Category Archives: Missions
Challenging words from Nik Ripken in his latest book The Insanity of Sacrifice:
“Safety is not one of God’s core values.”
- Do we share our faith as long as it is safe?
- Do we send mission teams as long as it is safe?
- Do we witness to our neighbors as long as it is safe?
- Do we make financial decisions as individuals and churches based on how safe those decisions are?
As one who leads others and values mobilization of others into missions, safety is too often a top shelf concern of mine. Great reminder that safety is relative to God and not a top shelf concern for the Almighty, nor should it be for His people.
Ripken argues that danger IS and SHOULD BE a part of the life of the faith filled follower. How tied is your faith to safety? Have you said no to an opportunity or a side of town because of the idol and illusion of safety? Is your faith in God lived out only in safe, comfortable environments where you’re never challenged, never have to sacrifice, never have to stress over the needs of others? Maybe it’s time for us to embrace the tension of discomfort and put more faith in God’s power.
More great quotes from Ripken:
- “Clearly, there is a sense in which the danger of our lives increases in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ… the closer we are to Jesus… the more danger we will face in our lives.”
- “faithfulness to the commands of God holds more value than safety every time! The people of God are called to faithful response whether it is safe or not. If we are faithful, we will go and we will send and we will share and we will speak and we will give and we will pray… even when it is not safe.”
- “It will probably be safer for you to not share your faith with your neighbor. It will be safer for your church to not send out mission teams. It will be safer for you to not get on that plane. It will be safer to not let the world get under your skin. It will be safer to gather for worship each Sunday and simply go through the motions. It will be safer to keep financial resources close to home.”
- “God’s people value faithfulness and obedience. And we consider it a holy privilege to do exactly what God has called us to do… even if it is not safe.“
Lord, set us free from the idol and the illusion of safety.
Check out Nik Ripken’s great new 90 Day devotional called The Insanity of Sacrifice.
Highlights from our Bridge On Mission Message Series
November was On Mission Month at Bridge Church. We tackled the questions of how to live life ON MISSION to the Vulnerable, the Nations, the Next Generation, & to our Neighbors.
Check out a few great quotes from this series presented by Evan McGinty, Steve Elworth, Cherish Leblanc, Elizabeth Johnson, & myself.
- Christ Followers never say, “That’s not my problem.”
- There’s no such thing as an unwanted child in God’s Kingdom.
- The drive behind our mission is obedience to God. Sustainable mission is a series of small steps of obedience.
- In Christ, our lives will not end in brokenness, but with promised restoration.
- If God calls you to it, He’ll give you the grace to do it. – Cherish LeBlanc
- God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. – Elizabeth Johnson
- God is a missionary. Therefore, the church is a missionary church.
- Missions is something God does, not something I do.
- “God’s mission is a reason there is a Bible at all.” – Steve Hawthorne
- “Do not ask ‘what is God’s will for my life?’ Instead, ask, ‘what is God’s will for the world and what is my place in fulfilling his will?’” – John Perkins
- If every evangelical gave 10% of their income to missions we could easily support 2 million new missionaries.
- Your Character, Lifestyle, & Example as a parent, or other influence in their lives, help kids know WHAT is right.
- Good character around them can be a kind of North Star. That’s also why we need a church community, b/c our kids are not just watching us, but those we associate with.
- Your Intentional Words, Discipline, Discipleship help them know what AND WHY the Christian life is right.
- “There is just one way to bring up a child in the way he should go and that is to travel that way yourself.” — Abraham Lincoln
- Missions does not equal distance. We have a mission field within walking distance of us everyday.
- Consumers like the mission. Disciples own the mission. Romans 1:14
Listen to the messages HERE or on Itunes.
Recently I got to sit down with Minister of Missions from ten different Louisiana churches, ranging in size from 75 to 1,800 attenders. The purpose of the meeting was to communicate with them a bit about church planting in our state, but I was really curious about what it would be like to get these missions leaders together and talking about their missions engagements around the world. I was not disappointed! Just these 10 churches reported:
- 15 new churches currently sponsored
- 26 overseas missions engagements in at least 12 different countries
- 4 national missions engagements
- 9 state missions engagements
- 9 local missions engagements
- 4 unreached people groups adopted
- 5 multi-site campus developments
And remember, this is just 10 churches!!! It speaks to me about the impact that Christ followers working through their churches can have on our world. We recently reported that Louisiana church based compassion ministries had given out 635 tons of food to people in need so far in 2016. And we can only track probably less than 1/3 of the churches doing this type of ministry in our state. If we could see the full impact of the tens of thousands of churches on our world, we would see THE THING that’s holding back darkness, famine, devastation from this earth. And we would see heaven being populated from every tribe and tongue. Take away the church and this world is a dark, dark place.
Thanking God today for His work through His people in our world.
A few highlights:
- First Baptist West Monroe has send out nine missionaries from their church over the past 10 years.
- Cedar Crest Baptist Church in West Monroe sponsors a national pastors conference for pastors in Bulgaria! They also paid to translate, print, & distribute Experiencing God in Bulgarian.
- First Baptist Hornbeck hosts a Youth Camp in the summers for Jr. High & High School students from all over their area.
- Istrouma Baptist in Baton Rouge hosts an English as a Second Language ministry (ESL) that includes people from six nations.
Church Plants and Volunteer Mission Teams, Part 2
Mission Trips can be powerful tools for growth of individuals & churches. As a church planter I consider every mission team as a force multiplier, multiplying the impact of our churches outreach in the community. Yesterday I wrote about five rules of thumb for church planters. Today, we turn to the sending church. Here are seven key things to know if your church is taking a trip to help a church plant:
1. It’s not about you.
Every Mission Trip should be about the people that will be served by your church. But sometimes when our expectations are not met or we see things or are asked to do things out of our comfort zone, things turn inward. Train your team to expect to be uncomfortable & no matter what happens make the trip about the community, church, & people you’re serving. Love the Navy Seal axiom that applies well to Mission Trip Preparation: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
2. The Planter is caring for you PLUS trying to pastor a church.
The church planter is concerned about you, but he also has a job or two. He may need to make hospital visits, prepare for Sunday’s sermon, lead a small group Bible Study, etc. As much as he may want it to be, his full-time job will not be to be at your beck and call. If you need that, explain that ahead of time so arrangements can be made.
3. The people at their church are probably new to this.
One of the most frequently asked questions from mission teams is “Where are the people from your church? Why aren’t they helping?” Well, most likely if it’s during the week, they’re at work. Just like you do not hang out at the church & help the pastor most of the time when you’re at home. Also, in most church plants, the people are new to faith, new to mission. The planter as disciple maker is moving them on a path toward engagement with faith & servant hood. Your presence will help as they see you taking a week or weekend to give of yourself. But don’t have unrealistic expectations & don’t be too critical if some of the people from the mission church seem immature in the faith. They probably are.
4. They love their community. Don’t trash it.
When you go on a mission trip, the community will be different from yours. There may be some things that seem strange to you. There may be some things that seem wrong to you. Hopefully, that’s why you’re there, to improve the community through the gospel & with your unselfish presence. Talking bad about what you see may put the planter on defensive or hurt those your serving in the community. Train your team to leave the community better than when you arrived through encouragement & servant hood.
5. Money is very tight. Bring some.
If you’re taking on projects that you know will cost a lot of money, consider footing the bill. Money is always tight for the church planter family & the new church. Ask them what they can afford to cover during the week ahead of time. Also, consider a love offering if they’ve provided housing for your team. Ask them if they took a day off work to help you around the community & consider covering that cost to them. And one of the best things your group could do for a lot of church plants is give the planter a date night with his wife.
6. Try to blend in.
If you made T-shirts for your team, wear them on your day off in the community or on the way home. Remember, it’s not about you. You are serving as an extension of the church plant. The church plant will be better off if after your mission trip the community is saying, “That new church in the community served us” rather than “a big church from ____ came here & volunteered in our community.”
7. Commit 3-5 years.
The mission teams who have had the greatest impact on our community, new church, & family are those who make return trips. Return trips will allow your church to see annual progress of the new church as they return each year. Anticipation will build naturally for each trip. A visit from the church planter to speak at your church could create a powerful relationship. You could even work it out with a church planter to help them develop one particular area of church life that your church is very strong in – VBS, Kids Minsitry, Evangelism, etc. In that way, you’re reproducing yourself in another community with each trip.
I’m excited to see the huge swell of support for church plants & more churches taking in country trips to help new churches. Use these 7 need to know things to train your team for maximum impact.
If you are a church planter or a church that has taken a trip, what else would you add to this list?
Proud of my oldest son Jackson. He’s going on his first mission trip to Haiti in December! A team from Bridge Church will be serving with Respire Haiti, working with orphans at a local school, through feeding programs, & some light construction. Prayers appreciated! And he’s hoping to raise $700 to cover his trip. You can contribute HERE. Or put him to work with some odd jobs!!!! Ha!
This will be Bridge Church’s third trip to work with Respire Haiti. Incredible story & great work God is doing. Louisiana native Megan Boudreaux has built an incredible team & ministry to restevec children. You can read the story in the book Miracle on Voodoo Mountain: A Young Woman’s Remarkable Story of Pushing Back the Darkness for the Children of Haiti. We have some copies available at Bridge Church this month.
Check out the video recap of Bridge’s last trip to Respire HERE.
It was great to be a part of Family Serve weekend in Lake Charles. Looking forward to this annual event to be held around Louisiana that combines missions & family fun, allowing families to serve together on a mission trip in Louisiana. It was great to meet & worship with Jeff Slaughter, the genius behind Lifeway’s crazy VBS songs that I never seem to get out of my head at the end of the summer. LOL! And by the way, his creativity definitely has the character & incredible heart for God behind it. And I loved serving in Lake Charles. It’s one of the fastest growing places in the country right now. 17% economic growth last year. More to come. Church Planters & Partners needed. Our team worked with Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, with Pastor Freddy Brown, which is in a neighborhood that was destroyed 10 years ago by Hurricane Rita. Incredible people! Great day of service!
Thanks to Jess Archer, Jeff Cook, Bruce Baker – DOM of the Carey Baptist Association, Chris Jeffus, & church planters Blake Forman – Sulphur Community Church, Brian Manuel – Carlyss Community Church, & Kedrick Holliday – Safehaven Bible Church – for their hard work in putting everything together.
Look forward to Family Serve 2016!
Church Planting Axiom I heard years ago: “Don’t just start a church for your community. Start a church for the whole world.” That resonated with me for several reasons:
- God’s Great Commission vision for his disciples was global. Matthew 28:19-20.
- You need the whole world to properly make a disciple. True disciples will be moved to go & give of themselves. You’ll need to give them opportunities.
- The whole world needs disciples that have a vision for going & giving. A growing family of disciples was Jesus’ Plan A for reaching the world.
- Going & even dreaming of going on mission, stretches our faith & helps us deal with our own selfishness & complacency. Color of the carpet, etc. pales in comparison to the needs of the world.
- Spiritual Maturity is impacted exponentially through going, & it seems that’s even more true when you can cross cultures.
- When you engage the world, it affects how we view our own communities. Every mission trip I’ve ever gone on, the conversation on the way back always turned to, “We could do this at home.”
How can I make sure my church is FOR the Whole World:
- Give. Make sure that your budget reflects a global vision. For our church, that means giving to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention & supporting a few missionaries individually as a church & then as a family also. Amount doesn’t matter, just begin to make this a priority from the beginning.
- Tell stories. Video resources abound about missions & global needs. Develop space in your worship service & websites to tell the stories, show the images, celebrate the successes of missionaries, current & of old. I’ve enjoyed having the Heroes For Young Readers series around the house as a parent. Great stories of missionaries & missions.
- Connect with missionaries. Many ways to serve them on site. But praying for missionaries helps more than we’ll know on this side of eternity.
- Ask God to lead your church to a place in the world to pray for & connect with.
What are you doing to make sure your church is a church for the whole world?
Spent a great few days at Uno Mas Ranch in Bandera, TX, last week retreating with our family, a few families from our church, & connecting with a great church plant in the City of San Antonio called The Well Community Church. Since we want EVERYONE to have the opportunity to be on mission & about 40% of our congregation is under 10, we’re trying to provide opportunities for families with small kids to participate in mission trips & retreat type events together. Uno Mas Ranch was the perfect place. Hope to make this an annual trip!
Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the 1800’s, may have been the one to popularize the term Great Commission for Jesus’ last command to his followers on earth.
Matthew 28:18-20 HCSB – “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always,to the end of the age.”
What’s so great about it? For starters:
- Jesus said it. This is a directive straight from the master himself. And it’s the last words he left with his followers. It’s clearly what he wanted the cause of our lives to be as his people.
- It’s repeated in all four gospels. The four gospels vary on a lot of details about the life of Jesus. And few things are mentioned in all four. The Great Commission is one of them, telling us that this statement left an indelible mark on his followers & served as a highlight of Jesus’ teaching
- If we do it, people are changed for eternity. Obedience to the great commission means communicating the gospel which will result in people being included in eternal life in Heaven forever. Neglect means the opposite.
- Jesus did it & so did his first followers. If we want to follow the example of Christ & the early church, we’ll busy ourselves with going, making disciples, baptizing, & teaching.
- If you’re a Christian today, it’s because someone else took it seriously.
But the real question is: Do I live like this commission is GREAT? Do I take it seriously? Does my church take it seriously? Unfortunately, many of us as Christians LIVE like the Great Commission is NO BIG DEAL.
How can we make Jesus’ commission GREAT?
- Get serious about how to be & make disciples. Check out Robby Gallaty’s book Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples.
- Give to & pray for those who are making disciples.
- Take responsibility for your home, neighborhood, & work place.
- Use your gifts to serve through a local church that is purposing to make disciples.
- Pray for those around you & look for opportunities to start conversations about the gospel.