Last week I was with persecuted Christians. A young mother was taken away in handcuffs and placed in leg shackles and put in a dingy wooden village jail, treated like a common criminal. Her only crime…refusing to sign a paper that would effectively deny her faith in Jesus.
This week I’m with privileged Christians. After a trendy worship service led by a guy in skinny jeans I get to go to lunch in an expensive SUV and stuff my face with double doubles from In-N-Out burger. My only frustration…I forgot to hold the pickles.
We live in a globalized world where Christians in the West are more resourced and informed than ever but care less and less about God’s global mission to establish his reign among every people, tribe, language and nation. God is about mission and mission is about God. His global redemptive purpose is to bring about His expressed worship and glory among every heart on planet earth “from the rising to the setting of the sun” (Mal. 1:11).
Mission is what we do for God’s global purposes. Missional is how we live for God’s global purposes.
At one point in history we, Christians in the West, led the way in missional living by sending our best cross-cultural workers to advance God’s Kingdom through pioneer mission in unreached nations. Today that trend is changing for two reasons;
One) indigenous third world disciples are taking the mantle of the Great Commission and going to the ends of the earth…and they are doing it with much greater effectiveness than we ever could, and
Two) our Churches in the West have reduced mission to our personal spheres and not God’s global agenda. We’ve privatized our faith to our Jerusalem’s only and can’t even identify our Judea’s and Samaria’s, let alone the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
We’re living in a post-missional West where secularism has invaded our faith and Churches have lost that missional edge. We’ve become cultural Christians and are more concerned with national interests like Super bowls, Sunday Services, personal security, freedom of expression and status quo spirituality. We don’t actually want to change the world for Jesus because we are comfortable with just being in it. We don’t really care for the lone woman in jail for her faith.
As the Church in the West we have to ask ourselves,
Is cross-cultural mission to our neighbors and the nations even necessary in this day and age? Should we live missionaly even if we aren’t “called”? Is the Good News that Jesus died, was buried and rose again still worth sharing?
The answer is YES and here’s 10 reasons why mission matters in our post missional world:
1. Our Clicktivism is Not Enough
Counterfeit social media spirituality is not enough to reach your neighbor, let alone reach the world. Some of us are content to do digital justice, walk humbly and love mercy by just “clicking here” …that’s just being lazy. Digital ministries that revolve around social media, blogs, podcasts and audio-visual tools are necessary but only reach a certain demographic. Real people need real people. Living missionaly is uncomfortable and it requires us to physically get off our media devices and get involved in people’s lives.
2. Our Money is Meaningless
Supporting cross-cultural workers, starting socially conscious businesses and giving generously to Kingdom causes is a noble thing – but many millennials like myself are not even doing that. We spend more on movie tickets and cell phones plans than we do on missional causes.
In fact, the money that Christians do give is used disproportionally, with less than 1 cent out of every dollar going towards the unreached in places that need it the most. Most of our money goes to maintain existing ministries and Churches in reached areas.
The way we give has also created a culture of disengagement. Crowd sourcing and community funding has become charity without responsibility, sympathetic giving that appeals only to our emotions. Jesus commanded us to give our whole heart, soul and mind (Matt. 22:37). Lost people don’t need our money they need our witness. Our giving should be informed (know the issues), strategic (towards the greatest needs) and communal (kept accountable).
3. Our Prayers are Ineffective
The biggest killer to the missional life is our lack of prayer. Prayer is the practice that connects heaven and earth. It shows our trust and reliance on the God who spoke the world into place. It’s the catalyst for change and the most effective thing we can do to live life on mission – but our prayers suck. Most of us just pray casually over a meal or don’t do it at all. It’s been regulated to old people who “really believe” and young children before bedtime.
We must start praying insightfully, strategically and relevantly. We need to pray with a missional paradigm, letting the Great Commission seep deep into our bones, struggling desperately for those who are lost, crying out personally and corporately for our neighbors and the nations.
4. Our Methods are Unbiblical
Many of the common evangelistic practices that we promote today are not in Scripture. From our huge evangelistic rallies, to our passing out of tracts, to our Sunday morning programs, to our hype of sending short term mission teams. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these methods, God can still use them – they’re just seriously lacking in a key Scriptural principle…obedience.
Biblical obedience says to go and be a light in dark places. Our ministries say come and check out our bright lights. No wonder we’re stuck in a post-missional Church culture, we are simply catering to religious consumers but not training obedient disciples. To reach the world we must be intentional about going to the lost, Gospeling in the heart language, growing fruitful disciples and gathering communities of faith.
5. Our Generation Will Pass
Millennials (born 1977-1995) will one day rule the world. I’m serious, in 20-30 years’ time all the world leadership positions will be filled by people our generation. But the best years of our lives are not in the future, it’s now. Now is time to go all in for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
We have been conditioned by our post-missional Church culture to play it safe. To give the best years of our lives to our educations, careers and personal security. Jesus said that “if anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). We need to take advantage of the time we have left and start living as families on mission, sacrificing the “good life” for the future hope and Kingdom we will one day receive.
6. Mission Matters to Our Kids
Those coming after us, Generations Y and Z (born after 1996), are some of the most privileged generation on earth. Growing up without the struggles we had (especially if you are an immigrant or refugee of bi-cultural descent) in a post-Christian, post-missional world. It only takes one generation to forget the blessings of God. As we live in a land overflowing with milk and honey, I’m afraid we are raising up a generation of sheltered, unchurched and metaphorically overweight sissies. But that can change…
Our children have the potential to become apostolically gifted pioneers who can cross-cultures and partner with existing indigenous leaders to reach the ends of the earth. They will also be key to reaching a secularized post-Christian West. To reclaim God’s missional heart for our kids we must model for and prepare them to become global citizens who engage in global issues for the purpose of God’s global glory.
7. Mission Matters to the Poor
The reason for social justice is not justice, it’s God’s infinite glory. Justice is His alone to deal. We love the poor, feed the hungry, adopt the orphan and welcome the refugee not for their sake but for Jesus’ sake. In trying to reclaim mission and sound trendy many churches are calling this mission, it’s not. It’s localized ministry that all communities of faith should be actively engaged in. We should reserve the terms mission and missional for all things global.
As we engage in local social justice our hearts can be awakened to global needs. Our cross-cultural experiences can prepare us for overseas work because the overwhelming number of needy people who live in true poverty and under true oppression live outside our country. Our social justice must start locally with intent to move globally and be properly motivated by God’s glory in the worship of Jesus.
8. Mission Matters to the Unreached
We speak often of the undeserved and unserved but don’t talk about the unreached. Churches that promote their definition of mission often include the hurting but exclude the global lost. Part of this is because we are unaware and another is because the issues of other nations have become so complex and overwhelming that we just write it off and assume that someone else is doing it. They are not. The majority of Christian workers, missioners and ministries are in reached nations.
There are countless people on this earth that have yet to hear the Good News that Jesus lived, died, was buried and rose again. Without someone going they will never have an opportunity to hear. The Gospel is worth sharing. It’s worth living for. It’s worth dying for. It’s worth eternity.
No matter what statistics you read or what anyone says, we will never reach the nations by staying in the U.S.A. The overwhelming number of lost people, 3 billion, exist outside our country. This doesn’t mean that everyone must go to foreign lands but it does mean that all must contribute towards global outreach. The radical pioneer, Hudson Taylor, reminds us that “the Great Commission is not an option to be considered, it is a command to be obeyed.” We can all do our part to reach the nations by either learning, praying, going, sending, welcoming or mobilizing.
9. Mission Matters to Those Yet to Be Born
By 2050 the world population will reach 9.7 billion! We are currently at 7.5 billion. If we continue to do traditional evangelism as we know it (attractional outreach, build church buildings, stay home, etc.) we will never reach the world and testify to all nations as Jesus intended (Matt. 24:14). The unreached will continue to be born, grow old and die without ever hearing the name of Jesus.
Like the reproduction of babies the Gospel itself must exponentially multiply in order to keep up with and surpass population growth. In order for there to be a witness among future generations, disciples must be raised up in a way that is reproducible, churches must be planted in places that are unreached (1040 Window), and the Word of God must be passed on in the heart language of the people.
10. Mission Matters to God’s Heart
The woman who refused to deny her faith and was unjustly put in a dingy village jail matters to God, because she is a part of His Global Church. The Church is the Bride that He died for and sent His Son to redeem. There is always hope for the Bride. Despite the fact that we live in a post-missional world and our Churches may have lost that missional edge, God will always be a missionary God. His heart will always beat for the nations. He will always be in the business of sending, redeeming and discipling. God’s end vision is clearly laid out in Scripture. People from every tribe, tongue, language and nation worshipping Him (Rev. 7:9). Whether we join Him in that work is up to us.
Joining God on His mission means our lives should actually reflect His mission. It means that despite our privilege we must seek ways to identify with the persecuted. We must live with God’s global purposes in mind. We must bind ourselves to the greatest expression of human love, the Great Commandment, and obey it by making disciples of all nations, the Great Commission. This is why mission matters. This is worship.
sounds to me like you made some pertinent observations. The possibility to remember Pentecost (and pray for fresh Spirit infusions) is a few days away- I will pray with these this blog in mind as well.
Thanks Ron for reading and remembering Pentecost. I can use me some of that fresh Spirit infusion as well!
You always challenge me! Asking God to help me be obedient to these admonitions! Praising God for you and your sweet family and your obedience to Him!
Thank you Lynda for always cheering us on…we need more people like you!
I did a posting here several weeks ago but it is not showing up. Were you offended by it?
Sorry, I don’t know what posting you are talking about…I usually leave them all and respond to them all.
Point 2. I have jpg file of a chart that I copied from Leadership Journal in an article on “normal church budgeting. It shows that 84% of “giving” is consumed inside the building to benefit mostly those who “give” the money. Only 16% leaves the building. This is considered normal. From every church I have seen, this is accurate. The 84% is primarily just 2 items. Hired staff and facilities. This is SO CORRUPT. This is pooling, buying and selling, not giving. This is SYSTEMATIZED consumer church. Consuming the giving.
Just before this article came in my magazine, I saw this same percentage in my “church”. 25% was going out the door. My heart was convicted. I was consuming my “giving”. I was a pooler, not a giver. I had no idea as to how to practice church where 100% of my giving went beyond my “needs”. So I asked God to show me how to do this. He showed me EXACTLY how it’s done over the course of the next few years. He had already introduced me to some of the concepts in the past 15 years but I was resistant to search it out further. I was complacent to accept the traditions handed down to me.
From the chart I realized I only had to give up 2 things for 100% of my giving to go out the door. 1. Hired staff (Professionalized version of Pastor) 2. Special buildings with a pulpit in the front. Both these items are inseparably connected.
All my life I have heard the cliches “Those who preach the gospel should get their living from the gospel.” 1 Cor. 9:14 And, “those who labor in the word are worthy of double honor”. Double honor being a full pay check. God began to show me how the Apostle Paul practiced and taught the exact opposite of getting a full pay check from lecturing the Bible every week to 60-120 people every week forever and ever. The two texts above LOOK like open and shut case on professionalized pastoring. They are not. They are both severely twisted both in the translation and in their exposition. EVERY SINGLE Bible expert in the country will not speak to what is there. They are ALL severely compromised at the heart so they cannot even see it. I’m giving them credit for not actually seeing it and lying about it. They are blind, which is not good either. They ALL want a full pay check from their “ministry” so they all have a vested interest, a conflict of interest in recognizing the truth.
This practice has been in place for 500 years with evangelicals – since the Reformation. No one alive today invented this system. They just perpetuate and export this to every country Americans plant churches. I was born in the Philippines 61 years ago and saw what could be the greatest turning to God in one country. There may be 10,000 evangelical churches in the Philippines. In this much poorer country they must consume 99% of their “giving” to pay their preacher and maintain their pulpit building. They have been sending missionaries for the last 50 years and only send about 100 out of all those churches. I know there are thousands of Filipinos who could be sent to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and learn the language 10 times faster and better than an American. They could connect at the local level of culture 100 times better than an American. They could be sent for 1/10 or even less of the cost of an American. This is a severe shut down of the gospel, both on the part of the wealthiest church the world has ever known with the most highly advanced gospel infrastructure, and a shut down of the church they plant in poorer countries in the world.
I have written a free book that looks at the main texts in the NT that are twisted to push professionalized leadership and those where Paul teaches always combining marketplace work with spiritual leadership. It is in PDF format so it can be sent anywhere easily. It is not professionally edited yet so it’s a little rough in the grammar. I am not aware of anything written on this that is extensive and shows the exegetical corruption by ALL the Bible experts. You might like to read it and interact with me on these scriptures and what should be done to rebuke, correct, and instruct in righteousness all those to love the current practice.
Thanks for your thoughtful response and insight into giving and Kingdom resource management. First off, I just want to commend you for your passionate response to God’s conviction in this area and your engagement on the issue through study and reflection and writing.
Second, I would have to agree with most of what you wrote. The passages that you mentioned are sometimes taken out of context. Paul had many methods of support but he was also apostolically (pioneering) focused. Paul and the Early Church’s use of finances are the subjects of lots of writings and missiological discussions.
The only things I would disagree with is in the area of your communication and practice.
When you write you are saying “ALL” Bible experts. I don’t think a generalization like that is accurate. Unless you really know them all and have met them all you can’t really say that is true.
Lastly, I’m not confident that we should be in the business of rebuking other churches or pastors. The Biblical pattern is for that to be done in local communities, with your own community.
I am a practitioner at heart and desire to move people in small steps (as you can see by all my writings). The best way to move people into Kingdom Living that I can think of is to show people how I live my life and how I use my resources and invite them along. Yes, I feel the same frustrations as you do, but speaking harshly against professionalized leadership (of which I am but don’t propagate) and the institutionalized church (of which I am apart of but work outside of) is not the answer. People need truth AND grace.
Feel free to send me your short book…
Missiological discussions are hard to acquire. Missions is supposed to be focused on the unreached. These are locations where the gospel is persecuted and / or tiny villages where a professional could not be supported. They have to talk about it, but they will ONLY talk about it for these reasons. If you see them talking about it because Paul taught and exemplified it, then let me know so I can see it. I confront this issue often on Mission Frontiers online magazine and no one has suggested it but one brother in India who is writing about it. The American church, with all it’s wealth needs this but “Bible experts” will not deal honestly with the scriptures. There are sooooo much twisting, and false translations to be used from 500 years of practice for the truth to be considered.
I have read books and articles on “bi-vocational” ministry. There are many in this country who practice this. But all of them would want a full pay check if they could get it.They don’t acknowledge the power of ministry “free of charge”. They struggle with trying to work in the marketplace, care for their family, and deliver a weekly Bible lecture for 30-45 minutes. They don’t know that “preach the word, in season and out of season…” cannot be exposited to mean lecture the word by ONLY one man for the whole time, in season and out of season…” The whole professionalized “pastorate” package is corrupted.
Regarding “ALL” Bible experts. There are places where generalizations are true. There may be minuscule exceptions, but that does not negate the generalization. There is a system in place. It is practiced everywhere in every name brand, coast to coast. Over the course of 500 years since the reformation, the hundreds of corrections that have started new brand named groupings of believers, none have addressed this issue. There are men who do serve “free of charge”. Most of them still want a pay check because “full time ministry” is championed to them as THE way to real leadership. In the Philippines, men are shamed if they combine marketplace work with spiritual leadership. The only problem is they just can’t get enough people in one room or they are in a small poor community where the concept falls apart. These believers don’t consider themselves Bible experts. Bible experts are those who tout their elevated Bible degrees, publish books, specialize in lecturing the Bible every week, or for some, more often, at conferences and on the radio or TV. That is the vast majority of leaders in this country. There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake EVERY YEAR, in this generalization or system of practice. Every seminary pushes out graduates assuming a full pay check for a weekly Bible lecture and other clergy routines.
I think I only mentioned two scriptures. They are always, not sometimes taken out of context, and, twisted, and one has a bogus translation that could be corrected by anyone who knows Greek, but they all accept the corrupt translation. Paul was not just a pioneer, he was a foundation setter as an example to follow for the practice of church life in every culture and in every generation. Do you agree with this?
I don’t know where you come up with a Biblical pattern for rebuke and correction to only take place in local communities. I am aware that if I have a problem with an individual in my local community I need to start by talking to him personally. This is not that issue. This is system wide. You know there is one church with one head. There is one body. There is one family. There is one bride. God’s word is inspired by God for “teaching, rebuke, correction, and instruction in righteousness”. If you shut down the middle two purposes, who have to shut down the other two. It makes no sense to pick the middle two. I have to admit I am rebuking one of the most foundational beliefs in the household of faith. We all read the same Bible and worship the same Lord. What am I missing?
I move people in steps that the Lord grants, big or small. I have to address every excuse. Ten very clear scriptures can be nullified in the mind of anyone with just one excuse, twist of the text or bogus translation. The power of traditions of men is as strong today as it was in Jesus time. No one will seek to crucify my but there are many other things they will do. I have experienced it already. I currently attend an institutional church to honor my mother who is 96. I could start an organic fellowship but I need to honor my parents. As God connects me to believers, anywhere, at anytime, I will listen for God’s instructions for what to share or not to share. Responding to your article is just one of many.
I don’t speak harshly with institutional leaders just to be harsh. I don’t do any name calling or deprecating. If what they say is not accurate I confront it as such. I make no pronouncements about where they will spend eternity. Here is a quote from Paul of how to respond to those who reject his apostolic example in combining marketplace work with spiritual leadership:
2 This. 3:14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
What is the specific teaching for this context? The same separation instruction is at the beginning of this context. The apostolic “tradition” from Paul was his “example” of “labor” and “working night and day” to “not be a burden” or “eat anyone’s bread without paying for it”, or in other words, combine marketplace work with spiritual leadership so you are not a burden, a load, a weight on the people. There are several bogus translations in this passage. I wonder if you know where?
2 This. 3:6-13 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would [m]follow our example.
Does this sound harsh to you? The ramifications for gospel ministry on this one instruction are far reaching in shutting down the gospel to being delivered to every tribe and nation and being delivered in intimacy and mutuality by all God’s people, not just a few experts in stadiums or on the radio or TV. I have not yet refused association with anyone yet. But according to Paul, I should. This seems harsh to me, but I can’t throw out Paul’s inspired writing. I offer the truth in full open, two way communication, intimacy and mutuality. That is grace.
Sorry Tim for this late response. Blogging is very low on my priority list so I just saw your post.
I have read it through several times and tried to understand your point of view but honestly your logic is hard to follow.
Again, I agree with your presuppositions, that there are systemic issues in the church and this has deeply affected mission, but I don’t agree with your assessment, that “All” and “Every” person who is part of the system has been corrupted.
If you write academically or scientifically, then you will know that generalizations are not academic nor scientific. Statements like that will never pass, because it comes out as dogma or bias.
You again write and argue using generalizations, defending generalizations and do not offer any constructive solutions – as a result I don’t understand in what key areas you want to see change.
I tell my wife often, “Babe, I understand your frustration, and I’m trying to listen cause I know your trying to vent. But there’s a point where this becomes complaining and unhelpful to all sides. Let’s pray, and then talk about possible solutions for a way forward.”
So Tim, if you want change, be the change. And I am willing to open up my personal life to talk and share openly and respectfully about all the possible options for a way forward that is full of humility, grace and passion for God’s glory.
Tobias, wrt your “10 REASONS WHY MISSION MATTERS IN A POST MISSIONAL WORLD”, well said. Thanks & please continue
Thanks also for reading and more importantly, let’s continue to LIVE OUT the things we write!
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Reblogged this on GlobalCAST Resources and commented:
A great fuel for mobilizers who can help communicate “10 reasons why mission matters in our post missional world”.
is there a way in which one can get Tim Aargard’s pdf he refers to on 1 Cor 9. He brings out some pertinent points one might benefit from a more closer reading of his thoughts! The current article is poignant and makes a blessed reading!
I’m on Facebook. You can message me and I can attach it or include your email and I can attach it. If you’re not on facebook timaag at gmail dot com.