Webster’s Dictionary defines MISSION as, “A noun; an allotted, self-imposed duty or task; a calling.” It means something or someone is moving from one location to another for a specific purpose. Jesus says, “As the Father sent Me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) So, what is our mission? What are YOU being sent to do? Well, if you haven’t already figured it out, our mission is founded in Jesus Christ’s mission. He is the Key to what you and I do in our church.
It reminds me of a silly story I heard about Jesus returning to heaven after His earthly ministry. One of the angels saw Him and His nail-scarred hands. The angel asked, “Well, how did it go?” “It maybe looks bad, but, I got the work done to bring salvation and, now the Gospel can be spread throughout the whole world,” Jesus replied. “How’s that going to happen,” the angel asked. “I left the power of the Gospel with Peter, James, John and all the rest of the disciples,” Jesus replied. “What’s Your plan B if that doesn’t work,” the angel pressed. “There is no plan B,” Jesus said.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). That was His mission. Mission Accomplished!! The Apostle Paul replies, “The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work the Lord Jesus gave me, to tell people the Good News about God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) Once we realize that God loves us, forgives us and makes us part of His family, St. Peter proclaims, “We can rejoice and give praise, “declaring His excellencies who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9). Then, we can truly serve God and others for His building of His kingdom and the glory of His name. As soon as we are “given” the cure from everlasting death, we are free to share its Good News with others, as well. The mission of any Christian Church is to share this Good News… evangelism.
That’s a dirty word in many circles. The word, “evangelism” makes us think of men with “big hair” asking for money on TV. But, evangelism isn’t about big hair, fancy outfits, or slick talk. Evangelism is sharing… sharing the Good News so the lost and dying can be saved for eternal life through Jesus Christ. “Sharing, so we may share the Good News of Christ Jesus.”
Jesus didn’t call His people to be salespeople. He called them to be witnesses and sharers. All He wants us to do is to be His witness to others… letting others know the peace, hope and love that comes from God by grace. “I once was lost, but now am found; t’was blind, but now I see,” we sing in that old familiar hymn.
A Gallup survey last year found that 65 million Americans have no church home. Over 3 million people in the Mid-South District have never heard the name of Christ inside a church building. Many people in our communities don’t go to sleep at night knowing they have a Savior. Yet, over 35 million of the Americans with no church home said they would, “go to church, if someone invited them.” Opportunities surround us on every corner. Responsibility meets us at every door. The privilege of sharing Christ with a co-worker, a neighbor or friend walks alongside us on every street.
Is it tough work? Of course. But Paul says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. Make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5) Sharing is frightening to witness to people about the Gospel. But, Paul continues, “Whatever a person is like, I try to find common grounds with him so that He will let me tell him about Christ, and let Christ save him.” (I Corinthians 9:22)
It all boils down to this – do we really care? “God does not want anyone to be lost, but He wants all people to change their hearts and lives.” (II Peter 3:9) Yet, you and I are entrusted with the solution! This isn’t a message to pin guilt on your shoulders. It’s a message of encouragement to embrace witnessing – YOUR mission, God’s mission. If we care about it, we will share it and shout it. Whatever your gift – reading, praying, visiting or whatever God has equipped you with for His mission, it is meant for serving God.
Church planting is just one way we can collectively catch the attention of a person God places in front of us for the privilege of sharing the Gospel. We can continue planting and re-planting churches only with the support of the congregations and faithful servants in the Mid-South. “Yeah, but we’ve tried these things before,” is the criticism we’ve heard before. “Tried”? It’s perhaps time for us to engage, equip, and encourage us to really do it. Whether it’s by personal witnessing, or financially supporting our church planting initiatives, we’re about God’s work in the harvest field where He’s placed us. The most engaging prayer – and perhaps the most dramatic – is the prayer that says, “God use me for Your kingdom.” Watch the almighty hand of God equip and supply us in the most incredible ways.
Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola