Seven Steps Toward Meeting The Challenge Of World Missions
By Chuck Lawless
Even with the phenomenal opportunities we have to spread the gospel today, much of the world still waits for the good news of Jesus. The numbers reveal the need:
* Of more than 11,000 people groups, some 6,400 remain unreached (that is, less than 2 percent of the population is evangelical Christian).
* More than 2,000 of these groups have a population of 100,000 people or more.
* Of these 2,000 large groups, slightly more than 600 are still unengaged.
* Some 4,100 groups with a total of 450 million people have no portion of the Scripture available in their language.
* Each day the world population grows by about 500,000, and the number of people not having an adequate opportunity to respond to the gospel increases by almost 91,000.
This past year, my combined roles as Dean of the Billy Graham School at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and theological education consultant for the international missions agency of the Southern Baptist Convention have allowed me to see global outreach up close. I have worked with dedicated students who are preparing to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I have also served on the field short-term alongside deeply committed missionaries. I have met national believers who are putting their lives on the line to follow Jesus. As a result, I have seen even more clearly how central the local church is for the work of global outreach.
Most important in the work of a local church to reach globally is prayer for missionaries. Never have I met a missionary who did not long for believers to pray for him. Rather, most missionaries have sought our prayer support more than any other type of assistance. They know that they cannot do the work to which God has called them without his power.
The processes and policies for securing funds vary according to the missionary and the mission agency, but the local church’s financial support is always significant. Out of the wealth God has given us, we are privileged to help sustain global outreach.
The local church is also the source of international missionaries. Many of the missionaries I have met speak of a home church that taught them, prayed for them, and sent them out. In fact, the missionaries are now simply a Great Commission extension of that church.
Seven steps closer to reaching the world
In doing the work of global outreach, my church matters. Your church matters. The church down the road matters. Every local church can�and must�play a role if we intend to carry out the Great Commission. Consider these simple ways to increase your church’s commitment to global outreach:
1. Ask God to give you a heart for the world. I have seen entire churches burdened about the Great Commission after God moved first in the life of only church member. Passionate, mission-minded church members are difficult to ignore!
2. Teach about missions. Train children, youth, and adults about the significance of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Use every opportunity to show why every follower of Christ should be concerned about missions.
3. Promote, promote, and promote again any missions offering that your church supports. Challenge your members to give sacrificially. For example, encourage them to give to missions at least a tithe of what they spend on Christmas gifts this year.
4. Invite stateside missionaries to speak to the church. Nothing speaks to churches quite like a “real live” missionary does, and the time set aside for a missionary speaker is time well spent. Contact any missions agency to find the names of missionaries now on stateside assignment.
5. Challenge church members to pray daily for missionaries. Provide a list of names and needs, being careful to protect missionaries who serve in sensitive areas.
6. Sponsor a short-term mission trip for your church members. Teaching about missions is a starting point, but actually experiencing missions can be life-changing. Set a goal to send at least 10 percent of your church’s active attenders on a mission trip this year. Be sure to commission your members as missionaries as you send them out.
7. Pray corporately that God will call some of your church’s members to be career missionaries. Perhaps he will use some of your members to take the gospel where it has never been.
This article “Seven Steps Toward Meeting The Challenge Of World Missions” by Chuck Lawless is excerpted from the Church Central Newsletter, 16 Sep 2008.