Mission Education

9 01 2014



I have had many opportunities to speak at different churches, and most of the time when I go, I share the same message. It is a simple message where I take people on a journey of the entire Bible and show them that it is one story. That story, from Genesis to Revelation, is that God desires to redeem sinful mankind back to Himself for His glory. That’s it! Jesus then left us with a mandate that God has now chosen us, in His great mercy, to be His instruments or ambassadors of reconciliation. In the book of Acts, we see the disciples flesh that mandate out by planting churches wherever they went. Then, in the book of Revelation, we see the culmination of the work that God appointed us to do in the picture of a representative crowd from every people group worshipping around His throne. I end my message with a simple question: In light of all of this, what do you think we ought to be doing? By then, the answer is obvious that we should be continuing the work that Jesus and the apostles started of planting churches among all the people groups of the world. We must complete the commission that Jesus gave us and finish writing the book of Acts, so that the picture in Revelation will be realized.

It never ceases to amaze me that every time I preach that message, I will have people come to me afterwards saying that they have never heard that before. I have also seen this story of the Bible change more people’s lives than any other message that I have preached.

We have churches that are full of people that can win Bible trivia games. We host Bible study after Bible study. Anyone can look up the Greek or Hebrew translation of a word in Scripture. Our children memorize verses for prizes. We sing theologically correct worship songs. And every week, we hear sermons that move us with the slickest graphics and most humorous illustrations. But within all of this Christianity, we see very few people making disciples of all nations. This was not just a cute saying that we should slap it on paintings with an eagle, but it was a command from our Boss and Savior. I have had people come up to me, patting my back, and say that missions is just not for them or it is not their calling or gifting. I want to ask them if they have ever read their Bible!

I believe that there are a lot of good people in our churches that have just been led astray from their purpose. I have seen that when some of these folks are faced with a simple mission education, their eyes are opened, real life-change takes place, and they start asking the right questions about what they should do with their lives. The best mission education out there that I have found is a course called Perspectives. God has used this course to do incredible things in people’s lives. I am constantly trying to get people to take this course, because I believe that it is the most important Bible study a person can take. If you are tired of running your own life and wasting it on frivolous things, Perspectives is the class for you.

This Perspectives class is not easy. It is a commitment of 15 weeks. It costs $225, and you do a lot of reading and some homework. But, I promise, it will be the best thing that you have ever done.

We are starting a new class at my church, Grand Avenue Baptist Church, this coming Monday at 6:30pm. If you are interested, you are welcome to attend this first class for free. We will have childcare available along with some great snacks. The speaker that night will be Sean Cooper. Sean is with an organization called the Traveling Team, and you will not want to miss him! He is a very gifted teacher with an incredibly challenging message. If you just know that you are going to take this class, you can register now at perspectives.org.

If you have any questions about this class or other resources, please, contact me.

The Great Commissions

23 01 2013


Two Monday nights ago, I was privileged at our Perspectives class to hear from a speaker named Sean Cooper.  He was absolutely fantastic and did a great job of making the story of God crystal clear to those present. One of the things that really stood out to me was when he began to talk about the Great Commission, and he made the statement that it is not just one commission that we are dealing with but multiple commissions. Normally, we think of the Great Commission as one statement that Jesus made in Matthew at the end of His ministry before His ascension. In actuality, Jesus made many statements that had to do with us going out to tell a lost world the gospel message. We do not know who it was that originally coined the phrase, “The Great Commission,” but we do know that its original intent was to encompass all of the commission statements found in the 4 Gospels and the Book of Acts (Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:19-23, and Acts 1:4-8). We, also, know that Jesus did not speak all of the statements in the same time and place. We know that at least three of these statements were proclaimed by Jesus at different times and at different places to different crowds.

The Great Commission was not something that Jesus just threw out as an afterthought right before He left. It was the heart and soul of His message the entire 40 last days of His earthly ministry.

Sean Cooper asked us if our child did something that we told him not to do, how many times would it take to be called disobedient. Everyone obviously answered that it only takes one time. There is no question that Jesus was speaking these commission statements to all believers. If He has told us at least three times, and we don’t do it, what is that called? It is simple disobedience.

By seeing the number of times that Jesus talked about this, we get a glimpse into God’s heart. His primary desire is that He is glorified by redeeming every tribe back into a relationship with Him, and He has chosen to use you and me to accomplish that goal. How incredible is the grace and mercy of our God, that He would use a sinner such as myself to be apart of His great story!

Money, Money, Money

2 05 2012

Evangelical Christians spend more money on dog food each year than on missions. This is an indictment on our priorities. While people continue to die and go to hell without ever having heard the name of Jesus, our dogs are fat and happy.

Money always seems to be a hot topic when it comes to missions. It seems that every trip we take, I end up asking for more and more money. Most organizations have perspective missionaries raise their own funds before they go. At church we are bombarded about giving money to this great opportunity and that wonderful ministry. It seems like there is just not enough to go around, but that is not true at all. If we, in the American church, look at the way in which we spend our money, we would see that the vast majority of that money is spent on ourselves both corporately and personally.

It is time that we as World Christians begin to spend our money on things of eternal significance. We need to understand that every penny counts. We need to learn to question every expenditure. I am the worst at this. Wrongly, I usually spend first and then think. I have to do a better job of living simply. I certainly don’t think that God calls us all to a life of poverty, but neither does he call us to a life of extravagance. There is a balance that we need to strike between living on rice and beans and thread-bare clothing and buying luxury vehicles that we don’t need. We must remember that God has blessed us to be a blessing to the nations. How are you doing that with your personal finances?

My family and I have two dogs and two sugar gliders (look them up – they are cool), and that stat that I mentioned in the opening paragraph made me stop and think. Do I spend more money on feeding animals than I do on people’s eternities? Just something to think about…

Get to Church

18 04 2012

When my family served as missionaries over in Tanzania, East Africa, we had a fantastic leader named Jon Sapp. Jon now works for the Kansas/Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptist Churches. I will never forget the phrase that he said all the time… “Get to church.” What he meant by that was that everything that we were doing should end in an indigenous, self-replicating church. And we are not alone in that work! Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that He will build His church. Jesus is in the business of building His church, and if that is what He is doing, then I want to be about that as well.

I had the privilege Monday of meeting a man by the name of Bobby Gupta (HBI Global Partners). He taught a Perspectives class that I have been taking. Bobby is from India and has some awesome experiences related to church building. He is actually a part of a movement trying to see 1 million churches started throughout India. During his talk, he shared some of the challenges that he faces. He said that many preachers love to come to India, because they can share the gospel and thousands of people will respond. He said that he has heard mission teams come back from India and other similar places boasting huge amounts of people accepting Christ. The problem, he said, is that he lives in India and he can never find all of those masses of people who have supposedly believed in Jesus. He claimed that too many Western Christians are focused on the proclamation of the gospel only, when Jesus told us very clearly in the Great Commission to go and make disciples – not converts only. This is a much more difficult work. Planting churches requires so much more time and energy than simply sharing the gospel and leaving, but it is essential to the completion of the Great Commission. Bobby left us all with some great quotes from some top missiologists, and I would like to share some of them with you…

David Womack says:
There is only one way the Great Commission can be fulfilled, and that is by establishing Gospel-preaching congregations in every community on the face of the earth.

Dr. Ralph Winters says:
…it seems to me that we should say a church for every people group in the world and at least one for every 1,000 within those groups.

Dr. Donald McGavran says:
The only way we will get the job of the Great Commission done is to plant a church in every community in the world.

Dr. Peter Wagner says:
The best method under heaven for evangelism is church planting. There never was a better method and there never will be.

Holding God’s Blessing

11 04 2012

I believe that most Christians are well-meaning when it comes to missions and the Great Commission. I would never expect a believer to think that missions is a bad thing or even not Biblical. Most would certainly agree that the Great Commission is a mandate given by Jesus for all believers to follow. When pastors preach on Matthew 28:19-20 they always get plenty of amens! The question then is why are more Christians not following this command. I don’t think that most people sit around thinking about how they are going to actively rebel against what God has told them to do, but the fact of the matter is the mandate is not being followed by the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians. There are many answers to why the command is not followed, but I want to focus on one in particular. I believe it to be the biggest culprit. Bear with me as I set it up…

In Genesis 12 we read the Abrahamic Covenant which essentially claims that God is going to bless Abraham and his people so that they, in turn, can bless all the nations of the earth. In other words, God is going to give Abraham land, a large family, wealth, and a great name, so that he can use those gifts to bring glory to God by redeeming a lost world back to God. This applied to the Israelites who would go through seasons of following this command and seasons of rebellion. In the end, the Israelites decided not to share the blessings, so that God eventually hardened their hearts completely (Romans 11:25) and shut off the blessing. Because of Israel’s unbelief, the blessing of the gospel was given to the Gentiles. Now, about 2000 years later, we sit as Americans in the very same position.

The blessings that Abraham received are the same blessings we enjoy today. God gave Abraham land, and today we have unprecedented access to countries that were closed for hundreds of years to the gospel. In two or three days we can literally be anywhere on the planet. God gave Abraham a large family, and in America we have many who profess to be believers and churches everywhere. God gave Abraham great wealth, and in the same way God has richly blessed America.  I have seen poverty, and our poorest are rich compared to most of the world. Our churches contain an incredible amount of wealth – enough to complete the Great Commission if we wanted. God gave Abraham a great name, and he has given America great fame.  I realize that the media shows that the rest of the world hates us, but when I travel overseas I find that to not be true. Everyone wants to move to America.

The question is what are we going to do with these incredible blessings. Will we hoard them for our own good or will we turn around and bless the nations as God commanded? Do we hold our blessings loosely with an open hand or clench them tightly in our fist? I had the privilege of hearing Todd Ahrend speak on this subject in a Perspectives class a couple of months ago. He made the statement that most Christians are well-intentioned, but they are too busy managing their blessings to make an impact for God’s kingdom. Please hear this: We cannot take our blessings to heaven with us, and we will be rewarded in Heaven based on how we use our blessings here on earth (read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

God has greatly blessed you and me. It is now up to us to decide what to do with that blessing. Will we build our own little temporal kingdom or will we use it to build God’s eternal kingdom?

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