Category Archives: Missions
Heart + Eyes + Imagination + Action
Heart – Desire for God & Others
We are on mission for something. Often it’s for ourselves. Getting our heart set on God’s purposes is always the first step in life on mission. Get started with 1 Peter 3:10-12.
What issues of the heart are keeping you from being on mission for God & others?
Eyes – Awareness of the Needs Around Us
The Bible says Jesus “saw the crowds” & then “felt compassion” Matthew 9:36. Are you aware of the many needs around you? If you think you have to travel to a distant place to find human need, then your eyes are not open. Look around.
Imagination – Ideas to Engage the Needs Around Us
Many of our failures in mission as churches are failures of imagination. We can’t imagine ourselves being a solution for our communities. I pray for the innovation & courage of the men who so wanted their crippled friend to see Jesus, that they climbed on top of the roof, ripped a hole in the roof, & lowered him down at Jesus’ feet. Mark 2:1-12.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” May we not be bound by weak excuses & lack of imagination in reaching our communities.
Action – Implement & Execute Outreach Strategies
Many have a heart for God, are aware of the needs, even have the ideas, but never launch & take action to reach out. Take out your calendar & write down the next date you intend on inviting a neighbor for dinner or coffee. When is your church’s next outreach event? When is your unchurched friend having surgery? Who is in transition that you can bless? Mission needs a calendar & a plan of action!
Write down these symbols in a prominent place & use them to pursue life on mission, for others.
Lottie Moon served as a Missionary to China in the late 1800’s. The Southern Baptist Convention missions offering that was named after her has raised over $2.8 billion since it began. She could have been easily forgotten, because after a long & difficult missionary career, she died on a ship near Japan, without the money to even get herself back home to the states. But she lives on as an example of courage & gospel fervency. Here’s a few great quotes:
- “I do not believe that any trouble comes upon us unless it is needed, and it seems to me that we ought to be just as thankful for sorrow as for joys.”
- “The harvest is very great, the laborers, oh! so few. Why does the Southern Baptist church lag behind in this great work? …a young man should ask himself not if it is his duty to go to the heathen, but if he may dare stay at home. The command is so plain: ‘Go.'”
- “The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent. It is grievous to think of these human souls going down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus.”
- “It fills one with sorrow to see these people so earnest in their worship of false gods… Then to remember the wealth hoarded in Christian coffers! … Should we not press it home upon our consciences that the sole object of our conversion was not the salvation of our own souls, but that we might become co-workers with our Lord and Master in conversion of the world?
- “I have a firm conviction that I am immortal ’til my work is done.”
Found written in the fly leaf of her Bible after her death:
- “O, that I could consecrate myself, soul and body, to his service forever; O, that I could give myself up to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own or to have any will or affection improper for those conformed to him.”
For more info on the life of Lottie Moon, pick up Danny Akin’s short book 10 Who Changed the World.
As church attendance declines, we must look at our communities as a mission field. Why don’t we? Here’s some reasons, assumptions, & excuses I’ve heard, said, felt as a church leader:
- As churches, we have turned inward & focused on campus.
- As churches, we have “hired it done” by church staff instead of equipping people for the work of local outreach.
- Witnessing means inviting people like me to my church.
- The compelling call to “Go” (Matthew 28:19-20) begins at the borders of our own country.
- Assumption: “Everybody has a church already.”
- Assumption: “They know where we are if they need us.”
- Assumption: “The needy around here get plenty of help from the government.”
- Assumption: “We don’t have enough money.”
- Assumption: “The city won’t let us share the gospel.”
- As church leaders, we feel tension between “Go. It’s about the people out there” & “Come. What’s going on in here is vital.”
- It takes a lot of energy to maintain the on campus ministry.
- If we challenge people to reach out & serve in non-traditional ways they may go to another church.
- Local outreach = Advertising.
- Excuse: “Our area has some dangerous neighborhoods.”
- Excuse: “We will one day.”
- Excuse: “We tried that already.”
- Excuse: “We might get taken advantage of.”
- Excuse: “My people are not ready.”
- Sinful unspoken assumption: “We don’t really want ‘those people’ coming to our church.”
- Sinful unspoken assumption: “It won’t help our bottom line.”
What other reasons, excuses, assumptions could you add to this list? How does your church reach out to your local community?
With over 70-80% of churches plateaued and declining, church revitalization must be a major topic of conversation for church leaders and strategists. In the next few posts, I’ll share the strategy we are working on with the Northshore Baptist Association. Everyone working on revitalization should be indebted to Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson for their great book Comeback Churches. One of my top gleanings from the book is the diagnostic tool for assessing a congregations needs:
This image gets even those most entrenched in the attitude “we’re fine the way we are” thinking about the need to change. Great tool to help churches diagnose their need for revitalization.
The next question is – How? How do we refocus? re-energize? Restructure? Restart?
Loved this UNFORGETTABLE story when I first came across it as a baby Christian some 20 years ago. I have told it over and over again along with other Don Richardson stories from Peace Child & Eternity In Their Hearts. And now to see the Gospel’s lasting affect on those villages made up of head hunters & on the son of Don Richardson. Beautiful…
I’ve heard this saying over & over again for the past 15 years or so from Pastors and church leaders from all different perspectives of ministry. But I haven’t seen much about how to expand the SENDING capacity of a local church or a real change in strategy to developing SENDING capacity. Both are necessary for a missional movement. How can we understand the difference & add real SENDING capacity to our strategies?
- Seating capacity is about managing the movement of people into relationships. Sending capacity is about managing the movement of people into mission.
- The mission that Jesus gave the church was a SENDING strategy. The Great Commission & the Acts 1:8 Challenge are foundational
- Matthew 28:19 (NLT) – “go and make disciples of all the nations…”
- Acts 1:8 (NLT) – “you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- Seating capacity is easier. Not cheaper, but easier. It’s easier to draw a big crowd than to send a lot of people into missional roles in the world. It takes longer & requires different things from the leaders.
- Seating capacity is INSIDE. Sending capacity is OUTSIDE. Serving inside the church is great, but if the only mission opportunities we give people are inside, we fall short of a true Acts 1:8 SENDING strategy.
- Being SEATED is much more comfortable than being SENT. Going to church is for the majority of people, very safe, sanitary, & can be enjoyable. Being SENT requires sacrifice, risk, & a sometimes delayed reward for effort.
- I can be SEATED in my own strength. Being SENT requires the power of the Spirit.
- Being SEATED tends to make much of the leaders. Being SENT makes much of the mission. We hear a lot about the churches & leaders with the most SEATING capacity.
- SEATING capacity is easier to track and clean up after. It’s more static. SENDING strategies are hard to control and can get messy.
Do you see any difference between SEATING capacity and SENDING capacity? How does your church include SENDING in its strategies? What resources do you know about to aid SENDING capacity and SEATING capacity?
Next week I’ll share some thoughts about developing SENDING capacity.
- 5 million people die every year of water-related illnesses.
- It is estimated that half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people with a water related illness.
- Women and children in developing countries invest two hundred million hours a day fetching water.
One of the most crippling problems around the world is a lack of safe, clean water. Water related illness and disease and the
time it takes to deliver and prepare water for living and cooking and bathing in the majority of homes and villages around the world slows progress, wastes precious resources, and causes tremendous grief and hardship to families. Many missionaries are engaged in projects to bring clean water to people as they share about the living water that quenches eternal thirst.
We are excited to be partnering with Sergio and Beth Matassa, of GLED, to bring clean water to hard to reach villages in southern Mexico through a simple, innovative bio-sand filter that can provide 120 gallons of safe water for a family every day for up to 20 years. Bridge Church has partnered with the Matassa’s to install filters in several village homes. Including an orphanage in Las Margaritas, Chiapas, Mexico, that was paying $8,500 per year for clean drinking water for the kids in
their care. This filter will save this orphanage over $150,000 dollars over its life span and that money can be put into other resources for orphans in a very poor part of the Americas. What’s it cost us? $150! A small amount that saves lives, resources, and opens doors for the Gospel to be shared. These filters are made from scratch and utilizes natural sand and water flow to kill bacteria and clear up bad water. This week we’re installing a few filters in southeast Louisiana. If you’d like to see one in action or hear more about the water projects in Chiapas, or other innovations in missions, hit me up this week.
What other water projects do you know about?
Great story about the miracle of church planting…
A team from our Church took off this AM bound for Mexico’s southern most state to work with missionaries & church planters, Sergio & Beth Matassa. Their work consists of raising up and training indigenous leaders among the Tzotzil Indians to plant churches in the 9,000 or so unreached, remote villages throughout Chiapas. Our team will go deep into the Lacandon Jungle to support the Church Planting movement there with free medical clinics, installing life-saving water filtration systems, and sharing the gospel via film and other means. Pray for our team. Chiapas is considered a Voice of Martyrs Restricted Nation (check out my personal picture that made it onto Voice of Martyrs cover in 2009) but much is needed to provide the gospel for many unreached peoples in Mexico’s southern most state.
Chiapas is a great place to invest people and other resources. You can learn more about partnering with the Matassa’s at their website gled.net. To partner with them on a Mission Trip check out there East-West Ministries page.