Seven ways to cultivate a church committed to global missions

Pastors shares ways to create a church that is on mission

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I remember leaning over a fence with Harold Ens talking about my and my wife’s future as missionaries. At the time he was the Latin American director of the Mennonite Brethren mission agency. Later Harold became the MBMS International general director.

I told Harold that day that if for some reason Esther and I didn’t return as missionaries to Bogota, Colombia, we would plant the best ever missions-supporting church in North America.

The mission agency did stop sending people back to Latin America, and in 1993 we planted Mountain View Church in Fresno, California. Even before our first gathering, which was May 1, 1994, MVC sent out our first short-term missionaries. Our first long-term missionaries left for Lithuania eight months later, Jan. 1, 1995.

I don’t think we actually have become the best missions-supporting church ever. But we still strive toward this God-inspired goal. Let me share with you seven ways we have sought to be a church on mission.

1. Burn with passion for the glory of the Lord.

When we choose to seek the presence of God, we get a glimpse of his glory. When God grants us a glimpse of his glory, he reminds us of the wonderful truth of his goodness and faithfulness, that “nothing is impossible for the Lord.” As the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

When we are overcome with the glory of the Lord, we want to see that glory come to the nations. We read the Bible and see that God’s heart is to save the world. He is a missional God. This affects everything we do in our personal life and in the life of the church.

2. Prioritize the gospel.

There is nothing worth preaching besides the gospel—that Jesus truly is the way, the truth and the life. We are headed to eternal death apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus. But Jesus died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins and take on the curse of sin, the wrath of God, for us. This is good news!

Thus, it is up to us to proclaim this gospel in word and deed through every aspect of our lives. All is that we do to help and serve people is the outworking of the gospel, not the gospel itself. This laser focus keeps all we do centered on God’s glory and reaching the world with his gospel of grace.

3. Prioritize prayer.

It has been said that “prayer moves the hand of God.” I would add, “Prayer is where we get our marching orders from the Lord of Heaven’s armies.” Prayer is our conversational lifeline to headquarters.

Living the mission God has given us includes three parts: going (living the Great Commission), giving (funding the Great Commission) and praying (empowering the Great Commission). We have to be people of prayer. We accomplish this mission on our knees, spending uninterrupted time with the King of Kings, listening to what he tells us to do.

To be missional means being a church that is a house of prayer for all the nations—not a house of action! We need to be a “Mary” church sitting at the feet of Jesus, not a “Martha” church running a business-type power organization. Prayer is about the presence of Jesus. We need his presence.

4. Prioritize people coming to faith in Jesus and sacrifice everything to see it happen.

All that we do must focus on the goal of people saying yes to Jesus. If we love God and love people, we must tell them the truth of where their eternity lies. We are compelled by love to share the only hope any of us have, which is turning from our sin and turning toward Jesus. Therefore, every activity and program in the church must be evaluated by its effectiveness in reaching people for Jesus. We do whatever it takes to reach people and put all we have into it.

That does not mean we don’t prioritize discipleship. The true disciple lives under a passion to glorify God, and that happens best as people come to faith in Jesus. Discipleship has not happened if there is no passion for the lost around the globe to be found.

So, we call people to salvation at every Sunday gathering. We train people to know how to share Jesus with their friends. We share faith stories on Sundays. We take time to pray for the wins and losses of the body of Christ throughout the world. This “missions moment” each gathering is a way to highlight what the Lord is doing as we go, give and pray. It also helps create a missional DNA throughout the faith family. Mission weeks, conferences and local events are key in engaging the church in their own spheres of influence and the world.

We want to live out Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:15, “All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.”

We are prepared to give up anything for the sake of lost people. It is an honor to give our time, money and abilities for the global lost.

5. Do church planting among the unreached and least reached.

We want to go to the hard places, where there is 2 percent or less evangelical Christians. When God calls us, he calls us to those who have never heard his good news. All the easy places are taken. Only the places where it is hard to see people come to faith are left, places where other false religions are entrenched and hostile to followers of Jesus. God is calling us to play a role in leading these people to Jesus.

6. Say yes” to each opportunity God brings to you, walk by faith and take risks.

God brings us opportunities. However, we have to say yes to them. We ask God, “Who do you want me to minister to today?” Saying yes means living in risk and faith, being ready to embrace the mystery of God. God owes us no explanation, but we owe him our obedience. Jesus was not in the habit of explaining to the disciples why he wanted them to do what he asked—he expected them to walk by faith and obey. It is the same today. We should never, ever say no to Jesus!

7. Celebrate what God is doing.

We should celebrate what Jesus is doing. We should yell, clap and cheer when people get saved, when great reports come in, when miracles happen, when the good news is shared, when churches are planted, and so much more. We should be places that celebrate the victories of God in the world. What we reward, celebrate and champion, we get more of. Let’s celebrate reaching God’s world for his glory.

If you would like to join Mountain View Church for the Live The Mission Conference, which will include speakers like Tracy Evans of iReach Africa, Stephen Mairori of International Christian Ministries, and Dick Brogden of Live/Dead, you can find more information at mountainview.org or scan the QR code.

This essay was also published in MB Herald Digest, the online magazine of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Fred, for your timely reminder for us to be people of God on mission, both individually and collectively. My heart was pumped with increasing excitement as I read and pondered the seven biblical and practical ways to do this.

    It is my prayer every member of MVC, every person reading this article, and really, every disciple of Jesus, would approach this blessed task and honestly say, “I strive to burn with passion for the glory of the Lord, prioritize the Gospel, prayer, people coming to faith…etc.” And then do it.

    In the end, our personal lives, our greater corporate testimony, and the lives of the people we preach the Gospel to will be greatly blessed by our obedience.

  2. Has an European, and dealing in a daily basis with European Conferences, there are other issues that need to be called for…Europe is being very impacted with the war Ukraine/Russia, so the European Mennonite/Mennonite Brethren Conferences have a much bigger focus on how to support another European Conference, Ukraine Mennonite Brethren Conference…and when it regards to do a fellow support the European Mennonite Brotherhood is doing all they can…for many many months. So, one thing is the North American mindset of Global Missions, the European mindset is, right now, supporting Ukraine the best and most effective way. Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, UK, Albania are all doing a direct effort…sadly there’s not enough information going on about what’s European Conferences are doing. But anyway…we are working strong and well!!! Please pray for Europe, and please pray for all the countries I’ve mentioned!
    José Arrais
    European Coordinator of Mennonite Conferences

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