In taking the advice of a friend to further my education in Bible and Missions, I am reading Developing a Strategy for Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Cultural Introduction (Encountering Mission) by J.D. Payne and John Mark Terry. What strikes me is how it resonates so closely with my goals.
To paraphrase a paragraph I read at 4% through:
The Spirit interrupted Paul’s plans to plant a church in Philippi (Acts 16:6-7). I think immediately of my past ministries that had a short shelf life of 2-5 years. I was interrupted because, while these ministries were good, God had something better being planned. The writer continues on this subject:
“An example of this paradigm would include taking a tract-distribution strategy that the Lord used greatly in a highly literate part of the world and applying it in a predominately oral setting. Although the Gospel message contained in the booklet is God’s Word, relevant for everyone, the strategy would not be as effective when applied to a society primarily composed of oral learners.”
The Standard Solution the writers talk about appears to be a common exercise in church. Like what the authors conclude 5% through the book, the Standard Solution, “fails to take humanity and society into consideration.”
I’ve been hearing and reading how people are leaving the church. I’ve observed how church continues to work in a traditional sense to reach non-believers or the unchurched with programs, expecting people to come to them. It’s kind of like, “Check! We did this program! Evangelism effort done.” It’s evangelism on their terms without taking into consideration the need for love from the surrounding community; the gaping spiritual hole in the lives of the untouched and unsaved. The Standard Solution of church programs forget the relationship aspect of evangelism. Relationships take effort and time and is not age-restricted to young or old. It is not the responsibility of the leadership of the church to reach out, but rather the congregation. Neither do I see the mission quote, “Go where they are,” often exercised in the effort.
“Go where they are,” means becoming uncomfortable and learning the cultures in the people groups in your country and in foreign countries so the power of the Gospel in the lives of others becomes overwhelming, and not a barrier. That means the cultures of people groups in your own communities, whether they are white or some other race; people in our communities come from different backgrounds, both normal and dysfunctional. Going where people are means also going to the online world and engaging the culture who, like me, believe is another community; just as real as the real world. Going out of your comfort zone is not merely creating another church program in your building, but in physically seeking out unchurched and unbelievers in your community.
It means putting aside your pride and prejudices to learn new technology to engage others online, using your experience and knowledge to cultivate relationships; or perhaps, getting involved outside of your church in some secular position to get to know and learn the language of the world in order that you may help them understand the holiness of our Father. Church programs are okay, but it should not be the only strategy used for reaching people.
If we only have church programs, how is that challenging your congregation to get out of their comfort zones? It seems to me that church programs keep congregations in their comfortable place rather than challenging them to do something non-traditional.
Let’s color outside the lines and think outside the box in our missions strategy. Jesus walked 13,500 miles before He began His ministry. After beginning His ministry, Jesus walked an additional 15,000 miles. He went where He was needed, and the online world needs a few hours of your time.
Cataclysm Missions International wants you. More information will be given to you later. Meanwhile, let me ask you: Is your primary reason for using social media to sell something or your church? Or is your first focus evangelism or discipleship? Are you in competition with other ministries and churches, or are you working with them for the greater goal of furthering the Gospel?
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