NOT EVERYTHING CALLED MISSIONS IS MISSIONS. My understanding of missionary work is formed by the Book of Acts. The clear pattern there is evangelism, discipleship, establishing churches, and training pastors / elders. When I came to my present pastorate I studied the list of supported missionaries and discovered that of 16 entities only two were on this program...
One of the problems that we face in missions today is a spectator mentality in churches because we have abdicated our responsibility to complete the Great Commission to mission boards and/or to individual missionaries.
For the most part, church members do not engage in the great commission at a personal level but rather by contributing resources so that the corporate body can send out a “Great Commission Expert” (missionary) to do it for them. However, this is a far cry from what the Lord intended when He issued the Commission.
Modern believers have convinced themselves that spiritual maturity is based on information and that it takes a long time. However, if one follows the New Testament pattern, mature disciples were made in short order. They were tested by persecution and stood! The secret was the absolute insistence on personal obedience to the demands and expectations of Scripture. This is the forgotten side of the Great Commission in many churches today.
Many contemporary approaches to the Great Commission have focused on the Lord’s instruction to go to all nations. In other words, for them, the dominant responsibility of the commission is to go to the nations. However, the grammar of the Lord’s statement makes clear that the central imperative of the Commission is the making of disciples. That central imperative will be accomplished by three accompanying activities – going, baptizing, and teaching.
Matthew’s Great Commission is deeply rooted in broader theological soil than only recruiting disciples from all the nations for Messiah’s future kingdom. Those roots extend in at least four directions.
By our example and teaching, we desire to cultivate a love for God's Word and the understanding that it stands far above all else. For us in America, this is often fleshed out as "Scriptural Truth over Psychology." For the Third World citizen, this could very well be fleshed out as "Scriptural Truth over Indigenous Spirit Beliefs." What is important is the heart assuring belief and trust in the sufficiency of Scripture.
We hadn’t meant to fall in love with this church plant; we’d meant to come to Denver, get some church planting experience and leave for the mission field a year later. God’s way was different, and the first thing that our new pastors did was slow us down. Actually, they told us we weren’t ready three different times. Those delays were critical for the development that we needed, but they were hard. First, the pastors invited me to become a pastoral intern so that I could be developed in leading a church and then be sent out as a pastor if God wanted me to plant churches.
The Church Planter's goal in leadership development is to see God-exalting independent Baptist churches with trained national leadership. This outcome is not realized by chance. The church planter must demonstrate openness, communicate, and have the humility to give and receive correction and criticism. (Phil. 2:1-18)
One mistake church planters make is not incorporating a comprehensive approach to discipleship from day 1 of the new church plant.
Here are four suggestions for developing ministry connections. This is what missionaries do all the time among unreached peoples. In post-Christian America disciples of Jesus Christ must become intentional in developing these connections if we are to "make disciples." So here goes:
Richard Coekin in a brilliant article entitled Making Disciples By Planting suggests the following four things regarding the “all” statements in the Great Commission. We have copied a few excerpts below and hope that it will encourage you to read the whole article. Coekin writes: …given that making disciples is the heart of the Great Commission, the four great universals—the ‘alls’ that dominate Jesus’ words—have a direct effect upon how we plant churches to make disciples.
The following statistics provide a snapshot of the underlying reality of the Christianity sweeping through what is being called the “Global South.” Eighty-five percent of churches in the world are led by men and women who have no formal training in theology or ministry. If every Christian training institute in the world operated at 120 percent capacity, less than 10 percent of the unequipped leaders would be trained. Eight out of ten nationals who come to the west to receive training never return home. Leaders from every non-Western region say their number one need is leadership training.
A glimpse into the life of an incredible youth worker, Brian Dye. Brian's ministry in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago is a tangible example of living a life of discipleship.