Yesterday, I talked about the importance of helping church members understand the difference between being committed to “missions” versus “the mission.” Today, I would like to share with you a few thoughts about leading people to embrace the mission.
1. Give people a missional hermeneutic for reading their Bibles.
If people are going to embrace the mission, they must understand what the Bible has to say about it. I try to accomplish this in three ways. First, I teach a new members/believers class entitled “On Mission with God” every other month. This class introduces every new member of our church to the mission of God and helps to show them how it connects the entire Bible together. This is a four week course that I wrote specifically for First Baptist, Metropolis but would be glad to share a PDF copy with anyone who requests it. Second, I try to connect every message that I preach to the mission of God in some way. Since the majority of my preaching involves preaching through specific books of the Bible, it is important that I constantly remind the congregation that what we are reading in Numbers, for instance, is connected with the larger mission of God revealed throughout the entire Bible. Finally, at least once a year, I like to preach/teach and entire series of messages that lay out the mission of God and show how it connects the entire Bible together. What I am finding is that after several years of this kind of preaching and teaching, our people are starting to read their Bibles with a focus on the mission.
2. Be Patient
I cannot stress enough the importance of being patient. People will not embrace this mission overnight. This is a long and arduous process and if you are not committed to sticking it out you will not see much success. Over the past several years I’ve talked with several young Pastors who went into a church and tried to lead them towards a deeper commitment to the mission only to be disappointed when the people did not immediately respond. I have been at First Baptist Church for five years and feel that we have only just begun this process. I know guys who have been leading the same church for over ten years who feel the same way. What I am trying to get across is that this process takes time. Don’t give up just because they did not get it the first time you preached or taught it. Stay with it, be faithful, and overtime they will start coming around.
3. Don’t fret too much when things go wrong.
Yesterday, I talked about the importance of helping people to see the difference between the mission and missions. Ultimately we want our people to be committed to “the mission,” which will naturally lead them to be involved in “missions.” If we get this backwards chaos can ensue. People who get this backwards will develop rival factions and pet projects. Usually they will be committed to good endeavors but somehow have divorced them from “the mission” of God. When this happens, don’t freak out! It is part of the growth process. But at the same time, don’t throw in the towel and give up. Leading people to embrace the mission will require patience and long suffering.
Recently I talked with a Pastor friend who was diligently trying lead his church to embrace ‘the mission” but the vision got highjacked by a small group of church leaders who were committed to another “missions” vision. He was frustrated because the particular organization they had gotten involved with had no plan for evangelism or church planting. They were merely involved in relief aide, specifically digging wells for villages in Western Africa. There is nothing wrong with digging wells and in the right context this can be a valid avenue for sharing the gospel and planting churches, but the organization they were involved with had no such plans. They were merely a humanitarian organization. So he asked what I would do in that situation. My response surprised him. I said, “Don’t kill it, but continue to preach/teach and organize other opportunities that will be more tied to the mission.” Over time the people will see the difference and they will eventually turn away from merely being involved in “missions” and genuinely embrace “the mission.” Teach it and give them opportunities to experience it and eventually they will embrace it.