Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Does networking count as missions?

I spend a lot of my time in meetings and in the office doing email and phone calls.  Some days I wonder if all of this admin work and networking is making any global impact and if I should just drop all of the minutia of running an organization and just make disciples of nations.  This week I got to see a glimpse of some fruit from all of this administrative labor and it involved several people working together which wouldn't have happened without a lot of networking and building relationships with different ministries.

On Thursday, I was at a meeting where a lot of the ministries in our local context were sharing updates about what was going on in the community.  One of the leaders expressed concern about an Iraqi family who they have been pouring into for quite awhile who has decided to leave Atlanta and move to Jacksonville.  They were burdened about who was going to follow up on this family.  I told them that we just had two short term mission groups that came from JAX and fell in love with refugees and the idea of reaching out to the nations that have come here.  There is also another ministry that we have built a relationship with there that does a great job of teaching English and sharing the gospel.  So, I shot a few emails out and within 24 hours those ministries had touched base with an Iraqi church planter in the area that was going to follow up on the family.  It turns out that this Iraqi family from Atlanta moved ONE BLOCK AWAY from the Iraqi church planter in Jacksonville and a visit had already been scheduled! 

Now, that's the body of Christ working together for kingdom purposes.  I guess I will continue attending meetings, building relationships, networking with like-minded ministries, sending emails to people looking for direction, answering phone calls and coaching people into next steps for missions.  It seems that part of Paul's apostolic call was to make sure that there was good collaboration between the Colossians, Corinthians, Macedonians, etc. and to ensure that there were always people in place to continue discipleship in all the places where he planted the gospel.  He spent a bit of time writing as well, although most of his was from a jail cell, so I'll find comfort that all of this may be be making an eternal difference and that God is getting lots of glory as we are obedient to Him and people are coming into the kingdom.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What is the greatest mission field?

Some of Jesus' last words were to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and then to be his witnesses in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND the ends of the earth.  It isn't an either/or commandment but a both/and proposition.  Jesus wanted his disciples to live out and preach the kingdom in all of those places.  I hear a lot of people say "why go to the ends of the earth when there is so much spiritual need right here in America" and I know us missionary types have been guilty of telling everyone that we all need to focus on the ends of the earth because America at least has a chance to receive Good News.  The truth is that the Great Commission should be translated "as you are going, make disciples...", so all mission fields are valid and important.

It think it really all boils down to intentionality and going where the Father says and doing as the Spirit leads.  I feel like if we were really in tune and listening to the Lord that there would be a lot more than 2% of the mission force working among unreached people groups in the 10/40 window and many more people at home living a missional lifestyle reaching out to neighbors, co-workers, and the foreigners that God has sent to live among us.  What would happen in the US and the ends of the earth if we did what Jesus said and waited for the Holy Spirit to come and then went out witnessing to the world everything we know about Christ and His kingdom in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND the ends of the earth?  Let's be missional; the time is short and we only get one life to steward well.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What kind of war are we waging?

I've been reflecting a bit lately on our attitudes towards soldiers in the American church vs. our attitudes towards missionaries in the American church.  This is a bit of a generalization, but I would imagine that our troops get celebrated and prayed for more than our missionaries who are also serving on the front lines.  I am guessing that there are more prayers for bin laden to get taken out than to get saved.  My theory is that the nations that get mentioned the most in our worship times might be the places where we are waging war on terror rather than the places that have the greatest spiritual need. 

Now, lest I come across as sounding like an upset missionary asking for more "air time" at church and for more finances going to the mission field, let me clarify.  My goal in posting this is to ask the question whether America and it's dream may have become our passion rather than Christ.  I wonder if our first allegiance might be to our nation rather than the kingdom of God.  You can often times tell where your heart is by looking at your treasure and also by looking at what you are willing to risk for something or someone.  It seems like Francis Chan, David Platt, and many others are asking the church these same hard questions.

I love America!  I really have never second guessed a soldier leaving his wife and children for up to 18 months at a time to make sure that our nation is safe.  It doesn't seem strange to me for someone to take mediocre pay for a chance to defend our country.  Most parents would be proud to have their children in the military and often times encourage them to do so in place of college.  I applaud someone willing to lay down their life for the cause of freedom.  We know that a lot of these people are going to come back emotionally, physically, and psychologically drained and yet we think that it is worth the risk.  It seems normal because we love, honor, cherish, and respect our country.

Now if someone wanted to make those same sacrifices to take the gospel to the places where it has never been preached, we might consider it negligent, unwise, not prudent, and not worth the risk.  It would be pretty "radical", and definitely not "normal".  That brings me to the questions that haunt me...  What's the difference between the two (war and missions)?  Why is the war on terror more of a cause worth risking everything for than the glory of God among all nations?  Why are our young people that go to Afghanistan celebrated while the ones wanting to go to the mission field discouraged?  Is it possible that we have started loving life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness more than this Christ that we claim to follow?  Why is carrying the American cross more culturally acceptable even in Christian circles than taking up Jesus'  cross? 

Where is home?  I pledge allegiance...