In 2017 we’ll be celebrating 10 years of serving overseas as cross cultural Kingdom workers…that’s insane! When people hear that they often ask how much longer do we plan to stay overseas. The short answer is, “When the work is done.”
There is this misconception that missionaries leave for the jungles and return decades later wearing clothes from the last century and are out of touch with current technology and pop culture. Truth is missionaries are too broke to buy the latest gadgets and can care less about pop culture – what ALL missionaries DESIRE is to see their work complete and their people reached for God’s glory. Missionaries don’t plan on being in one location forever but are forever committed to the vision of God’s fame among every people, tribe and language.
The goal of many church planters and missionaries is to work themselves out of a job by establishing churches that are self reproducing, self governing and self correcting. They do that by making disciples who carry on the work of making disciples when they are long gone. They are driven by an end vision – a clear mental picture of what could be fueled by the conviction that it should be. (taken from Andy Stanley)
Any introductory business class will tell you that having an end vision is important. But a God inspired end vision is much more than just bottom lines and business. It is a supernatural journey of living out Biblical principles to bring God ultimate fame. What is the vision that God’s laid on your heart? Is it clear? Here are 4 ways to clarify your end vision:
1. Understand Your Context
You have to begin by asking the right questions. If God is really concerned about the 3 billion lost people on my planet, who are the lost people in my community? What are their histories, cultures and worldviews? What are the barriers and bridges to bringing them the Good News? How can I love them in practical ways?
You can’t begin to love on people if you don’t know their needs. You can’t begin to communicate the Gospel if you don’t speak their language. You can begin to address deep rooted cultural issues and see societal change until you know your people. Your profiling homework will help direct your activities for years to come and be the foundation for your exit strategy / end vision.
2. Write Out a Faith-filled End Vision
As you understand more of your people or target area it will be become clearer as to what is required of you. As you understand more of your Scriptures it will become clearer as to what the Father requires of you. This is your end vision.
Your vision statement needs to be memorable, measurable and motivational. It needs to be simple enough that anyone can remember, usually a sentence or two. It needs to be possible enough to achieve, usually a specified area or people group. Lastly, it needs to be impossible to do apart from faith in a big God. This is what you and your team will wake up every morning thinking about and praying for.
3. Set Goals & Ruthlessly Evaluate Progress
I hate setting goals and keeping points…they remind me of my 450 hours of community service I accumulated as a juvenile delinquent. I’m better at breaking goals than keeping them. But I’ve come a long way from stealing cars, eating Doritos and playing Xbox. Discipline, accountability and goal setting played a huge role in my transformation.
Start with your end vision and work your way backwards. What are the key activities that need to happen in order to see the vision come to pass? If your vision is to see hundreds of churches among an unreached people group numbering in the millions; How would you GO and enter their communities? How would you share the GOOD NEWS? How would you GROW disciples? How would you GATHER churches? Setting manageable goals allows you to focus on important activities, communicate clearly and track your progress towards the end vision.
Lastly, remember to stay flexible. It’s not really about accomplishing a bunch of stuff, it’s about what you learn along the way. Being driven is a good quality but it starts to suck when you run people over in pursuit of meeting goals. Make sure to celebrate those small victories together but don’t get side tracked by them. Being flexible means your willing to learn from all the things you do right and all the things you do wrong.
4. Be Gangsta and Don’t Quit
On the streets your gang is your family. There is a deep sense of loyalty among young thugs who go through the same struggle and come from the same background. No to mention how difficult it is to join a gang in the first place – you usually have to commit a crime or get jumped in.
Churches and mission agencies work so hard to get people overseas but fail to keep them there. The average time that cross cultural missionaries serve oversees is 2 years before they go home for various reasons; marriage, education, health. Church plants in the West don’t do any better and usually fail within the first year because they “don’t have enough” money, core staff, attendees, meeting spaces, etc. (all things that don’t define the biblical church by the way).
Ultimately we fail due to a lack of vision and faith to pursue it. We trust in a man-inspired vision rather than a divinely-inspired vision. We jump in without really knowing our context, defining our end vision, setting goals and being gangsta. There’s a lot we can learn from gang members. They don’t give up because they were vouched at a cost and paid a high price to join. Jesus is the one who speaks on our behalf, paid the price of our sin and laid out a clear end vision. God’s passion for redeeming a lost world among all peoples is clearly seen throughout scripture. That’s enough for my family and I to give our lives to and not quit when it gets tough. Is that enough for you?