The ways of Jesus as a missionary

Rick Duncan, who serves as Send Network regional equipper in the Ohio Valley, says one of his favorite exercises to do with church planting residents is to put up a big Post-it note and brainstorm with the planters. Recently he did that with the Send Cleveland Residency planters. The topic was ‘Jesus as a missionary’ based on John 20:21, which says, “As the Father sent Me, so I also am sending you.” What the Cleveland planters came up with was a good description of what it looks like for a church planter to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as a sent missionary.

Fast and pray.

We see Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before He started his ministry. Similarly for us as planters, fasting and praying is necessary because the work we’re engaging in is spiritual work, and we can’t do it in our own strength.

Resist temptation.

In Matthew 4, Jesus sets an example of resisting the Devil’s temptation. The character we have as church planters is also of utmost importance — we need to make sure we are actually living the kind of life we are inviting others to live. We have to be holy, fighting against the lusts of the eyes, flesh and boastful pride, as 1 John 2:16 tells us.

Be Spirit-led and Spirit-filled.

Jesus left the desert in the power of the Spirit. He spent a lot of time with the Father and did everything he did in the power of the Spirit. We too should strive to live and serve that way.

Preach the Word.

Jesus traveled through the land sharing the gospel. As planters, we too should focus on proclaiming the gospel, planting churches from the harvest for the harvest. As Jesus did, call people to repent, and preach the gospel of the Kingdom. Stay focused on that. Don’t focus on just starting a Sunday service. Focus on reaching the lost, making disciples by being a laborer in the harvest field.

Be holistic in ministry.

In Scripture, we see Jesus healing people. He was involved in alleviating pain and suffering. We too should embody the implications of the gospel message and work to bring restoration to people’s lives. There are points of pain and need in our context, and we should go straight to those. Do good deeds so you can share the good news.

Gather a core team.

Jesus gathered the 12 to Himself, then discipled and trained them to go out. As planters, we too need to be prayerful about gathering a missionary core team. We should be careful and Spirit-led in that effort — we shouldn’t rush and appoint leaders too soon.

Be very, very relational.

As Jesus modeled and commanded, love one another. He often pulled away to spend time with the Father, but then He would reemerge to invest in people. We can see Him focusing on the three. Who are your three? Who are your 12?

Reach the last and least.

Jesus often reached the people whom most people would pass by, such as the lepers or the Samaritan woman. If you’re going to plant like Jesus, you can’t just go after the people with deep pockets or the people you believe would help your cause. Jesus went after the unlikely people. Seek to serve, not to be served.

Hang out and eat with sinners.

Jesus was often seen eating and celebrating with sinners. Are you sitting down to share a meal or coffee with people in your home who are far from God? You can use that as a platform or backdrop to share the gospel.

Equip your team for multiplication.

As Jesus did with His disciples, build laborers for the harvest — in essence, say to others, “Do what I do.” Plant “pregnant” — plant with a partner who will one day go out and plant the next church.

Show your team how to build relationships with nonbelievers. Model spending time with the Father. From the very beginning, think about multiplying.

Deny yourself; take up your cross.

Jesus ultimately displays His love for His people by dying. There’s got to be a sense in which we also “die” in ministry — that we serve others through sacrifice and self-denial. And just as God raised Jesus from the dead, He will reward and bear fruit through planters who will deny themselves for the sake of the Kingdom.

Give yourself a grade on a scale of 1-10, 10 being high in each of these areas. Which of these “ways of Jesus as a missionary” is a strength for you? How could you leverage that strength to have a greater impact? In which area do you most need to grow? What steps could you take to grow in that area? Who can help you? When will you start? 

NEXT STEPS >> Learn more about how you or your church can be a part of a church-planting residency here.

Published June 7, 2021