Building Global Minded Christians
Mark A. Mays
This thesis is dedicated to my loving, supportive, and patient wife, Amy, who spent many nights alone while I worked third shift to finish my degree. And to my father, David Mays, who has encouraged and supported me my entire life, and has been the primary influence in my understanding of the mission of the church.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
These are the final words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (28:18-20).
Commonly referred to as the Great Commission, this passage has largely been embraced by the evangelical community as the mission of the Church.
There are at least three reasons the church today has good reason to place high value on these parting words of Jesus. Being the masterful teacher that He was, Jesus understood the importance of leaving a
lasting impression. His resurrection appearances were a gift to those who had followed Him before His death. Seeing Him alive proved to them the credibility of all His claims and teachings. Now their ears and eyes were more attentive than ever. The choice of Jesus’ final words would echo in their mind for the rest of their lives. The parting words of the risen Messiah would be repeated to all generations to come. For this same reason, today’s church values the last spoken words of the Savior’s earthly ministry.
A second and more significant reason for taking this passage to heart is the fact that Jesus’ parting words outlined the mission of the Church. The disciples who received His instructions became the New Testament Church. They were filled with the Holy Spirit for the enabling of this mission. They lived and breathed the privilege and responsibility of carrying out the commands of their Lord. Aubrey Malphurs, professor at Dallas Seminary, shares in Ministry Nuts and Bolts, “The reason that the
early church’s mission is so important to us in the present is that its mission is our mission. The mission that Christ gave to the church in the first century is the same that he gives to us for the twenty-first century”1 (67). Modern-day Christians have the same privilege and responsibility to obey the final words of Jesus.
The third and most crucial reason today’s church should embrace the Great Commission is because it relates to the overarching purpose of God. Jesus, command to “make disciples of all nations,” is not merely something He hopes the church will do, it is something He and The Father are intent on doing! Matthew 28:18-20 falls among scores of other passages from Genesis to Revelation that reveal God’s mission to the world and the role of the church in that mission. It is this mission, when accomplished, that will make possible “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). The Great Commission reveals God’s command for His people to accomplish His purpose, by taking His Son to the ends of His earth, to build His eternal Kingdom. It’s all about Him.
The problem of this thesis was to develop a global evangelism mobilization strategy for Fellowship Missionary Church (FMC) located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This strategy provides the structure by which Fellowship may lead, equip, empower, and release the body to make disciples of all nations, in accordance with the overarching purpose of the Church.
Purpose of the Study
The student addressed this problem by dividing the research into five questions.
1. How does God’s purpose for the world relate to the purpose of His people?
a) A study of God’s mission and His people in the Old Testament.
b) A study of God’s mission and His people in the New Testament.
2. What perception do FMC ministry leaders have concerning their role in world evangelism?
a) An assessment of the perceived efforts and expectations of the ministry staff.
b) An assessment of the practices and activities of FMC small group leaders.
3. What does world evangelism mobilization look like in the local church?
a) A study of churches across America recognized as models in world evangelism mobilization.
b) A synthesis of mobilization principles outlined by church consultants.
4. How might these principles be applied to Fellowship Missionary Church? A global evangelism mobilization strategy.
The student researched the biblical theology of God’s purpose for the world and His people by studying Scripture and the writings of several biblical scholars. The student identified history, prophecy, poetry and writings, teachings and commands relating to God or Jesus and the peoples of the earth, the nations, the Gentiles, the Jews, the disciples, and the church.
The student developed and administered two surveys to asses world evangelism perceptions of FMC ministry leaders. Both surveys asked questions concerning local evangelism, local cross-cultural evangelism, and international evangelism. From the collected data, the student made observations and conclusions about the perceived world evangelism efforts and expectations of FMC ministry leaders. Chapter 3 outlines the details concerning the survey development and administration, and the data collection and analysis.
The student learned about current global-minded churches by attending a regional ACMC conference (Activating Churches in Missions Commitment). This conference, hosted by Ward Church in Northville, Michigan, on Saturday, February 23, 2002 drew over four hundred church representatives interested in improving the world evangelism efforts of their church. Through workshops, one-on-one conversations, and reading the student discovered practical efforts churches are making to build
global-minded Christians. The student researched church mobilization principles through literary
research and interviews. He studied integration principles from ACMC and Global Focus resources. He discussed mobilization strategies with David Mays (ACMC Regional Director), Bruce Camp (CEO of DualReach) and his assistant Ellen Livingood, and Wayne Feay (Executive Pastor of Fellowship Missionary Church).
As a result of this research the student discovered the primary ingredients necessary to develop a global evangelism mobilization strategy for Fellowship Missionary Church.
Review of the Literature
The emphasis on building a global mindset into every believer is lacking in much of the “Great Commission” literature available today. Most current books, articles, sermons, and seminars that explore the implications of the Great Commission for today’s church do so in a primarily localized fashion. Frequently, the major thrust of such literature aims at growing a larger and healthier congregation. Experts outline principles, share strategies, and explain techniques to help local churches do a better job at growing the members within their body and/or reaching the lost within their community. If and when global outreach is discussed, it is often relegated to a program or project, as
an extension or arm of the church’s ministry to be explored and developed by a portion of the body. James Engel laments in Clouded Future, “For all the talk about the Great Commission in current church growth and purpose-driven church literature, there is virtually nothing written about involvement in the ministries outside the church’s local community” (6).
There are some Christian leaders, however, who see more at stake in the Great Commission than the local congregation and her near neighbors. Leslie Newbigin admits, “We do not adequately confess Christ as the God of all men if we seek to be his witnesses only among our neighbors. We must seek at the same time to confess him to the ends of the earth” (13). Paul McKaughan in Choosing a Future for U.S. Missions, warns, “The church is a subplot to the bigger story. If it exists for its own sake, or its own growth, it has probably already broken the first commandment” (84). Another strong statement is given by A.B. Simpson in Missionary Messages, who writes, “God requires no person to spend his or her life reiterating the gospel to people who will not receive it. He wants everyone to have an opportunity to hear. Then He would have us move on to other areas. The mistake of the church has been that she sits down to convert all the people in one country to the neglect of the great masses who have never had the chance to hear the gospel – not even once!” (17).
Ron Blue, a Dallas Seminary professor of missions and the President of Central America Mission, believes that a global focus should be central to everything the church does. “Without world witness Christian leadership becomes shortsighted and self-centered and eventually brings stagnation to the church” (6). Newbigin agrees that “mission is not a detachable part of the Church’s being, but is the central meaning of the Church’s being” (12). The thesis of Charles Van Engen’s book, God’s Missionary People, “is that as local congregations are built up to reach out in mission to the world, they will become in fact what they already are by faith: God’s missionary people” (14). Other writers who explore
God’s global intent for the church include John Piper (Let the Nations be Glad), Patrick Johnstone (The Church is Bigger than You Think), and H. Goerner (All Nations in God’s Purpose).
It is essential that Christians understand the individual call inherent within the corporate mandate of the Great Commission. Jesus commanded the disciples to make disciples of all nations. His command pertained to each of them individually as well as corporately (as the body of Christ). David Shibley states, “The purpose of the church is to bring God glory through the worldwide proclamation, reception and worship of His Son. This is our corporate purpose. It should be our individual purpose as well” (17). Blue explains, “every member needs to see the church as a lighthouse to the world” (159). Art Beals, author of When the Saints Go Marching Out, concludes, “Christ’s commission is for the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world! Every member is called to participate in mission” (138). This does not mean that every believer is called to leave the country. Rather, as Shibley puts it, “Not every believer has the missionary gift, but every Christian is called to some kind of involvement in missions. We are called to advance the gospel in some way and to participate in the fulfilling of God’s purposes in our generation” (101).
Rick Warren, in The Purpose Driven Church communicates the importance of being intentional and directional in the leadership of the church. He says that churches must communicate their purposes to everyone in the church on a regular basis, and then apply their purposes to every part of the church if they want to be successful (94). Warren, like many others, defines successful as fulfilling the great Commission. “Any church that is not obeying the Great Commission is failing its purpose, no matter what it does” (64). Bill Lawrence strongly believes that “No pastor is fully obedient to Christ if he does not lead his church to pursue the Great Commission by making disciples both locally and around
the world” (53). By “making disciples,” Lawrence means, building people to disciple the nations, with the understanding that ‘nations’ refers to distinct people marked by cultural uniqueness whether close to us or far away. However we communicate it, making disciples means basically to reproduce reproducers” (57). He argues, “…a careful study of Matthew 28:18-20 shows that it is the most comprehensive statement of the church’s purpose found anywhere in Scripture” (53).
The preceding claims and arguments are the result of Christians recognizing the biblical theology of God’s heart for the world and His call to the church. Each section of the Bible reveals elements of this
overarching theme. Several authors trace God’s mission to the world as it is revealed in Scripture. Roger E. Hedlund writes, The Mission of the Church in the World. Walter Kaiser traces Mission in the Old Testament. John Piper highlights “the supremacy of God in all nations” in Let the Nations Be Glad. Johannes Blauw shares The Missionary Nature of the Church. Robert Hall Glover (The Biblical Basis of Missions), H. Cornell Goerner (All Nations in God’s Purpose), and George W. Peters (A Biblical Theology of Missions) all present sound arguments for the Biblical basis of God’s global purpose.
If a church accepts the Great Commission as its purpose, it would make sense that the leaders of the church would to communicate to the entire church its mission to make disciples of all nations; the staff would recognize their role mobilizing the people of the church to reach lost people both locally and around the world; the ministries of the church would exist for the purposes of completing the task of world evangelism.
Unfortunately, there has not been significant effort to assess whether churches are, in fact, organized around this overarching purpose. The student was not able to find any up-to-date published assessment strategies that related to the efforts and expectations of the local church concerning world evangelism. The most recent assessment tools were developed by ACMC (Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment) in 1991 and 1992. How Missions-Minded is Your Church is a self-evaluation
profile “designed to enable a church to evaluate its missions involvement simply and quickly.” ACMC defines “missions” as “Any endeavor aimed toward the goal of reaching beyond the needs of the local
congregation for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission, by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, making disciples and relating to the whole need of mankind, both spiritual and physical.” The ACMC Missions Diagnostic is a Congregational Survey that measures church members’ attitudes and
actions relating to world evangelism.
Although church assessments are lacking, there are some resources available that provide models and principles of church-based world evangelism efforts. Examples of global minded churches can be found in Tom Telford’s collection of Today’s All-Star Missions Churches. Art Beal’s book, When the Saints Go Marching Out, outlines principles for the local church’s outreach efforts. John Rowell, in his book Magnify Your Vision for the Small Church, tells the story of his church’s success at expanding the walls of its ministry. Mobilization principles abound in ACMC resources, including three workbooks developed by David Mays: How to Operate an Effective Missions Leadership Team in Your Church, How to Get Your Congregation Involved in Missions, and Building Global Vision. Other resources that address mobilization principles include the Global Focus Leadership Seminar workbook: Growing a Great Commission Church, The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick Warren, Building a Contagious Church by Mark Mittleberg, A People for His Name by Paul Beals, and Six Dangerous Questions by Paul Borthwick.
GOD’S GLOBAL PURPOSE AND THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH
The Mission of God
In his book, I Met the Master … I Read the Book, V. E. Maybray said, “The greatest need of most churches is motivation and the only adequate motivations for missions is found in the Word of God” (31). This chapter reveals the result of biblical research on God’s mission and the role of His people in that mission.
God’s mission is evident in every category of Scripture. His mission is the purpose to which all of life is directed. It is His purpose, priority, and absolute objective. David Shenk writes, “The Bible is primarily a history, not a philosophy. It is an account of God’s acts in history as he works to bring about his plan for the well-being of the whole earth” (80). There are many themes to be found in the biblical account of God’s acts in history, yet they all find their place in the ultimate mission of God. The next several pages trace this mission.
The Old Testament
“In the beginning.” The first few chapters of Genesis speak on a universal level. They speak of the foundations of the world, the creation of the earth, and the beginning of humanity. The God of Genesis
is not a god of a certain race of people. He is the Creator of everything and everyone, everywhere. At the beckoning of His Word the universe came into existence, the earth took form, plants and animals took to life. In the palm of His hand and by the breath of His Spirit Adam came into being … and walked in creation with his God.
As Creator, God ruled the earth. But He delegated that responsibility to humankind. He commanded Adam to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen.1:28). God’s command was universal. He gave Adam the privilege of filling and ruling the entire earth. God’s command was also relational. In the beginning, this was life as it was meant to be: the creation walking with the Creator, multiplying alongside the Multiplier, ruling in right relationship with the Ruler, over all the earth.
Adam and Eve, however, chose to pursue their own mission (to be like God -3:4). They disobeyed and then hid from God. By pursuing a mission of their own, Adam and Eve died (see Gen. 2:17). “…[S]in entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men…” (Rom. 5:12). All of humanity died when it pursued a self-imposed mission, contrary to the purpose of God. When Adam and Even hid from God, He went after them (see Gen. 3:8ff.). Adam’s sin triggered the beginning of God’s revealed mission, for “At this point God reveals himself to be the missionary God” (Hedlund 24). Genesis 3:15 records God’s promise that the woman’s seed would crush the serpent’s head. And so it is revealed that God is on a mission to save humanity from its sin. “This is the gospel in the Garden” (Hedlund 25).
The fact that God promised the seed of the woman to crush the serpent’s head reveals a crucial element of God’s mission. The woman, herself a sinner (Rom. 5:12), bears and delivers the Agent of salvation. Just as God delegated responsibility to Adam, in the filling and ruling of the earth, so God delegates responsibility to His people in the accomplishment of His mission.
Genesis 6 records people choosing again to pursue their own mission. Man was engaging in immoral and wicked actions, to the extent that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time (6:1,5). But God remained true to the mission He had begun: to redeem fallen man from the clutches of Satan, and to use His people in the process. He singled out one with whom He had walked (6:9), Noah, sparing him and his family of the fatal flood. God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth, ” (9:1). He then proceeded to say, “And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man” (9:5).
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now will establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you”. [N]ever again will there be a flood to destroy the earth (9:9,11). This covenant is important because it is a universal covenant; it is “God’s contract with humanity” (Hedlund 25). God made a covenant with Noah’s family and all his descendants. Genesis 10 (The Table of Nations) records the families that resulted from Noah’s three sons. God had his eye on every family,
language, and people group (10:5,20,31) (Hedlund 25).
In chapter eleven God’s judgment scattered these nations over the earth. The story of the Tower of Babel reveals humanity seeking a name for itself apart from God. Hedlund observes, “Genesis 11 illustrates the failure of man’s best efforts without God” (30).
The first eleven chapters of Genesis have great bearing on the rest of Scripture. They provide the foundational truth that God created all the peoples of the earth. He gave responsibility to humanity, made promises to humanity, and delivered judgments to humanity.
Genesis 12 records a landmark initiative of God toward the accomplishment of His mission. The God of all the scattered people seems to narrow his interests to the private history of one man, Abraham, and
his family. And yet this seemingly narrow focus brings about the fulfillment of His broad promise in Genesis 3. The promised Seed that would crush the serpent’s head would come through Abraham’s offspring. “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (12:3). Walter Kaiser, Jr. sees this verse as the summary of “God’s great promise-plan.” “That theme,” he writes, “is the organizing plan of the Bible. That phrase epitomizes, the whole plan of God: He would form a nation and out of that nation, he would bring the one by whom salvation would come to all nations. This would be a great blessing to all mankind. The central theme of the Bible, is right here” (18). The crucial element of God’s mission evident in Genesis 3:15 is evident again here. Abraham and his descendents, themselves
sinners, would bear and deliver the Agent of God’s mission. In choosing Abraham’s line, God kept his eye on the rest of humanity over all the earth. Israel, (the people of Abraham), became the minority, called to serve the majority (Verkuyl 49).
God gave the Israelites the privilege of walking with Him again. He promised repeatedly to bless them, and all other nations through them. Ron Blue writes, “God blesses so that His blessings may overflow to those who are outside the huddle” (24). Other nations would receive blessing by responding to the living God of the Jews, who through their service, obedience, and worship, bore witness to Him. “You shall be my possession among all peoples; for also the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod. 19:5-6). “‘You are my witnesses,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 43:10; 44:8; 49:3,6).
The pattern of history, however, did not change. God is on a global mission and He has called His people to join Him in this mission. But humanity consistently misinterprets or rejects His mission. Adam and Eve sought to be equal with Him rather than walk in obedience to Him. The sons of God and the daughters of men in Genesis 6 chose relations with each other over their relationship with God. The descendants of Noah sought a name for themselves, apart from God. And now, the Jews, chosen to reveal God to the rest of the world, repeatedly struggled with this role, oftentimes resembling the character of the nations rather than the character of God. Hedlund writes, “Israel’s role was to be a light to the nations. But when she disobeyed God and compromised her faith, her light grew dim as she wandered in the pagan darkness” (69). The nations, to whom Israel was supposed to be a witness, became the means of her correction.
The Old Testament from Genesis 12 onward traces the history of Israel, in view of the nations. God’s continues on His mission, working through the people of Israel for the sake of all the peoples of the earth.
Scripture uses the word “nations,” or “peoples” (goyim in Hebrew, ethne in Greek) to describe the groups of people who were not Jews. The same word is translated, “Gentiles.” It is from this word that we get our English word “ethnic”. Gentile refers to a group of people that are distinct either by government, language, culture, social class, or religion. The word developed an extremely negative connotation over time because many Jews came to see themselves as a superior race of people –
the chosen people of God. But God called Israel to set themselves apart from the Gentiles, to be holy, consecrated to Him, in view of the nations – that they might recognize the God of Israel, turn back to Him and walk with Him. This global theme of God’s mission to the ethnic groups of the world pervades Scripture through the use of the word “Gentile,” “nations,” or “peoples.”
Thus far, the research has only looked at evidence of God’s purpose within the first several chapters of Genesis, yet already there exists a remarkable pattern in which God initiates mission activity to redeem the nations through His people. The call of Abraham is repeated a number of times in Genesis. In 12:3 God specifically promises Abraham, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Interestingly, Abraham was named the “father of nations.” Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, would be a missionary father to the other nations (the Gentiles). This promise is repeated in 18:17-19 and 22:16-18. God shared the same promise with Isaac in 26:2-5, and to Jacob in 28:13-15. God’s mission continues, through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph for the sake of the nations.
In Exodus Moses modeled God’s mission. He led the Jews and He witnessed to Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt. The deliverance of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt was a demonstration to the nations (Hedlund 44). This act reveals again the mission of God to use His people to bear and deliver the Agent of salvation. In Leviticus (19:18,24) and Deuteronomy (10:14-19) the Lord makes His concern for all peoples evident by commanding the Jews to treat the aliens living among them with equity.
God continued to make His mission clear to particular Jewish individuals. Although the nation of Israel struggled to grasp their role as God’s chosen people, the Spirit of the Lord carried the prophets. Elijah and Elisha stood before rebellious and pagan kings, exhorting them to worship the one true God and handing down God’s judgment on those who chose to rebel. The latter prophets cried out to the Israelites, to be God’s witnesses in the world. Isaiah foresaw the whole earth full of God’s glory (6:3) and, along with Habakkuk, predicted a day in which “the earth [will be] full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is. 11:9; Hab. 2:14). It is in Isaiah’s book that we find one from Israel being called “a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles” (42:6; 60:3). We also read of the “Suffering Servant” who will exalt the one true God among all the nations of the earth. God’s universal agenda rings out in Isaiah 52:10: “The Lord will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (see also 45:22-23). The prophet Micah echoes the same message when he declares, “His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And He will be their peace” (5:4-5). In the previous chapter, Micah paints an elaborate picture of the last days in which peoples and nations will stream to the mountain of the Lord (4:1-4) (Borthwick 26).
The prophet Jeremiah, recognizing one of his roles as “prophet to the nations” (1:5) understood the peoples “will come from the ends of the earth” and will be taught to know the name of the Lord (17:19-21). Ezekiel speaks of God bringing back the captives, in order that His glory might be known among the nations (36:22-23; 39:23, 39:7). Amos undeniably credits God with control over all nations, and His choice of Israel as a vessel to carry out His mission to the nations (9:7-8, 11-12). These passages and others leave little question that the God of the prophets of Israel is on a mission to the nations, and He desires to accomplish that mission through His people.
The writers of the Psalms share the views of the prophets concerning the global scope of God’s mission. In no less prophetic ways, the Psalms reflect, predict, and acknowledge the responsibility of all the earth to praise and worship the name of the Lord. Hedlund credits G.W. Peters in A Biblical Theology of Missions for recognizing more than 175 references concerning hope of salvation for the nations of the earth. Several Psalms are saturated with this global theme (see Ps. 2, 33, 66-68, 72, 87, 96, 98, 117, and 145). The declaration of God’s name throughout the earth is ultimately summed up in Psalm 2:8, which is a prophecy of God’s work through Jesus Christ: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your
inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”
Paul Borthwick points out that it is not only through the Scriptures themselves that God’s agenda is demonstrated. The life stories of Esther, Joseph, Daniel, and Jonah all reflect God’s business of reaching out to the peoples of the world (Borthwick 37).
In all three sections of the Hebrew Bible (Law, Prophets, and Writings), God’s mission progresses through His people. And yet it isn’t until the New Testament that we find the Agent of God’s Promise. The participatory efforts of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2,3), the sons of God and the daughters of men (Gen. 6), the descendants of Noah (Gen. 10,11), and even of the nation of Israel, were unable to accomplish God’s mission. God’s mission is only achievable through the participation of God Himself, come as a
man. It is only through Jesus Christ that all the peoples of earth can find hope.
The New Testament
God’s Mission in Jesus
The New Testament continues to track God’s mission to the nations, and His purpose for His people. In Jesus, God makes the most radical and definitive choice, in the effort to accomplish His mission. It is only through this initiative of God, the sacrifice of His Son – that He could achieve the purpose for which everything was begun. God has not given up on His Creation, but has remained steadfastly committed to His mission: to bring people from all the nations of the world back into right relationship with Him. In the person of Jesus, God makes the fulfillment of this mission possible.
Jesus clearly fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament that spoke of the Seed by which God would bless all nations. Jesus came to earth in order to make possible the re-creation of humankind. The universal scope of His initiative is undeniable. Jesus was the Suffering Servant spoken of in Isaiah. He was the Son of Man spoken of in Ezekiel and Daniel. “And [the Son of Man] was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the people, nations, and men of every language might serve him” (Dan. 7:13-14). Jesus applied this title to Himself over forty times. Jesus identified Himself with the whole human race, with all the families of mankind. Goerner argues that the fact that one of the wilderness temptations involved “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matt. 4:8) demonstrates that Jesus longed for universal reconciliation. The temptation was to use Satan’s easy methods that produced temporary results instead of following The Father’s way of suffering and redemption, thereby bringing eternal results (76).
The Strategy of Jesus
Jesus’ strategy involved prioritizing the Jewish nation. Once again, God gave people the opportunity to participate with Him in the fulfillment of His purpose. Jesus ministered to the Jews, as their long expected Messiah, so they would have another chance to receive Him and proclaim His salvation to others before they were “broken off” (see Rom. 11:20). Yet, even while ministering to the Jews, Jesus’ universal initiative was evident. In his first sermon at Nazareth (Luke 4) Jesus was not surprised that his own people did not receive his message. In his response he shared a story about Elijah that emphasized doing miracles for the Gentiles. And then he added another similar story about Elisha
to drive home his point that the Gentiles often display a greater faith than the “children of God”.
Jesus chose twelve disciples to follow Him and participate in His calling. These twelve seem to represented His initiative to the twelve tribes of Israel. He also chose seventy whom he sent out two by two (Luke 10:1), possibly symbolizing the whole human race, just as the seventy descendants of Noah made up the population in Genesis 10. Goerner believes “the twelve were sent to warn the tribes of Israel of impending judgment. The seventy were sent later on a training mission in preparation for their ultimate mission to the whole world” (78).
Jesus also had personal contact with a number of Gentiles. He healed a Gadarene demoniac (Matt. 8:28-34). After healing ten lepers, he singled out the Samaritan for being the only one who returned to thank him (Luke 17:12-19). He assured the Samaritan woman at the well that a time was coming when the worship of God would not be limited to location, but would be all over the world” (John 4:5-42). Jesus commended the faith of a Centurian (probably Roman) over that of a Hebrew (Matt. 8:10). And
when Jesus saw the spiritual hunger of the Greeks (cf. John 12:20), he could not help but proclaim: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32).
In the final days of Jesus’ ministry, He made it clear that He came to initiate more than a political kingdom. By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey he fulfilled Zechariah’s prediction of a king who would speak peace to the nations, and whose dominion would be from sea to sea (9:9-10). In the court of the Gentiles he drove out the buyers and sellers while quoting from Isaiah 56:7, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). And he finally came to the point of open judgment of the chief priests and Pharisees for their failure to participate in God’s mission: “Therefore, I say unto you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a nation producing the fruit of it” (Matt. 21:43).
This judgment of Christ summarizes the response of God throughout history to those who failed to partner with Him on His mission. God initiated blessing and delegated the responsibility of carrying that blessing to others. When His people sought their own mission instead of His, they were judged and God initiated again, through others. Adam and Eve sought their own mission and were cast from the Garden, the relationship between God and man severed. The sons of God and the daughters of men chose wickedness and were swallowed in the flood. The descendants of Noah chose to settle and make a name for themselves, but God scattered them in judgment and initiated through Abraham. The nation
of Israel repeatedly failed to be a witness for God to the nations so God cut them off and grafted in the Gentiles. All throughout history God remains faithful to His mission. He consistently delegates
responsibility to His creation, to those who are found to be faithful (Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, the prophets, the twelve, the seventy).
Jesus most clearly expressed the will of the Father just before He was crucified and just after He rose from the dead. When asked about the end, Jesus replied, “Don’t be misled. It will not be as soon as some think. For this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all nations, and after that the end shall come” (Goerner’s paraphrase of Matt. 24:4-14) (82).
The forty days that Jesus appeared after the resurrection were “packed with exciting activity” (Goerner 83). The risen Lord repeatedly appeared to His followers in to delegate His initiative – that they may
participate in His mission as His witnesses to the world. The ultimate fulfillment of God’s mission became the joint responsibility of Jesus Christ and His church. God initiated through the person and saving work of His Son. He then delegated to His followers the continuation of “all that [Jesus had begun] to do and to teach (Acts 1:1). After forty days of opening their eyes and letting the truth of God’s purpose sink in, the disciples were convinced of God mission (Goerner 84). His mission became theirs. They realized they were the bearers and deliverers of the good news of Jesus Christ.
God’s mission for the Church is unmistakable. Goerner writes, “The disciples got the message, so much so that each Gospel writer made it the climax of his story” (97). Each writer builds up to an encapsulating statement – each one complementing and supporting one another (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:45-48). And together they are complete when combined with Luke’s second account in the first chapter of Acts. The entire book of Acts records the effective participation of the disciples in the mission of God. They embraced it so clearly that Christ’s words seemingly form the outline of Luke’s record of their activity: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of
the earth” (Acts 1:8). “The story unfolds just as Jesus said it would”(Goerner 101).
There may be no other time in history in which humankind participated as passionately and effectively as did the Apostles. The term “Apostle” (meaning “one sent forth,” and from which we get missionary) largely replaced the term “disciple.” These followers were on a mission from God! Luke records each instance in which a new racial group is reached by the gospel – from the Jews, to the Samaritans, to an Ethiopian, and significantly to a Roman (Goerner 107). The conversion of the Philippian jailer marks a new epoch because there is no evidence that he was a “God-fearer.” And so the gospel moved rapidly “down the social class” (proselytes … God-fearers … heathen) (Goerner 116).
Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a Jew who grasped the mission of the Church better than any other man in history. Because of Christ’s gracious intervention in his life, Paul was given the privilege of pioneering the spread of Christ’s blessing to the other nations. Each of Paul’s thirteen New Testament letters directly relate to his participation in God’s mission. This mission was to make known the “mystery”. It was the secret of God’s promise, known by Him from the beginning, yet misunderstood by men throughout the ages. Now fully revealed in Christ, Paul explored the mystery in four of his letters, exposing the truth that was always present in the Old Testament (Goerner 133). He wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:
In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (3:4-6).
Earlier in the chapter Paul says that this was “according to his eternal purpose…” (3:11). The message of salvation in Christ to all peoples on earth has been God’s purpose from the beginning.
And it will be His purpose in the end. The apostle John realized this from the Revelation he received from Jesus Christ. John’s vision of the redeemed, just before the breaking of the seventh seal, declares God’s mission fulfilled:
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb'” (Rev. 7:9-10).
God’s purpose, through the work of Christ and the participation of those who believe, will accomplish for eternity the perfect state of the Garden of Eden, in which the created walks in the light of the Creator:
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its
lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:22-27).
FMC RESEARCH ASSESSMENT
The biblical research revealed a worldwide scope to God’s mission of redemption. It also revealed God’s desire for the local church to participate in this mission to its global extent. The mission of the church is the mission of the people within the church.
At this point in the research, the student asked the question, “What is the perception of ministry leaders at Fellowship Missionary Church concerning their role in world evangelism?” The student defined as “ministry leaders,” the full-time staff overseeing the twelve ministry departments of the church, and the seventy adult small group leaders under the guidance of the discipleship ministry. The student defined “world evangelism” as efforts (time, energy, and/or resources) devoted to the ultimate goal of making disciples of all ethno-linguistic people groups of the world.
Ministry Leader Survey
Toward this end, the student developed two separate surveys. The Ministry Leader Survey was given to the full-time church staff considered by the church to be leaders of particular ministries or departments. These ministries include: Preaching/teaching, Worship, The New Community (Gen X ministry), Discipleship/small group ministries, High School, Middle School, Children, International Outreach, Community Extension (urban ministry), Care Ministries, Video Production, and Administration.
The student began by making a list of sixty ways to pursue world evangelism from personal experience, church exposure, evangelistic training, missions conferences, and literature study. This list included
multiple functions in the areas of prayer, program events, educational curriculum, training events, outreach, intentional relational efforts, small group activities, service projects, trips, conferences, and
resourcing. The student identified three components to world evangelism and organized the list according to these categories: reaching local similar people (people similar to those doing the ministering), reaching dissimilar local people (people of different age, socio-economic status, or cultural status), and reaching ethnically different people (both nearby and far way). This list was sent by email to ACMC regional director, David Mays, who contributed another ten ways to pursue world
evangelism and provided feedback on the division of people categories. He suggested dividing world evangelism into the following components: local people that are like us, local people of different ethnicity, and people far away of different ethnicity. These divisions symbolize the world evangelism efforts of the apostles, recorded in Acts 1:8 and following (and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth).
This approach reveals three stages of evangelistic barriers that are addressed by Ralph Winter, president and founder of U.S. Center for World Mission, in his article, “The New Macedonia.” The first barrier is the relational barrier: reaching out to nonChristians. The second barrier is an ethnic barrier: reaching out to nonChristians of a different culture, racial, and/or language background. The third barrier is a geographical barrier: reaching out to nonChristians of a different ethnic background, located in a different country. (See Appendix A for World Evangelism Pool)
At this point, the student planned to design a survey that would ask ministry leaders to respond to the list seventy methods of world evangelism. The responses of ministry leaders concerning their involvement in these activities would be tabulated in order to discover their efforts and expectations concerning evangelizing each category of people. To ensure survey validity the student met with Dr. Timothy Warner, a man with extensive experience in church, missions, and academic leadership. He is a former missionary, the former President of Fort Wayne Bible College, a visiting Professor to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and current Vice-President of Freedom in Christ Ministries. Dr. Warner advised designing a survey that would ask fewer questions and leave room for ministry leaders to give examples of their efforts. A smaller survey would increase the odds of leaders filling it out. Allowing them to respond to a few general questions instead of asking them to identify activities from a list developed by the student would help eliminate unintended bias from the student. By including an
open-ended question for ministry examples, the student could get a better feel for actual efforts of the leaders and their interpretation of the question.
After several drafts, the student submitted a survey by email to Dr. Dave Rahn, Huntington College research Professor and President of Link Institute, and the current students in his Ministry Assessment class. Their feedback contributed to a simple survey asking nine questions to assess the perception of world evangelism efforts in 2001 and the perceived responsibility for addressing each component of world evangelism within one’s area of ministry (see Appendix B for the Fellowship Missionary Church Ministry Leader Survey).
The student assumed that by using the phase “reaching lost people,” ministry leaders would understand the implied concept of evangelism: bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to those who do not currently have a relationship with Him. This assumption was made based on the well-known mission statement of the church: “Fellowship Missionary Church exists to reach lost people and develop them into fully devoted followers of Christ.”
The student asked permission to pass out the survey from the Executive Pastor, Wayne Feay. After his approval, the student sent a brief email to the ministry leaders, asking for their participation in the survey. He then took the surveys to Fellowship Missionary Church and gave them to each ministry leader. Those who were present filled them out handed them back. Those who were not, sent them by mail in an addressed and stamped letter, provided by the student.
Small Group Leader Survey
The second survey was designed to assess the world evangelism efforts of FMC small groups. The student defined small groups as those recognized and overseen by the FMC Discipleship Ministry. Survey questions addressed the three components of world evangelism (similar, local ethnic groups, distant ethnic groups) as they relate to small group prayer, activities, and they study. The student wanted to find out how many groups prayed for the salvation of people from each group, if they
pursued evangelistic activities related to each component, and if they included each component in the study or content portion of their meetings.
Since this survey was given to a large number of people, the student tried to make it as easy to fill out as possible. The survey consisted of twenty-five questions: five background questions, eight prayer questions, five activity questions, five study and results questions, and two opinion questions concerning future training. Ten of the questions merely asked for a Yes or No response. Another set of ten questions asked the leader to check: Never (I cannot recall a time), Periodically (Every two or three months), Frequently (At least once a month), or Usually (Most times we meet).
The Small Group Leader Survey draft was emailed to Dr. Dave Rahn and the Ministry Assessment students for review and approval. Their response affirmed the survey’s clarity and objectivity as well as its relevance to the assessment question. (See Appendix C for the Small Group Leader Survey.)
The student obtained permission to give the surveys to small group leaders from Mark LaBonde, Pastor of Discipleship Ministries at FMC. Twenty-nine of the leaders who received the survey in their retreat
packet at the small group leaders retreat handed them back completed to the student that weekend. The student obtained a list of small group leaders from Pastor LaBonde and mailed surveys out to the forty leaders who were not at the retreat. He also sent an email to all the small group leaders on the list thanking them for their willingness to fill out the survey, and encouraging those receiving them in the mail to promptly complete it and mail it back in the addressed and stamped envelope provided. Unfortunately, the student only received eighteen of those forty back in the time needed to complete the assessment project. The student received forty-seven surveys of the total sixty-nine that were given out.
The student compiled the data of the surveys by entering the responses of each survey into two spreadsheets. The spreadsheet designed for the Ministry Leader Survey contained a row for each ministry staff and a column for each of the six close-ended questions (1a,c; 2a,c; 3a,c). The spreadsheet designed for the Small Group Leader Survey contained a row for each small group leader (numbered one through forty-seven) and a column for each of the twenty-five questions. The survey responses were then recorded in the appropriate fields. From this compilation, the student was able to draw response averages and sums from different questions. (See Appendix D for the FMC Ministry Leader Survey Table of Results, Appendix E for the totals in survey form, and Appendix F for the Small Group Leader Survey Table of Results.)
The student paid attention to the response levels of questions concerning each component of world evangelism. Comparisons were made within single surveys. A leader’s survey provided a reliable answer to the question: “How much effort do you see your ministry or group making in each component of world evangelism?” It also provided a reliable answer to the question: “How much responsibility do you feel your ministry has in each component of world evangelism?” Comparisons were also made across the span of ministries and groups. Trends were identified by similar responses given by most leaders to particular survey questions. Differences in perceived effort or responsibility
became evident by the variation of responses given to particular survey questions. Through these comparisons, the student was able to discover the general attitudes and efforts of FMC leaders concerning the three components of world evangelism.
After the student studied the spreadsheets for trends and differences, he selected particular portions of the spreadsheet from which to construct charts. The charts served to clearly illustrate the key observations made by the student through the study of the spreadsheets.
Results and Conclusions of the Ministry Leader Survey
Youth Ministry Leaders Perceptions
1. Approximately two thirds of the total evangelistic efforts perceived by FMC ministry staff came from leaders of children and young adults (children, middle and high school, and including Gen Xers).
2. 71%-90% of the total perceived efforts of FMC ministry staff working with children and young adults in 2001 were devoted to reaching lost people.
3. All the children and young adult leaders consider “reaching lost people” a major or mandatory responsibility of their area of ministry.
Conclusion #1: The children and young adult ministries value evangelism in perceived responsibility and practice.
4. Five out of six leaders of children and young adult ministries admitted devoting little effort to ethnic minorities within the USA.
5. Three of those five leaders who admitted devoting little effort to reaching ethnic minorities within the USA consider it a major or mandatory responsibility of their area of ministry.
Conclusion #2: The children and young adult ministries are not making significant effort to reach ethnic minorities within the USA. However some leaders feel significant responsibility to do so.
Ministry Staff Perceptions
6. Eleven of the total fourteen ministry leaders reported that “reaching lost people” is a major or mandatory responsibility of their area of ministry.
7. More than half of the ministry leaders (8 of 14) consider reaching lost people outside the USA either not applicable, optional, or a marginal responsibility of their ministry.
8. Over 70% (10 of 14) of the ministry leaders reported little or no effort devoted to reaching lost people outside the USA.
9. Nearly two thirds (9 of 14) (64.3%) of the ministry leaders reported little or no effort devoted to reaching lost people within the USA.
Conclusion #3: While the vast majority of ministry staff feel very strongly about the responsibility of their ministry to “reach lost people”, most of them do not feel their ministry has a significant responsibility to contribute to cross-cultural evangelism (local or international).
Conclusion #4: While the majority of ministry leaders say their ministries devoted large amounts of effort to “reaching lost people,” there is significant growth potential in the areas of local and
Results and Conclusions of the Small Group Leader Survey
1. Over half of the small group leaders surveyed claim that their group prays regularly for the salvation of unsaved family and friends. (Regularly refers to prayer offered by groups at least once per month,
signified by a frequently or usually survey response)
2. Over half of the claim that their group prays regularly for witnessing opportunities.
3. Nearly two thirds of the leaders expressed openness to tips or training that would help their group increase its effectiveness at reaching lost people.
4. Over forty percent of the leaders claim that their group has been instrumental in leading an individual to Christ.
Conclusion #1: A majority of the Fellowship small groups are concerned about evangelism and consider prayer an evangelistic tool. They pray for the salvation of those who are close to them and for opportunities to be a witness. Many have already seen positive results of those prayers and are open to learning how to be even more effective in evangelism.
5. One of every five group leaders surveyed admits their group has never prayed for a missionary outside the USA. Less than 30% claim their group prays regularly for missionaries. Only one group consisting of people 35 years of age and under reported praying regularly for missionaries. (See FMC Small Group Payer chart on previous page)
6. Less than one third of small group leaders say their group prays regularly for the spread of the gospel to unreached peoples. (See FMC Small Group Prayer chart)
7. Over half of the leaders cannot recall a time that their group prayed for the salvation of ethnic minorities within the community. Only eleven percent says their group prays regularly for local minorities. (See FMC Small Group Prayer chart)
Conclusion #2: There is significant opportunity for FMC small groups to extend their evangelistic prayer influence beyond those nearby and ethnically similar to them.
8. One of every five groups has adopted a missionary.
9. Nine out of ten groups have not had a missionary visit the group in the last six months.
Conclusion #3: Missionaries are largely absent from the FMC small group ministry (in prayer, support, and relationships).
10. A majority of the groups have not done service projects for non-Christians in the community. A little over a third have.
11. More than half of the groups invite non-Christians to social events multiple times each year.
Conclusion #4: FMC small groups are more relational oriented than task oriented when it comes to reaching out to nonbelievers.
12. Just over one third of the groups have participated together in a local cross-cultural ministry experience. Of those that did, nearly half of the experiences consisted of feeding children lunch at an inner-city church.
13. Over ten percent of the leaders claimed that at least half of their group has participated together in a cross-cultural ministry experience outside the USA.
Conclusion #5: Most small groups have yet to experience the benefits of cross-cultural ministry experiences, both locally and abroad.
14. Just over one third of the groups have participated in an evangelism-related study.
15. Less than ten percent of the groups have participated in a missions focused Bible study.
This study was subject to the limitations recognized in collecting data through a survey format and collecting data by mail. A few small group leader surveys returned with certain questions left blank. Since the survey was confidential, the student was not able to track down leaders to ask them why they left certain questions blank, or to ask them to complete them. A few questions may have been interpreted differently by different leaders. For example, one question on the Small Group Leader
Survey asked for the frequency of prayer for “the spread of the gospel to unreached peoples.” By “unreached peoples” the student meant those ethnic groups who currently do not have access to a Christian witness or the gospel in their language or region. The question was intended to address the third component of world evangelism (ethnic groups far away). However, it is possible that some leaders interpreted this question to refer to prayer for any unsaved person.
Another limitation of the Small Group Leader Survey is the lack of flexibility in response choices. Particularly limiting is the jump from “Never” to “Periodically” (Every two to three months). It is likely that many groups who participated in the relevant activity one, two, or three times in a year were forced to exaggerate their response by selecting “Periodically”. Fortunately, such an exaggeration would not have strongly affected the overall observations and conclusions.
The results of the Small Group Leader Survey may be biased to some extent due to the fact that less than 100 percent of the leaders filled out the survey (47 out of 69).
The results of the Ministry Leader Survey are limited by a few irregularities. The survey was given to the leaders of every ministry department within Fellowship Missionary Church. Each ministry, except
for the lay-led International Outreach Ministry, is overseen and directed by at least one full-time staff member of the church. Therefore, the responses of the International Outreach leader for the questions concerning effort (1a, 2a, 3a) do not necessarily hold the same value as those of the full-time staff members. For example, the International Outreach leader claimed that 81-100 % of her total efforts
were devoted to “reaching lost people,” and those efforts focused extensively on reaching people outside the USA. Without knowing how much time and energy this leader devotes to this ministry position, it is not clear whether the International Ministry devotes more or less efforts to the third component of world evangelism (reaching ethnic peoples far away) than say the High School Ministry which claims that it devotes 61-80 percent of its efforts to “reaching lost people”, a significant amount focusing on people outside the USA.
Each leader was asked to fill out the survey on behalf of the particular ministry in which he or she served during the year 2001. Of the 12 departments surveyed, Community Extension is the only ministry that did not have a leader for the entire year. The responses given by this ministry leader are therefore limited to 3 months of personal leadership in 2001 and his understanding of the nature of community extension ministries prior to his leadership.
Two ministry departments had two full-time ministry leaders in 2001 – Children’s Ministries and TNC (Gen X Ministry). Surveys were given to both staff members in each ministry. Since the survey was developed to measure perceived efforts and expectations of ministry leaders the fact that two staff members reported on one ministry does not distort tables and charts that report expectations of ministry leaders. However, charts and tables that report types and amounts of efforts made by ministries are affected due to the “double-up” factor of two staff members reporting on the same ministry. The student preferred including the responses of all ministry leaders over averaging the results of two leaders within the same ministry because he was interested in individual perceptions that represented entire ministries.
Based on the results of this ministry assessment, the student concluded that Fellowship Missionary Church leaders generally view themselves and their ministries as evangelistically minded. It is clear that their missions statement: to reach lost people and develop them into fully devoted followers of Christ, is embraced and pursued by most of the ministry staff and small group leaders.
Based on the biblical and theological purpose of the church, the student sees significant growth potential concerning the mission of making disciples of all nations. The ministry assessment revealed a lack of consensus concerning the responsibility of leaders and their ministries to reach beyond their ethnicity and local community.
The student recognizes the need for a world evangelism mobilization strategy that will raise the bar of bible-based world evangelism in and through the church. A strategy is necessary to encourage the entire church leadership to broaden their ministry parameters to include ethnic minorities nearby and across the earth. Such a strategy would promote a ministry mindset that takes seriously the intended recipients of disciple making efforts: Go and make disciples of all nations.
RESEARCH OF GLOBAL MINDED CHURCHES
In 1998 Tom Telford published a book entitled, Missions in the 21st Century. The last chapter of that book contained short paragraphs describing “Churches with Top-Notch Missions Programs.” This chapter was so well-received that Telford committed the next year to “…crisscrossing the nation – talking, listening, researching, and polling church missiologists and church missions pastors to find out
which churches are the top missions churches in America”. Today’s All-Star Missions Churches, published in 2001 contains the findings of Telford’s research. In this book, Telford strives to answer three questions: What are the best missions churches in America? Why are their
missions programs so effective? How can your church learn from them?
Telford drew upon his experience as missions chairman, ACMC Regional Director and Supervisor of Regional Ministries, Perspectives lecturer, missions speaker and consultant, and vice president of mobilization for United World Mission when he drew up his nine criteria for a top-notch missions program:
1. The church must have an outward focus and strategy.
2. At least 30 percent of the church’s budget must go to missions.
3. The church must have an ongoing training program for missionary candidates.
4. Missions education must be integrated into all the programs of the church.
5. The church must send its own people.
6. The church must be concerned about and pray for the lost.
7. The church must have a pastor who leads them in vision and outreach.
8. The church must be interested in helping other churches in missions.
9. The church must have a strong evangelism program in its community. (Today’s 134; Missions 160).
This chapter highlights several churches and pastors from Telford’s research who are effectively modeling world-evangelism mobilization. Unless otherwise noted, the quotes and summaries are from Telford’s book, Today’s All-Star Churches.
Global Evangelism Mobilization Snap-Shots
Grace Chapel, Lexington, MA
Tom Borthwick, the first missions pastor and author of A Mind for Missions, How to Be a World Class Christian, and Six Dangerous Questions, was committed to missions education. He believed that an
educated church would be a mobilized church. This priority has continued under the current missions leadership of Dr. David Jebaratnam. Grace Chapel regularly hosts ACMC conferences and Perspectives courses in order to help their members as well as other churches grow in missions awareness and mobilization. Jebaratnam’s strategy has two arms: the regional planning teams seek to research and partner with ministries in the seven global regions of the world; the mobilization teams seek ways to mobilize every church member in world-evangelism efforts. Grace Chapel excels in the area of missions education for children but Jebaratnam’s vision is to mobilize every member of the church for missions. “Grace Chapel is the place to be if you want a complete missions education from the cradle on up. Every program at Grace is soaked in missions education – you can’t escape it” (135).
Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, CA
This church has evidenced a commitment to world evangelism since they sent their first missionary to China in 1903. They helped found ACMC (Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment) and hosted some of the first classes in Perspectives on World Missions. To ensure ongoing commitment to missions, the church has made it a requirement that the senior pastor be a missions mobilizer. Gordon Kirk, the senior pastor, envisions every adult and child of Lake Avenue participating in a cross-cultural
experience by 2003.
Christian Fellowship Church, Evansville, IN
Senior Pastor, David Neidnaggel sent one of his church members to an ACMC conference in 1979 when the church was only a few years old. This decision was the best decision they have made. Pastor Neidnaggel told Telford:
ACMC expanded our vision. Basically everything we have done in missions has been shaped by the instruction and help from ACMC. It is just invaluable. Without the conferences of ACMC, we wouldn’t have had anywhere near the involvement and vision we have. I try to tell people every chance I get that ACMC is an organization whose purpose is to give themselves away in service to God’s purpose on earth (138).
Pastor Neidnaggel regularly participates in ACMC conference visits missionaries all over the world.
Calvary Church, Lancaster, PA
This church grew out of a Bible and missions conference. The mission vision that emerged from the conference begged for a body of believers to pursue it. Dr. Robert Torrey, the first pastor of Calvary, said, “Missions is a matter of life and death for the local church” (139). Calvary has sent out many well-known missions “heroes”, including but not limited to Chet Bitterman, Jim Reapsome, Eileen Coon, and Linell and Martha Davis. Jim Reapsome attended the church as a college student and shared with Telford, “The lasting influence I received from Calvary Church was that world missions was the heart of the church’s reason for existence and that people cared enough for their missionaries to be informed about their needs and pray for them by name” (140).
Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN
Led by senior Pastor Leith Anderson, Wooddale strives for excellence in leadership development. According to their strategy statement, “Wooddale missions is about working together in a multitude of creative partnerships to build relationships that change lives forever. It’s using our gifts and abilities – doing what we do best” (141). The fruit of this strategy includes pastor training and church planting in
Romania, supporting a postgraduate training center in East Asia, partnering with a sister church in Guatemala, assisting struggling believers in Bulgaria and Vietnam, reaching out to thousands of Sikhs in Vancouver, pioneering the Minnesota Coalition for Eastern Europe, and expanding their outreach efforts in their own community. Leith Anderson is a “cultural specialist” who “understands the culture of the American church and is aware that excellence in leadership and quality in ministry will motivate the next generation of missionaries and their supporters” (142). Tom Correll, the missions pastor of Wooddale, is blessed to have a senior pastor who partners with him in the effort to mobilize the church in world evangelism.
Overlake Christian Church, Redmond, WA
Overlake is another church that has been effective at developing partnerships for the purposes of world evangelism. In fact, Tom Adelsman’s position is called Pastor of Strategic Partnerships. His ministry vision is “to help Overlake and other churches fulfill their biblical vision through strategic partnerships” (144). This happens when Adelsman connects churches and church members to other churches, para-church organizations, and Christian professionals with the same visions and goals. Telford believes that one of the future trends of missions is strategically partnering professionals with needs in the world that fit their experience and skills.
Rolling Hills Covenant Church, Rolling Hills Estates, CA
Telford describes Rolling Hills as “‘Exhibit A’ for local/global thinking” (Today’s 146). Missions pastor, Joe Handley, wrote in a letter, entitled “Why I’m so jazzed about being at Rolling Hills Covenant Church,” “Several of the unreached peoples of the world now live in our own backyard. Greater L.A. provides an unparalleled opportunity to begin reaching these normally inaccessible nations” (145). Yet even with so much opportunity at home, Rolling Hills still embraces the call to “GO.” Handley continues in his letter, “… It is important that we have both a global and local missions advance. We
stand at a unique time and place that has incredible global influence. We can make a difference if we continue our missions engagement both locally and globally being led by the Spirit” (146).
Calvary Church of Souderton, Souderton, PA
Telford writes, “I think Calvary Church of Souderton wrote the book on how to lead a church through change in the area of missions” (148). Senior pastor Meredith Wheeler made wise choices when he came on board in 1988. Change is difficult in midsized traditional, conservative churches, but by surrounding himself with capable leaders, prayer, and strategic planning, Wheeler began to see paradigms shift. Key change agents included Jay Desco, who teaches organizational leadership on the
graduate level, Outreach Pastor, Matt Reed, who has gifts in helping people through change. The International Missions Board at Calvary is divided into three teams: Communications and Education Team, Organizational Support Team, and Strategic Planning Team. Telford shares that “a commitment to excellence in all these areas is moving Calvary Church into the twenty-first century with a model of missions leadership that I think many missions committees will want to emulate.” “Missions is not a program of the church, it is the culture of the church; missions is not doing tasks, it’s developing people” (148).
Global Evangelism Mobilization Panoramas
Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN
Bethlehem is filled with Christians who have a passion for world evangelism. Telford describes the church as having a missions “ethos”. “Most people in the pew understand what missions means and where it fits into the life and breath of the church.” “It is at the heart and soul of the church. It’s all about the supremacy of God in missions” (16). Senior pastor, John Piper, writes in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, “Missions is not God’s ultimate goal, worship is.” “All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and his Son among all the peoples of the earth” (15). But “missions exists because worship doesn’t. When the kingdom finally comes in glory, missions will
cease. Missions is penultimate; worship is ultimate. If we forget this and reverse the roles, the passion and the power for both diminish” (quoted by Telford from Driving Convictions behind World Missions at Bethlehem by John Piper and John Steller).
There are a few important reasons that Bethlehem Baptist has become so globalminded as a church. The most significant among them is the biblical conviction of the senior pastor concerning “the supremacy of God in missions” (18). In November of 1983, John Piper was asked to speak at the annual church missions conference because the previously lined up speaker was unable to make it. As Piper prepared the messages, “he realized that missions is central to the work of the church and got excited about what God wanted to do. During the missions conference, his church caught the excitement” (18). Not surprised, Telford writes, “This confirms my conviction that if a pastor gets mobilized for missions,
then the people will be as well” (19).
Another factor contributing to Bethlehem’s global ethos is the well-known missions course entitled, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. This course presents the biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic perspectives of world evangelism. Perspectives impacts churches all over the country. Telford declares, “I can honestly say that in almost every church I visit, if the Perspectives course has been taught, or the missions staff has attended one, then they are moving and growing in missions” (19). Bethlehem sent twenty-five people to their first Perspectives course, and they returned, “informed and transformed.” “The outcome of the experience,” claims Telford, “…was a bunch of mobilized members who wanted to make a difference in missions at Bethlehem” (19). One difference they made was deciding to host a Perspectives course at Bethlehem every other year since. Tom Stellar
agrees that the Perspectives course is largely responsible for the global ethos of their church.
The third missions contributor is ACMC, and agency that exists exclusively to advance churches in missions commitment. And they have done just that for Bethlehem. The church regularly sends people to ACMC conferences “where they are updated on the latest strategies and initiatives in global missions, hearing creative ideas and finding out what other churches are doing” (20).
Telford’s chapter focusing on Bethlehem is titled Biblical Foundations for Missions because this church serves as model for other churches when it comes to forming a solid biblical worldview from which to minister. “If churches in America were to get a grip on this kind of thinking concerning Bible-based missions, we would be overwhelmed and amazed at what God would do” (24). This worldview is expressed in Bethlehem’s church publication, Driving Convictions behind World Missions at Bethlehem. The fourteen driving convictions “are a powerful summary of the biblical mandate for world missions, the best biblical foundation for a missions vision that I have seen anywhere” (Telford 20).
Xenos Christian Fellowship, Columbus OH
Xenos began as a cell-church in the 60’s on the campus of Ohio State University. Today there are over 450 different home and cell groups under the direction of the church. Xenos has displayed remarkable
success at weaving an emphasis in world evangelism throughout the small group ministry and the entire church. Their web site (xenos.org) clearly explains their strategy. The stated purpose of The Missions Division is “to glorify God by mobilizing the resources entrusted to Xenos Christian Fellowship for the fulfillment of Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations.” Their mission is four-fold: 1) Motivating servants to become more aware and involved, 2) Advancing effective missions in North America, 3) Sending and caring for ministry teams overseas, and 4) Raising up indigenous leaders and breaking the cycle of poverty in South Linden. Each of these pursuits are well organized and clearly communicated so that participation at Xenos naturally promotes participation in world-evangelism. Tom Telford cites the three most influential decisions that affected Xenos’ ability to mobilize their members in world evangelism. In 1982 Ralph Winter, founder of U.S. Center for World Mission, was invited to lead a Perspectives course. “…[T]he resulting excitement and interest
in missions changed the church forever” (100). Ten years later, the church decided to form a strategic partnership with a missions agency. This key partnership has enables them to better equip missionary teams through training, planning, support raising, and the development of a home support team. The third influential decision occurred just a few years ago, when Xenos sent a group to an ACMC conference with the hopes to narrow their missions focus. After the conference, the church sought
personal consultation work from an ACMC staff member. The thoughtful strategies of the Mobilization Department are some of the results of those consultations.
Among the strategies Xenos has employed are mobilizing through education and mobilizing through small groups. The Missions Mobilizers Program, according to the Xenos web page, “is a ministry to encourage those who seek to increase missions awareness and involvement, both in their own
life and in their church.” Individuals sign up to be “missions mobilizers.” They choose two awareness and two involvement activities from a pool of resources and opportunities provided by the church. The
web page alone contains a quarterly newsletter devoted to missions, resource links for more missions information on the Internet, missions and missionary articles and book reviews, and a Xenos missions calendar. The missions mobilizers are then equipped, trained, and challenged to share their education and involvement with others. Their job, according to Francie Maxwell author of the Xenos web article, You’re a Missions Mobilizer…Now What?, is “to excite and equip the Body of Christ to provide the resources for reaching the world.”
Every Xenos cell group has a missions representative who links the group to world evangelism. These reps are trained and equipped by ministry leaders to find ways to creatively weave world evangelism into the personality and distinctives of their particular group. Their responsibilities include communicating missions material to their home groups, helping the group develop relationships with missionaries, and promoting opportunities to visit, support, and serve missionaries in the field. For many groups, these efforts have resulted in a strong relationship between the group members and the missionary for which they pray and support.
“The people of Xenos,” Telford writes, “never sit back and let the status quo kick in. The ethos is always to keep thinking and working to do better” (108). This commitment to out-of-the-box thinking combined with a commitment to small groups has led to a healthy environment to produce global minded disciples. “This is a church with models that can be followed” (108).
University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, WA
A stream of influential leaders have moved through the last quarter of this near century old church, creating a wave of missions momentum. In 1977, church leaders challenged their first missions pastor, Tim Dearborn, to “move missions from the periphery to the heart of UPC, from being the concern of a highly committed few to the vision of everyone” (110). Several years later, the new Senior Pastor, Bruce Larson, contributed to this move with his question to the church, “What would it look like if one church was totally mobilized for world missions?” (111). In 1985, under the new missions leadership of Art Beals, UPC’s distinctive strengths in global mobilization began to truly take shape.
The defining moment in Art Beals’ life was also the defining moment of the church. In the middle of preaching his visions and dreams for the congregation Beals was struck with the arrogance and inadequacy of “top-down” leadership. He felt as if the Holy Spirit was saying, “Don’t you realize that they’ve got far more vision and more dreams than you will ever have? Why don’t you quit putting your visions forth and find ways to help the laypeople dream their dreams and put their visions forth?” (112). According to Beals, “that [revelation] was the single most pivotal point in ministry for me” (112).
University Presbyterian Church is committed to “bottom-up” mobilization. The missions leadership, now led by Ken Kierstead, refuses to start any ministries; instead they focus on empowering, mentoring, and ministering to lay people who have their own missions visions and dreams. Ministry
task forces develop when individuals within the body gather people around them who share the burden God has placed on their heart. These task forces report to the missions department and are accountable for what they are doing. “Task forces live and die, some finish their task, and new ones are born. This is exactly what UPC expects” (113).
Bottom-up mobilization does not lessen the responsibility of the church leadership. If anything, it greatly increases is. Telford reflects, “As I look at this model, I realize the tremendous effort needed to
encourage, train, and facilitate ministry teams that are regularly coming to and going from the church.” “The missions pastor’s most important job is to mobilize the laity and put missions into their hands
and hearts.” “It is his job to “give missions away” (114).
Although University Presbyterian Church is not a cell-based church, as is Xenos, it too places a high value on smaller biblical communities of believers. Nearly every church member is involved in some type of small group. Many of these small groups become missions or ministry task forces. “Bottom-up, relational, and generous small groups and task forces are what make the missions expansion at UPC a reality” (116). And “missions expansions” is correct! Bottom-up mobilization and small group task forces have resulted in the development of a number of effective programs.
The goal of the Intentional Communities program is to learn about life in community and in the city. “Through shared experienced in the city context, participants learn how to balance their faith with serving the poor and pursuing Christian community” (117). TWAD (Travel with a Difference) helps travelers connect to UPC-related ministries that are thriving around the world. This program capitalizes on the interest people have for traveling for purposes of prayer and missions mobilization. Through Journey, members participate in two-week cross-cultural service trips. The leadership envisions the day when every UPC member has the opportunity to experience the spiritual growth
available through overseas trips (117). The Barnabas Ministry is a program that is devoted to mobilizing the laity for missionary care. Missionaries recruit close friends in the congregation as an advocate
and representative. Church staff provides training so that these Barnabas ministers may focus on three aspects of the missionary’s life: preparing to leave, serving cross-culturally, and reentry back home
(118). Global task forces and global prayer groups form with a common burden for a particular area of the world. They pray and serve and mobilize others in the congregation to do the same (119). UPC has also partnered with ethnic minorities within their own city, in the effort to plant and support several local churches. “UPC is a huge church, but there are principles here that can work for any size church” (120).
Reoccurring Themes in Global Minded Churches
The student identified twenty themes from the study of global-minded churches. Although each church approaches world evangelism in different and unique ways, there are common underlying principles that guide many decisions they make. Some churches put more value on certain principles than others. Some churches find success in appropriating valuable principles through the span of their ministries, while others have only found success within a few of their ministry departments.
A church that seeks to obey the Great Commission by maximizing their potential to “make disciples of all nations,” would do well to incorporate the following principles:
1. The Great Commission is the mandate for the local church.
2. The Great Commission is the mandate for all those who claim to be disciples of Jesus.
3. “The nations,” (meaning all the people groups of the world) are recognized as the intended recipients of disciple-making efforts.
4. Reaching the world for Christ is worship in action and truth. It honors and seeks God’s sovereign purpose – to receive glory in all the earth.
5. The church is capable of reaching those outside its cultural and geographical boundaries.
6. The principle of mobilization is embraced. The church recognizes the importance of:
a. building global vision into the hearts and minds of its people.
b. educating, equipping, and releasing its people make disciples of all nations.
c. resourcing and empowering its people to take steps toward fulfilling the Great Commission.
7. World evangelism mobilization is applied throughout the ministries of the church. Rather than leaving all the work up to a certain individual, team, or department, the church expects all ministries to participate in mobilizing disciples to reach the world for Christ.
8. The senior pastor is mobilized. He grasps the universal scope of God’s purposes and seeks to lead his congregation toward the fulfillment of world evangelization.
9. The pastor and staff recognize that people will grow in their faith as they are challenged to share whatever amount they have with others.
10. Maintaining an others-centered focus is not easy or natural. Therefore, it must be communicated, encouraged, and enforced by a strong leader, such as the senior pastor and/or a staff member with the senior pastor’s full support.
11. World evangelism mobilization efforts warrant the same level of quality as do other efforts deemed important by the church leadership.
12. Missions trips are a catalyst for and a result of mobilization. People who go on cross-cultural ministry trips become mobilized. Mobilized people go on crosscultural ministry trips.
13. Partnerships are crucial to healthy missions involvement and expansion.
a. Missions agencies and para-church organizations can assist churches in accomplishing cross-cultural passions, goals, and pursuits.
b. Churches reaching cross-culturally should work with national Christians and local churches, if present, thereby increasing their effectiveness and promoting indigenous Christian growth.
14. Missions is more than “going.” Making disciples of all nations involves:
a. A host of prayer topics, including but not limited to:
i. current missionaries, future missionaries (pray that God would raise up workers)
ii. people with little or no access to the gospel, underprivileged and oppressed groups of people who are ripe for the truth
iii. local outreaches and missions trips
iv. the growth and blessing of young Christians and persecuted Christians
b. A host of educational topics, including but not limited to:
i. a biblical worldview
ii. the spiritual status of the nations
iii. strategies, methods, and trends in cross-cultural ministry
iv. the importance of maximizing personal involvement in world evangelism through good stewardship of time, talents, and resources
v. the principles of relational evangelism
c. A host of “at home” activities that contribute to world evangelism, including but not limited to:
i. preparing long or short term missionary candidates through skill training
ii. creating, gathering, and using tools to build global vision in the church (e.g. dramas, videos, music, curriculum, and decorations)
iii. researching and assessing the extent ethnic minorities in the community are receiving a Christian witness.
iv. sending gifts, resources, and money to those serving away from home
v. sending resources and money to organizations who are helping local churches in world evangelism
15. World evangelism includes going. Churches recognize the value of sending some of their best, people into other field where others will benefit from their leadership, skills, and service.
16. The Mission of the church involves the intentional delivery of the gospel to those who have not yet received it. It is more (but not less) than meeting people’s earthly, physical needs.
17. The principle, “it is better to give than to receive” is applied to church finances.
Churches make it a priority to continually increase their giving to world evangelism.
18. Innovative thinking related to the uniqueness of one’s church leads to customized efforts in world evangelism that attract interest and involvement of church members
19. Churches can help each other. Pastors, leaders, and members participate in conferences and world evangelism courses where they learn about what God is doing throughout the world, through the local church. They are challenged to increase their involvement, sharpen their skills, and share their experiences and insights with others.
20. Obedience to the Great Commission involves risk and sacrifice. Churches realize that God will do more through their honest mistakes than their disobedience; more through their fumbled efforts than their lack of efforts; more through their awkward attempts to influence their global neighbors than through their grand programs within their comfort zone.
BUILDING GLOBAL CHRISTIANS
A Global Evangelism Mobilization Strategy (GEMS) for the Local Church
The church that determines to build global Christians undertakes a noble pursuit. It is a pursuit that arises from a biblical understanding of the true disciple and the obedient church. By mobilizing believers to become world Christians, the church takes its place in the international war-zone where the god of this world finds himself desperately clinging to his last remaining strongholds while the people of God gain ground toward the fulfillment of God’s glory in all the earth.
The following strategy presents a proposal for mobilizing the church in world evangelism. “The mobilization process” as defined by Dr. Larry Reeson, founder and president of Global Focus,
is […] the process of teaching believers in a local church to understand God’s global plan, motivating them to a loving response to God’s word, and providing opportunities for them to use their gifts,
abilities and resources individually and corporately to accomplish His global plan.
According to this definition, there are three essential components to the mobilization process: education (discovering the truth of God’s world-wide purpose), influence (making God’s purpose our mission), and involvement (taking action to accomplish our mission / his purpose). Through intentional steps in education, influence, and involvement, the local church will lead its people on a mission of greater significance than any other mission in life!
The goal is simple: move from Point A to Point B and do whatever it takes to get there. Point A is the local church and the people of the world today, as we know them. Point B is the local church and the world in the future, as God would have them. Point A, the present; Point B, Revelation 7:9-10.
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
How do we move from point A to point B? There are no easy answers, but the attempt to answer the question is half the battle. First let’s look at some wrong answers.
We don’t move from Point A to point B:
Haphazardly. The global enterprise of making disciples of all nations calls for careful and strategic planning. Carelessness and thoughtlessness will not bring about the results the Savior deserves and expects. Instead, beginning with where we are (Point A), the church must identify its strengths and weaknesses and develop a strategy to build off its strong points and develop its weak points in order to progress toward Point B. A formalized plan will include ministry pictures, statements, and goals including many of the following: purpose, vision, mission, values, goals, objectives, and methods. The following strategy will provide the framework necessary to begin constructing this formalized plan.
Alone. There is far too much work to be done and an overabundance of resources available for one person, one team, one church, one denomination, and one country to handle on their own. Moving from Point A to Point B involves one person linking arms with another; one team linking arms with another; one church with another; one denomination with another; one country with another…and in this fashion, disciples are made over all the earth. This idea of linking arms includes the concepts of partnerships, integration, and mobilization. Each of these concepts will be discussed further in the strategy to follow.
Half-heartedly. If the Great Commission is truly the call of the church, for the glorification of God in all the earth, then the leaders of the church need to commit to the wholehearted pursuit of its fulfillment.
Pastors, elders, and ministry staff must learn how to see the world through bifocal lenses. They must embrace the call to make disciples of those nearby and those far away, those similar to them, and those
different than them.
Reluctantly or Timidly. If we take Scripture at its Word, we find every reason to confidently pursue this mission to all the earth in an aggressive and disciplined fashion. For God did not give us a spirit of
timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). Moving from Point A to Point B will require change, struggle, risk, and sacrifice. The leaders of the church must lead and model in
strength and discipline as well as in love and sensitivity.
Independently. At the same time, we must realize that moving from Point A to Point B is a process that is governed and empowered by the Spirit of God. Should we neglect this fact and work independent of our guiding Holy Spirit, our efforts will be in vain and we will find God moving forward in His mission in spite of us, rather than through us. “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty (Zech. 4:6b).
This strategy outlines six guiding steps to building global Christians within and outside the local church.
Step #1 Leadership Mobilization
The first step to becoming a church that mobilizes its members in world evangelism is to make sure the highest levels of leadership are mobilized. A church whose senior pastor refuses to fully embrace the
mandate to “make disciples of all nations” will never reach its mobilization potential, despite the efforts of lay leaders and supporting staff. While this presents an overwhelming obstacle to church members whose leadership is not global-minded, this strategy addresses leaders who are either already mobilized or are willing to embrace the mobilization process. For those willing to embrace the process, the first few months (or more) of the strategy involves significant time in prayer and silence before God, as well as increased input from Scripture and other resources that reveal God’s purposes and the global mission of the church.
Senior Pastor Mobilization
Before making any significant decisions, changes, or announcements, the senior pastor and those closest to him (e.g. spouse, head elder, associate pastor) need to take time to individually embrace the
mobilization process, if they have not already.
1. Education. During his personal study or devotional time the pastor should revisit the biblical theology of God’s heart for the world. He should intentionally step out of the small world of his church and focus on God’s world. During this time it might be helpful to read a well-known missionary biography and a book that traces the Biblical thread of God’s mission to the nations. This time of individual education should last at least a month.
2. Influence. While the senior pastor (as well as those close to him) learns or renews an understanding of God’s heart of all peoples, he should be opening His heart to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Through times of prayer, confession, meditation, and silence and solitude, the pastor seeks to align his heart with the heart of God. Areas of repentance may include racist or ethno-centric attitudes and ministry perspectives, self-centeredness, fear, narrow mindedness, and a lack of submission to God’s global mandate. During this time, the pastor should ask for God’s vision not only personally, but also for the church, concerning growth in global awareness and involvement.
3. Involvement. Before taking steps to lead the church in change, the pastor should take personal steps to change himself. If he has not been already, he should begin modeling what it means to be a global
Christian. There are endless possible ways that he might find to grow in global involvement. Activities such as prayer, verbal and written correspondence, visitations, hobbies and entertainment, reading, and ministry involvements are all susceptible to global involvement, toward the ultimate purpose of spreading God’s glory of all the earth.
Elder and Pastoral Mobilization
After taking time to focus on personal growth, the pastor needs to share his heart with the leading pastors and elders of the church. As the senior pastor, he should challenge each of the leaders to join him in his pursuit to understand, embrace, and act on God’s global purposes. At least another month should be devoted to seeking God’s heart as individual leaders, and together as a leadership body. The pastor might ask everyone to read the same book or articles, or he might ask leaders to explore the topic in different ways and then share what they learn with the group.
The three components of mobilization should be addressed each time the elders and pastors get together to discuss their progress in leadership mobilization.
1. What are you learning about God’s plan for the world and how that relates to the mission of the church?
2. How is the Holy Spirit influencing you concerning reaching the world for Christ?
3. Are you discovering ways to expand your ministry influence? Through prayer? Through correspondence? Through other activities?
After several gatherings of this nature, the senior pastor should begin facilitating discussions and prayer concerning how God would have the church become more effective at building global Christians.
Step #2 Formal Ministry Statements (FMS)
The next step of the global evangelism mobilization strategy (GEMS) involves building a global scope into formal ministry statements (FMS). Formal ministry statements express the theological and philosophical convictions upon which the church builds its ministries. While most churches have some combination of purpose, mission, vision, and value statements, many do not adequately reflect the church’s role in reaching out to the world. If the FMS neglect global intentionality, the ministries of the church will naturally move inward, not outward.
There are three ways the leadership may go about introducing a global perspective into the FMS.
1. Adjust the existing FMS.
2. Create a new set of FMS.
3. Guide the body of believers to discover the FMS for the church.
Rick Warren writes, “Leading your congregation through a discovery of the New Testament purposes for the church is an exciting adventure. Don’t rush through the process.” “People will…hold with conviction what they discover for themselves” (96). While this method of discovery may be feasible with a small or young church, the leaders of a larger or more established church will most likely need to take greater responsibility in the development of the FMS.
Formal ministry statements are only worth the recognition they receive. After developing them, the leaders of the church must find ways to communicate them on an ongoing basis. Communication must occur through a variety of mediums (oral, media, written, symbol) and from a variety of locations (mail, pulpit, church decorations, special events, ministry departments). By building a global emphasis into its FMS and publicizing them frequently, the church will foster a church-wide recognition of its
global calling. (See Appendix G for an FMS example)
Step #3 Ministry Department Structure
Warren challenges churches to organize themselves around their purposes. If the church recognizes that it exists to make disciples of all nations, this purpose must be the driving element of every major
ministry department of the church. While this concept may seem extreme, its foreignness only reveals the tendency of church ministries to lose focus on what really matters. Everything ministries do ought to fall in line with the ultimate purpose of the church. Therefore, every pursuit of every ministry must somehow be connected to the goal of establishing God’s glory in all the earth. When ministries neglect the spiritual condition of those of different ethnicity and/or those far away, their lopsided efforts should be noticeable because of the ministry’s global structure.
Department Ministry Statements (DMS)
The concept of Formal Ministry Statements extends to each ministry department in the form of Department Ministry Statements. While the overall purpose statement should remain the same, the vision, mission, and value statements should reflect the uniqueness of each ministry department. Each of these statements must reveal a global perspective, thus falling in line with the ultimate purpose and mission of the church. Extending ministry statements to every department ensures that each ministry aligns itself with the driving convictions of the church. Ministry leaders are forced to think through what they do, why they do it, and how it furthers the global mission of the church. At the same time, by personalizing a department’s vision and mission, each department finds ownership in their unique ability to advance the gospel to all nations. (See Appendix H for a DMS example)
Yearly Ministry Plans
Each year the ministry staff should develop and communicate a Ministry Plan that provides an answer to the question, “How will your department build global Christians in the following year?” This Ministry Plan should include four major components.
a. Goals and objectives along with strategies and methods to build global Christians through education, influence, and involvement
b. Partnership pursuits (with other ministry departments, other churches, parachurch organizations, etc.)
c. Personal plans to further education, influence, and involvement in world evangelism.
d. Budget proposal including a percentage specifically allocated to ministry efforts involving ethnic groups locally and/or internationally. The crosscultural percentage should increase by 3% each year for five years, beginning at 9%. In this way, ministries will progressively invest more of their efforts and resources in global ministry.
The top leadership of the church must approve the Ministry Plans at the beginning of each year, evaluate progress mid-way through the year, and debrief with the ministry staff at the end of each year. Ministry Plans will only be useful to the extent that they promote purposeful global ministry efforts. (See Appendix I for a condensed Yearly Ministry Plan example)
Every three years the ministry staff should develop and communicate a ministry vision that provides an answer to the question, “What hopes and dreams do you have to maximize the global impact of your area of ministry?” The Ministry Outlook includes the same components as the Ministry Plan. It should reveal challenging growth possibilities relating to educating, influencing, and involving Christians in the mission to make disciples of all nations. It should discuss partnership possibilities, staff development ideas, and budget issues. The Ministry Outlook encourages ministry leaders to “expect great things of God and attempt great things for God.”
Step #4 Ministry Development
While current ministries progress in global evangelism mobilization, the church must be on the lookout for new ministry opportunities to arise. Although developments are sure to occur within every ministry (as leaders acquire mobilization skills), significant ministry opportunities uniquely fitted to the church may go unnoticed. The leading pastors and elders must become students of three questions in order to identify these key opportunities for global impact.
Who Are We?
Every church develops its own personality and style based on the makeup of its leaders and people. By understanding the uniqueness of the church, leaders can make informed decisions concerning which ministries to pursue, who to partner with, and where to devote the most energy. They can identify global impact potential based on the unique combination of gifts, professions, and passions of their people.
Where Are We?
The church needs to understand its surroundings. What types of people are in the community? What religions, races, and cultures are represented? When a mobilized church knows where they are, they can discern where they need to go. They can identify those in their community who are not being reached and develop a strategy to effectively reach them.
Who Do We Know?
Networking is always an important part of expanding a church’s ministry influence. When a church decides to look outside its own walls, outside its culture, and outside its community, the need can seem overwhelming and the opportunities endless. The leadership of the church needs to develop relational antennae to pick up on unique relationships and connections they and their people have that may prove essential to future ministry developments. The best way to answer these questions is to have experts in charge of researching, accumulating, and organizing the information. An expert does not need to be a professional, but he or she needs to be someone interested in the question at hand and skilled at retrieving the answer. Hand picked Christians could develop teams of people to kick-start the accumulation of information. People who have been with a church for many years often have a good understanding of its personality and style. People who have lived in the community for a long time might have knowledge about ethnic populations and their religious involvement. Those in the church who are naturals at networking could be put to work. While all the staff should be students of their church, the three questions above are great ministry assignments for volunteers. College students, retired adults, and others might eagerly participate in projects to help the church leadership discover its unique identity. With an established identity database to collect accumulating information about who we are, where we are, and who we know, the church leadership can take significant steps at maximizing its ministry potential.
Step #5 Equipping Teams
With every staff person and ministry department prioritizing efforts to reach the nations, the Equipping Teams are presented with the challenge of being the Mobilization Resource Agents of the church. Equipping Teams, and any full-time staff selected to lead the teams, are responsible to assist the other staff members and their ministries by providing the tools and resources they need to effectively educate, influence, and involve people in global evangelism. Over time, the ministry staff will gain knowledge concerning global mobilization and ministry resources relevant to their area of ministry. During this learning process they can get help from Equipping Teams.
The International Team provides assistance to church staff and church members regarding international education, influence, and involvement. The following are examples of how the International Team could serve the body of Christ in their mobilization efforts. The Children’s Ministry
leader may consult the International Team in his or her pursuit of quality curriculum for helping grade school children understand what the Bible says about God’s love for children all over the world. Or he or she may ask the International Team to locate an exciting video appropriate for children that highlights the work of missionaries in a far off country. The worship leader might seek advice from the
International Team in his or her search for Burmese music that they can use a special outreach to the Burmese immigrants living in the community. The senior pastor could ask the International Team to
register him for an upcoming ACMC conference, where he can connect with other church leaders who are embracing the global mobilization concept.
Community Extension Team
The Community Extension Team becomes a resource agent in a similar fashion, only they provide tools, resources, and consultation concerning local cross-cultural mobilization and ministry. The middle school and high school ministry leaders would find help from the Community Extension Team in their efforts to plan youth service projects in the area, or in their efforts to provide culturally sensitive outreaches to local minorities. The men’s ministry team could team up with the Community Extension Team to figure out what kind of recreation activities a local ethnic group enjoys, with which they may become involved. The small group ministry would want to gain information and resources from the Community Extension Team to better equip small groups to learn about, pray for, and reach out to people in the community who are different than them. The Community Extension Team can help the church make disciples locally by giving them the tools they need to break down barriers of ignorance, prejudice, and apathy.
The Missionary Team serves the church in its efforts to support its missionaries. The success of missionaries, work in the field is largely dependent on the support of the sending family back home. The mobilizing church will discover how to involve the vast majority of its members in some way with the missionaries they support in international fields. The Missionary Team keeps close ties with important information on all the missionaries. The Team is charged with the task of connecting the
missionary to his or her church family on a regular basis. This involves providing missionaries with consistent correspondence, gifts, finances, and resources. The Missionary Team does this by distributing the needs of the missionaries across the various ministries of the church in an organized fashion. Every ministry, in their efforts to educate, influence, and involve people in world evangelism, will be looking for ways to connect people to missionaries on the field. Small groups will want to “adopt a missionary.” The senior pastor will want to be kept up-to-date on the breaking news of missionary efforts. The GenX ministry will want to know which missionaries they can team up with for short
term missions trips. When missionaries return home on furlough, the Missionary Team will help connect them to their small groups. They will want to help the pastor schedule times to meet with missionaries, interview them in services, and plan future visits to them on the field. The Missionary Team is the resource agent for the missionaries and for the church as it relates to the missionaries.
G.E.M.S. is about helping the church create a “mobilizer friendly” ministry structure so that people can truly become global disciple-makers. Churches do not need more creative people; they need a
ministry structure that fosters creativity. They do not need a list of great ideas; they need a functional system that promotes implementing great ideas, on a global scale! G.E.M.S. provides six simple steps to do just that. Beginning with the top leadership of the church and working its way in and through every ministry department, G.E.M.S. gives the church the global floor plan to mobilize its people to whole-hearted participation in God’s global plan of redemption!
The above article, “Building Global Minded Christians” is written by Mark A. Mays. The article was excerpted from a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the Master of Arts degree in Educational
Ministries at Huntington Graduate School of Christian Ministries. The article was written on April 26, 2002.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.