WHY MISSIONARIES? PART 4
Hopefully, I've made it clear that the church is indeed an institution as it operates in the world, but it certainly is not ONLY an institution.
As the gathered body of believers...
...It’s the community-of-the-found
…it is the communion-of-resurrection, which is all to say that the church manifests in its very gathering and going the power and the truth of the cross and resurrection.
Clearly, it is a special kind of institution!
It is light to the dark world.
It is hope amidst depression and drudgery.
It is the vessel of Good News in a world of bad news.
Namely, however, the church is a people-on-mission: as they gather, they are sent; and as they are sent, they are called back to gather. There is always a coming-and-going movement of the church from its very inception: coming to worship, going to witness; coming to fellowship, going to model God's kingdom to the lost.
One of the problems in the last half-century, unfortunately, is that we believe the "going" of the church is a less pressing "issue" than institutional upkeep and it's something that can only be "afforded" when it's developed to a certain capacity and stability. In both cases the church relegates missions to the periphery of its business-like existence. THIS SIMPLY CANNOT BE!
Being on mission is fundamental to the very core of its existence. Jesus was on mission, and the Body is an extension of that mission in the world. MISSIONS IS NOT A CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CHURCH, IT IS THE CHURCH. By definition then missions is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus to "seek and save the lost" and "reconcile all creation unto him"…through the gathering and sending of resurrection people.
I believe this is what missionaries are called to BE in "lost lands". They are the very reach of God to broken people. They go in the power of the resurrection and offer life.
WHEN WE INCLUDE MISSIONARIES (THEIR CALL AND THEIR SPIRIT!) IN THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH, THE CHURCH IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS PURPOSE: TO GO AND BE CHRIST IN THE WORLD.
But missionaries do a whole lot more than this for the local church. Take for example the following that I have witnessed and experienced:
- Missionaries believe... that every person in the church--by being a part of the Body-of-Christ-on-a-mission--has a call to reach the lost. Each person (not just the hired pastors) must be responsible, then, to witness and to "feed" the sheep [They really challenge our belief that it's the pastor's job to do most of the evangelizing and feeding.]
- Missionaries believe… the infrastructure of the church should always be "built" for missions. The resources, the facilities, the budget, should all point to the world and to the lost. Buildings should house neighborhood needs, budgets should be allocated outside the church, all decisions should be made in light of witnessing to the lost. [Most churches build facilities and allocate resources for the development of growing programs for insiders; missionaries really challenge this.]
- Missionaries believe... that the success of the church is not measured in attendance but in transformation. And transformation is not measured by verbal claims but by action. And the actions of the transformed are most visible when someone steps into leadership. Therefore, the church should always target the community for potential disciples that can be mentored into leaders. [Imagine if the church saw everyone as a future leader as opposed to the unfortunate way it looks at many people: future supporters.]
- Missionaries are... uncomfortable with a minority of people leading very disconnected programs to fulfill narrow, age specific, spiritual needs. Missionaries believe whole families ought to be on mission together, challenging our concept of splitting families up to do ministry. [Consider how much our paradigm/perspective/convictions would have to shift to make it possible for families to truly grow together through church ministry. Think how much parents’ paradigm/perspective/convictions would need to change for them to want this!]
- Missionaries believe… that children are NOT ONLY unproductive, non-contributing church attenders that need to be corralled in a wing to play games. ["For the Kingdom of God belongs to these little ones".]
- Missionaries believe... ministry is not an attempt to satisfy an audience but to fulfill its call to impact a community and the world. That impact begins with the grace of God being displayed through the lives of the already-saved and results in salvation of the unsaved. [Many think that the lost are reached through great marketing…but really they are drawn closer to the grace of God through the lived-out faith of believers. How are our church people living in the world and blessing their neighbors is the most fundamental evangelism question for the local church.]
- Missionaries are... flexible and adapt to their context. They are not restricted by tradition but liberated to translate the Gospel through means and in forms that are meaningful to "locals". Missionaries are translators (of truth) not side-takers (of theology). On sensitive issues they will most often ask if it really matters for reaching people, and if not, then, well, it doesn't matter. [Many churches would avoid a lot of fighting and save a whole lot of time if they kept this perspective. And they’d win a lot more people to the Kingdom.]
- Missionaries believe... innovation is a gift from the Creator for the mission field. All problems in ministry are either the result of unfaithfulness or lack of creativity in finding a solution. [There isn't anyone or any community unreachable. But is the church willing to take risks for the lost? Are they capable of being truly innovative? And I’m not thinking of issues of “style”.]
THE LIST COULD GO ON AND ON.
But as a conclusion to this four-part series on Why Missionaries, KNC is bringing missionaries on board because fundamentally, we want to be faithful to our call to GO!
We desire to impact this island for the Kingdom, win thousands of lost and hurting people, and deeply disciple, mentor, and shepherd local people into leadership.
We've discerned that missionaries will help us do this.
Please pray daily for us on this mission!