As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
— John 20:21–22, NIV
In a previous blog, I presented my five-fingered-approach-to-handing-someone-the-gospel. As I said there, it takes all five fingers to hand someone the gospel as we lead our worship ministries on mission to our community. Each element of this five-fingered strategy closely corresponds to God’s four missional mandates that we talked about two weeks ago.
- First finger… Meeting people at their point of need: The Great Commandment helps us know that God placed in each of us a deep need to love Him. That is humankind’s greatest need. It tells Christians that we must love others enough to share how Christ meets that need. So often, we are held hostage by personal fear of being on mission to those around us. Loving others more than self is the key to overcoming that fear. The Great Commission commands us to go to them and not wait for them to come to us.
- Second finger… In your community: The Great Commission calls us to go first to those locally before we move out to other lands. The Great Covenant calls us out of our comfort zones to move out in faith. The Cultural Mandate helps us understand that we must present the gospel in cultural languages that fit the people groups around us.
- Third finger… On a regular basis: The Great Commandment tells us how to love others sacrificially with agape love. The Great Covenant calls us to go and live among them, believing in faith we will find God at work there.
- Fourth finger… To develop relationships: The Great Commission compels us to teach the world about obedience. Jesus showed us that obedience is best taught in relationship. The Great Commandment tells us to embrace grace-filled relationships.
- Thumbs up… Which lead to witnessing opportunities: This is the ultimate goal of all four of the great mandates. The Great Commission is a command to make disciples of all people groups. The Great Commandment shows God’s intent that all people everywhere would first love him and then love others as themselves. The Great Covenant is a picture of dependence on God moving us out to the world to bring Christ to all people. The Cultural Mandate shows us how God gave us culture as the context through which we express his love for all.
And did you realize this? God’s great strategy presented in the four missional mandates also reflects the circle of missional living: worship-discipleship-mission. Worship is “loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul,” demonstrated both personally and as his church. Discipleship is following in faith, like Abraham, beyond our comfort zones with dependence on God. Missions is going to all people, loving them, baptizing and teaching obedience until they too go full circle in Christ.
When a worship ministry provides a weekly children’s music group in a nearby apartment complex, they are following God’s great strategy. As a worship ministry adopts local art studios and provides artists with coffee and donuts and volunteer time to develop witnessing relationships, they are following the great strategy. When we adopt a local community theater and provide meals for late night rehearsals, and supply volunteers to paint sets, make costumes, and usher, we are following the great strategy. As we love, serve, and connect with people to witness for Christ, we also grow personally in worship-discipleship-mission.
Recently an atheist sued a Texas county for placing a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn. But when diagnosed with a detached retina, he decided to drop the suit and focus on his health. A member of Sand Springs Church heard about the man’s illness. She phoned her pastor and asked if he would pray about the church offering to help the man. The pastor said he needed no time to pray about it because Christ had already instructed the church to help those in need. So they did. And God worked through their efforts. Now the man who threatened the suit has had a shift in perspective and plans to move down the street from the church. He received enough money from the church to catch up on rent, bills, and taxes, plus they provided transportation to his eye doctor.
“We are literally still in a state of shock,” the man said. “I feel like we are in the Twilight Zone.”1 This church has gone full circle in missional living. How about YOURS??? — Mark Powers
- Colter, “Atheist shocked when church helps with bills,” Southern Baptist Texan newsletter, 2012, 8. http://www.brnow.org/News/April-2012?page=8.