The Send Network Church Planting Blog

Introduction to engaging the nations

September 28, 2015 by Michael Seaman
Are You Living on Mission or Are You Just Living on Ministry? What if someone told you that you were made for the world? How would that change the way you viewed the ministry that God has gifted you? How would that alter your understanding of the church and her mission? How would that transform the way you work, serve, raise a family, make friends, lead your church? Well, guess what? Someone has told you that you were made for the world. And guess what? That same someone created you, in Gen 1:26-28, in His image to have dominion over the earth by multiplying that divine image. So whether you live in a city like Toronto, where I live, that has the nations at its doorstep, or you live in a town like Castalia, NC, that’s typical small town America, God has created you particularly to influence the world. As an ambassador for Christ then, Lesslie Newbigin in The Open Secret says that our missionary identity is reflected in the Trinitarian image of God by: 1) Proclaiming the Kingdom of the Father 2) Sharing the Life of the Son 3) Bearing the Witness of the Spirit
So whether you live in a city like Toronto, where I live, that has the nations at its doorstep, or you live in a town like Castalia, NC, that’s typical small town America, God has created you particularly to influence the world.
Based on this paradigm, here’s 3 shifts in our biblical thinking that need to happen in order to go from living on ministry to living on mission:

Replace Your Church Mentality With a Kingdom Mentality

John Stott says that mission arises not out of the nature of the church, but out of the nature of God Himself as He’s establishing His kingdom (Christian Mission in the Modern World). Look, I love the local church; I’m a church planter. But if we myopically focus on establishing the church, it’s possible that we might miss the kingdom. On the other hand, if we start with the kingdom, we’ll always get to the church. After all, when Jesus came on the scene in Matt 4:17, He didn’t say, “Repent, for the church of heaven is at hand;” He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then He proceeded to show us what the kingdom looks like in the Sermon on the Mount. Yes, of course, the church advances the kingdom, but it’s the kingdom that informs the church. Discover the kingdom. Study the kingdom. Pursue the kingdom.

Instead of Being A Church That Just Sends Missionaries, Be A Church That Is A Missionary

The church is the Bride of Christ; one flesh with Jesus. The Father sent Jesus on mission. The church is on mission with Jesus. This is a simple, yet profound understanding that will significantly transform the way you serve in your church and lead your church. Richard Bauckham in Bible and Mission builds his case for this understanding on the fact that God takes what is particular to impact what is universal. God uses a particular people to be a light to the nations. God uses a specific Savior to redeem the world. God uses a clearly-marked community to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. How are you leading your church to live on mission and not just ministry? Deuteronomy 4 makes clear that when the people of God usher in the presence of God by living out the mission of God, the nations around us will take notice and see the Lord our God for who He is. Can you say that about your church?
God uses a particular people to be a light to the nations. God uses a specific Savior to redeem the world. God uses a clearly-marked community to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

Stop Asking, “How’s My Church?” and Start Asking, “How’s My City?”

I’ve heard Bob Roberts Jr. say the above statement so many times; it’s one of the foundational principles of his book Glocalization. Bob says the first question is one that a pastor asks, but the second question is one that a missionary asks. The first question is one that is inward-focused; the second question is one that pushes the church outward. Are you a ministry pastor or a missionary pastor? Our God is a missionary God. And it is in this missionary image that we have been created. After you answer the question, “How’s my city?” the next question you ask is, “Where is the Spirit of God moving and how do I join Him?” Christopher Wright in The Mission of God says, “The whole Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation.” You weren’t created for your little segment of society; you were created for the world.

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