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Friday, February 15, 2008

What Are You Waiting For?

I've spent quite a bit of time talking with leaders of small, nontraditional churches in major urban centers in the United States. Many of them are just getting started in ministry and planting churches. I understand that starting a church takes time and energy.

So when I ask these guys about their vision for involvement in international missions, their answers tend to be something along the lines of,

"We're just getting started. Once we're a little more established, we'll launch into something like that."

or,

"We're small and don't have the resources that those big seeker churches do. For now, we're just going to stay local."

What do you want your church to be about? What message are you sending to your people by putting off missions off until you're older? Do you really think it will be easier for your people to get a vision for global involvement when you've been established for a while? Are resources an obstacle for God?

I say, start now. Start a church by rallying support for an international missions endeavor. Prayerfully select a place, a people group, or a missionary who is already on the field. Work together to develop a missional strategy to engage people with the gospel. If you don't have money, come part-time, associate with other churches and groups, or come and get jobs. Intentionally engage people on vacation, in the States, or online.

Start with global ministry, and watch what it does for your local ministry.

Starting now will establish missions as a priority for your church. It will help keep your focus outward, and give you something to work toward that has lasting kingdom significance. Not that you're "attractional," but global involvement is appealing for the kinds of people your church is meant for.

Besides, you're who we need in Western Europe. Forget the big churches who want to set up franchises around the world. We're looking for missional, relational believers who have some understanding of ministry in a post Christian culture. We need people who are creative, teachable, and anti-establishment. You're perfect for the job, so what are you waiting for?

If you were waiting for an invitation, here it is.

5 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Stepchild,

Thank you for this exhortation. I am part of a small group of believers who recognize our responsibility to both send and go. We trust God to direct his children, and when he directs them to go, we send them - not just with prayer, but also with money. It is amazing what a small group of people can do.

One more thing, we like to partner with people all over the world. We do this through the SBC, but we partner with individuals as well. Anyone reading this who wants to partner in the gospel send me an email (on the sidebar of my blog) and lets talk.

-Alan

Todd said...

Stepchild,

Great charge. This is good advice for any church. We are listening, praying and looking forward to how God would move us this direction in healthy, helpful ways.

Cheryl said...

AMEN!!!

Camel Rider said...

Being from Georgia where church starts are in every school I've heard my share of this. I've worked for several and I've seen this flesh out just like you said. Our home church just turned 10 and is running over 2000 and is struggling to get people interested in missions. Why? Because it isn't part of the DNA. It's like trying to change my kids hair color when they're 10...not possible.

I also agree with your charge, these types of churches are great to work with because they don't have an agenda. There are a ton of smaller, post-modern, edgy, fringy (word?) churches that need a partner overseas. The other charge is to us. So many of our overseas people are from traditional churches and approach their work more traditionally. I think we have a responsibility to create avenues of service for the more modern churches that resemble their approach to ministry. I think it's vital to read the blogs of younger pastors to see how they approach life and ministry.

Younger groups approach ministry in a totally different way and they don't partner with people out of responsibility but through relationships and like-minded ministries. Interesting thoughts...maybe I'll blog about this as well. What are your thoughts?

stepchild said...

Camel Rider,
I agree. One of my concerns is the new emphasis on partnering with younger, emerging, smaller, post-modern, edgy, progressive, multi-affinity churches. The current system is set up to try to connect partner churches with the ministries of our long-term people on the field. The problem is that most of our people on the field come from traditional churches and have pretty traditional approaches to ministry.

So we're going to bring in a group of young, postmodern Christians from the States to come do door-to-door evangelism in Western Europe?

I think the missionaries (and the mission sending organizations, for that matter) need to just get out of the way. I spent some time recently with some awesome pastors from the States who really get it. They are capable, flexible, creative, and committed. In short, they are exactly who we need here. We just need to get out of their way and let them do here what they are already doing in the States.

Thanks.