One of my favorite heroes of faith is the Thai minister of a church in Bangkok, who truly understands that there is not a distinction between mission field churches who are “receivers” of missions and churches who are “doers” of missions. Although working in Thailand, itself a Buddhist country and the object of mission work, the Thai churches that he has planted are reaching out in Laos and Myanmar—and he has plans and dreams for preaching to the 40 million Thai-language Chinese people.
We know a church in Moscow, less than twenty years old itself, who is launching a mission effort into Istanbul, Turkey. Singaporean Christians are sending missionaries into Cambodia and China, while Christians from Ghana have planted large congregations in Western Europe.
One of the most impressive examples of great churches focusing outside, not in, is the Back To Jerusalem movement among Chinese Christians. Christians from Mainland China have committed to send each other into ALL the countries of the countries, where 90% of the non-Christians of the world live.
If you go to the question and answer pages for mission efforts like Back To Jerusalem, the first question is always: why are you sending people other places; don’t you have enough to do at home? Every missionary and every mission-minded church has been confronted with the same question. Here is my answer: Of course, the Great Commission includes home, but who will share the Good News with the billions who have never heard of Jesus, if the biggest churches with the most Christians in every country all stay home??
Great churches—wherever they are and whatever size they may be—understand that they are a part of the call to the Body of Christ to “go into the entire world.” Here are some practical suggestions for leading your church to go into the entire world:
- Put the whole world on display. What do your members really know about your own mission work? What do they know about the persecuted church? What do they know about the inspiring mission efforts of Christians around the world? If your members are ill-informed, then they are uninspired. What can you do to change this?
- Talk about world Christians. Many of my personal heroes of faith are men and women that are virtually unknown in the United States. They do not make the lectureship circuits, they are not widely published, they are not center page spreads for Christian newspapers. If you are a church leader, you should get out, meet these unknown heroes, then come home and talk about them!
- Avoid protectionism. The era of allowing foreign evangelists and missionaries to talk, to preach, to show their slides in our assemblies has been over for decades. Most leaders decided their members needed protecting, although it may have been more motivated by efforts to keep their contributions at home. Don’t be afraid. Raise the vision for global work by providing platforms—often—for those who are going out from among us!! Don’t be afraid. The local work will grow as people’s vision for the world grows.
- Abandon the idea of “mine” and “God’s”: Our members travel. We fly, we cruise, we RV, we camp, we hike, we backpack, we tour. How can we give this part of our lives more to the Will of God instead of thinking of it as OUR special time? At LST, we hear constantly from adult Christians who take their two-week vacation and go somewhere to share their faith that it was work, BUT it was the most re-creational activity they have ever done. Great churches help their members give all of their life in God’s work.
- Great churches have leaders who GO! I really believe that every preacher/minister, every church leader would be a greater leader and better able to inspire if he/she would regularly be personally involved in evangelistic mission efforts—preferably outside of their own culture.
Great churches understand that they are not exempt from going into the entire world.
Next: Great churches understand the relationship between benevolence and evangelism!