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Ten thoughts on planning missions

 Like many churches across the country, we're planning our involvement with the Passion for Life mission initiative taking place in Easter 2010.  Here are ten thoughts on these kinds of missions in no particular order.

  1. 'A mission' should be part of a church's ongoing life of mission.  The one-off sports event with gospel talk at half time is one thing. Having a bunch of Christians join a local sports team season by season - befriending and gospelling non-Christians there - now that's an ongoing life of mission.  Its effects will be so much more hidden and ambiguous than the grand week of events.  But the impact will be so much greater for the kingdom.
  2. 'A mission' should be owned by the whole congregation.  The priesthood of all believers applies especially here.  It takes a body working together with speaking and serving gifts working in harmony.  Too often we impose a mission on an unprepared church from the top down.  The events will be unbalanced, few will bring friends and the strong impression will be given that mission is something compartmentalized - done only at special times and only by special people.
  3. The greatest problem with our 'missions' is that typically our Christians don't know any non-Christians.  Not very well anyway.  Now by all means door-knock your locality. By all means lift high the name of Jesus in your community at large. But our priority must be our neighbours, friends, colleagues and families with whom we are already involved.  Or if we're not already involved, we ought to be.  Ideally 'a mission' should be a dew point collecting together the scores of gospel conversations that Christians are already having with the people they're involved with.
  4. Our perceived need for apologetic events is inversely related to our willingness to love our neighbours.  In other words - if we actually loved our neighbours we'd probably find that we didn't 'need' apologetics events after all.  The real trouble is that we're not actually involved with non-Christians, we don't really love them.  And so the only bridge into Christian things that we can think of is an 'apologetic' bridge.  I use the term 'apologetics' advisedly (click my 'apologetics' tag for more).  Because 1 Peter 3:15 (where the word 'apologetics' comes from) is not describing the 'apologetics' that people tend to do today.  1 Peter 3:15 is about giving the gospel reasons for the hope that is so obviously in you as evidenced by your many and deep interactions with unbelievers.  Now if we lived in 1 Peter 3:15-world then our friends and neighbours would see this hope and would ask us about it.  We could give some kind of witness, but - joy of joys - we could also bring them along to a mission event where this gospel hope would be proclaimed by a gifted evangelist.  And if this were the case we'd be praying to God that the evangelist would stop trying to be culturally relevant and would please just sock it to our friend with Christ. The reality is that a) our hope aint that evident and b) we don't get close enough for non-Christians to see it anyway.  Therefore the only way we can think to get non-Christians in the door is to put on talks about "What Jesus would say to the G20 summit" or whatever. 
  5. Conversion is not a process. Conversion is a miracle. How much of our evangelistic strategy belies the evangel we say we believe. 
  6. Non-Christians are nowhere near as excited by 'A Christian view of the Credit Crunch' as Christians are.
  7. If it's credibility you're after, non-Christians figure that the thing (really the only thing) that Christians can speak on credibly is Christianity.  There might be a clue there.
  8. The bible must be front and centre if people are to truly trust the living God and not simply the oratory powers of a visiting speaker.
  9. Often we greatly underestimate the amount of Christian input a non-Christian is expecting / willing to bear once they've accepted an invitation by a trusted Christian friend.  It's a huge deal for a non-Christian to come to an event in the first place.  They're basically expecting to be proselytised.  But once they get there, guess who's afraid of proselytising?  Not them.  Us.
  10. Evangelism is summons to Christ not the presentation of interesting information.  Calling people to repent and believe the gospel at our mission events sets our evangelism in its proper context.  Just by itself a call for people to trust Christ on the night is a powerful demonstration of the nature of the gospel. We ought to call people to Christ and not simply a follow up course  


0 thoughts on “Ten thoughts on planning missions

  1. Tim V-B

    Great stuff Glen. And it came just in time (by an hour!) for me to print off and take to our fifth and final Lent Course session - all about Mission. You make the point I'm about to make (so you must be right!) about mission needing to be our lifestyle, not merely an event.

  2. pgjackson

    Loving it. Especially 1-3, 5, 7-10.

    On 6, surely there's a difference between an event that is 'a Christian view of the credit crunch' where the credit crunch is centre-stage and Christ is sort of tagged on half-heartedly at the end, and an event that is 'a Christian view of the credit crunch' where Christ and his claim on our lives is centre-stage?

    I say this as someone who spoke last week in a church mission on 'hope in an economic crisis.' Surely it's not unfaithful, or selling out, to preach the gospel directly aiming at the idols of our culture, or indeed harness the contemporary signs of God's wrath upon us in order to present Christ is it? I would have thought rather that faithfulness demanded we take aim and fire at people's actual rivals to Christ?

  3. glenscriv

    Thanks Tim - are you posting these talks up some time? Love to see / hear them.

    Hi Pete, same with you - love to read / hear the talk some time. I too did a "Christianity *and* ..." talk last week so I'm not opposed to them at all. And I think treating it as a chance to proclaim the gospel and then aim your guns at the idols of our age is exactly right.

    But I know with my talk, I don't think a single non-Christian came. Lots of Christians saw the posters and came from from churches all over town. I guess they didn't need to be sold on the fact that Christians might have a valid opinion on the subject. But as far as I know, not a single non-Christian thought "I bet Christians can really shed some light on comedy." Probably the opposite to be honest

    And that's really my point with 6. It's just the observation that of course *we* think we can speak interestingly and intelligently on these topics. But typically non-Christians do not. And if we think the non-Christian is more likely to trust what we say about economics so that they'll then trust what we say about Jesus then I think we've got it backwards.

  4. Gav

    Points one and two are excellent Glen!

    We have both the once a year big bang events (which is good though) and the ongoing ones as well and there is absolutely no doubt that more non christians are reached out to through the ongoing ones like community meal, hospital visits, baby bundles ect.

    As for the mission to be owned by the whole congregation, you are right again. Experience in industry tells me that for any "ongoing" efforts to be sustainable, they need to be driven by the critical mass. The difficulty though is in setting up structures, training (if needed) and getting it going in the first place. It normally relies on a passionate leader for this.

  5. Jacky

    Hey Glen,

    Thanks for your recent posts on comedy and 1 Corinthians 7 - the discussion which tends to follow is also very edifying.

    I know I've said this before, but I hope you can elaborate on point 4 a bit more in the future. I totally agree that the type of apologetics today seems to be founded on something which engages people's minds but not necessarily people's hearts, let alone engage people's minds on the wrong Christ-less foundations.

    Keep it up!

  6. pgjackson

    Thanks Glen.

    I think I get you clearer now.

    I'd say our experience was sort of similar, though we didn't plan the event as a 'pull' for total strangers as much as a resource for ongoing lifestyle evangelism amongst friends and neighbours - the kind you describe in your comments. We had plenty of non-christians there interested to hear what the bible had to say on the issue, but they were all in pre-existing relationships with christians, which was presumably why they thought the bible might have something worth hearing.

  7. Dev

    Hey Glen
    great post

    just a thought about 'ongoing mission'
    i think it usually happens when there is 'ongoing first love'
    as in - ongoing inundation of the person and works of Christ
    all the situational training sometimes doesn't help because we often run back in fear at situations we haven't been specifically trained for - and usually leads to mission run by pride rather than love and humility?

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