In 2008, God called me to serve the South Carolina Baptist Convention as worship and music director. After two years in this position, I felt God calling me to start a movement of church musicians and worship leaders to become worshipers on mission. The vision God gave was to revitalize our worship ministries by becoming missionaries in our communities. In South Carolina, we are calling this movement M3: The MusicArts Mission Movement. Along the journey, I have learned that a movement is far more than starting another church program. A movement has motion only when we are following God and he is moving people to join him on mission. God is always on the move.
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21, NIV
What is the methodology of the missional mindset? I call it the Five-fingered-approach-to-handing-someone-the-gospel. It takes all five of these missional elements to hand someone the gospel on mission. Here is my five-fingered definition of missions that will help you hand the gospel to those around you:
- First finger: Meeting people at their point of need . . .
- Second finger: In your community . . .
- Third finger: On a regular basis . . .
- Fourth finger: To develop relationships . . .
- Thumbs up: Which lead to witnessing opportunities.
Church members typically think of missions as something we do away from our hometown. But joining God on his mission of redeeming the world starts with those around us. America is a huge mission field, and God is calling every Christian to be a missionary. If any element of the above definition is missing, we will fail to hand the gospel to those around us. If we assume we know their needs, we will miss them. If we only go once or twice a year, we will miss them. If we simply sing songs or hand out tracts without relationship, we will miss them. And if we do the first four without witnessing to the transformational power of Jesus, our efforts are no more than social gospel, and we miss the opportunity to offer them Christ.
The five-fingered-approach clearly defines what is missional and what is not missional. Simply presenting a church program on the street corner is not missional. Church programs designed for worship sound like a foreign language to those in our community. Granted, this is an easy way to check missions off our list and feel good about ourselves. However, this approach is largely ineffective for at least two reasons:
- The right to share something as serious and confronting as the gospel must be earned. We earn the right to share the gospel by first meeting needs.
- The gospel is best expressed in the context of relationship. Relationship is the context for transformational discipleship throughout Jesus’ ministry. Effective mission happens in relationship.
We can’t just throw an occasional bucket of seed and water on the field and call ourselves farmers. But that’s what we do when we present programs in our community once or twice a year and call it missions. We know it takes more to earn a listening ear, but we hesitate to invest in relationship and service.
Reggie McNeal has often reminded us in his writing and speaking that, for Christians, life is a mission trip. In his book, Missional Communities, McNeal wrote: “Through the years the program church redefined the game to match its scorecard and was not willing to be accountable for its impact in the world . . . The result was that what it means to act as salt and light was changed into church members’ being marketing agents for church membership . . . Abundant life was contorted into church engagement. In the meanwhile, families are estranged, people go hungry, cynicism and fatalism hold hope hostage, while church leaders fret over meeting budgets and lament dwindling member support for an overstuffed church calendar.”4
We must do better, my friends! There must be more!!! We must re-focus our churches on dynamic worship that moves us to make disciples and lead them on mission to our communities. That’s GOING FULL CIRCLE. Let’s go! — Mark Powers
McNeal, Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church, 22–23