one of the many activities that their church offers.

This may seem like a distinction without a difference but I am convinced that motivating with “the mission” rather than with “missions” is the key to seeing our people get more involved.  The first step in motivating church members to go on mission is always to show them exactly what we mean by “the mission.”  We are not just evangelizing or planting churches or taking care of orphans, we are participating in God’s overarching mission to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ.  The more clearly our people see “the mission” the more motivated they will be to “go on mission.”  Tomorrow, I will share some of the ways that I try to accomplish this at First Baptist Church, Metropolis.

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