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By Randy Nabors
Dr. Elias Medeiros of Reformed Theological Seminary has said, (in Resources, from Nov. 8, 2017) “In the way I define the word “missional” is this: mission means to live as a saint, one of the Lord’s.” In addition, he says, “It means to live as a sent one, to think as a sent one, to write as a sent one for the sake of God’s glory, the edification of God’s people the church, and the salvation of the lost, across the street and around the world.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Dr. Medeiros discusses this topic because there is no real consensus about the word “missional.” Others have used the term to seemingly distance themselves from a sales pitch kind of evangelism. They have wanted to see their task as missionaries or church planters as a more “organic” and “relational” effort in making connections and friends and seeing that develop into a discipling relationship.
Still others use the term to be wholistic in invading various cultures with the truths of the Kingdom, and these would include what it means to be fully human, to understand the Imago Dei, the brokenness of cultures in regard to evil, and injustice, and to proclaim the Lordship of Christ in all areas so that cultures might be transformed.
The essential meaning of being missional must come from John 17, which is the source of Dr. Medeiros comments. Jesus said in John 17:18, “As you (the Father) sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” In this passage of the prayer of Jesus to the Father we learn essential things about Jesus and ourselves.
- God the Father sent Jesus into the world.
- As the Father sent the Son so the Son sends all who have believed in him.
- Those of us who have believed in him have been sanctified in the truth by the Word of God. This makes us holy, or saints.
- We are sent by both the Father and the Son, into the world.
- We are to bear witness that the Father did indeed send the Son.
- The power and quality of that witness is our unity, our “oneness” which portrays the oneness of the Father and the Son.
- Jesus wants the world to believe in him and know that the Father has loved them.
But there is conflict among various preachers and teachers, between various evangelists, missionaries, and church planters about the whole concept of missions and how we do it, and what are its aims.
Some of the conflict goes back to a disagreement between those who have sought to get non-Christians to decide to pray a sinner’s prayer, and those who called for a more creditable profession of faith by having such decisions be the first act of being a disciple. As one ministry, the Cedine Bible Camp, motto used to be, “Disciples not Decisions.” Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism was accused of practicing “decisional regeneration” rather than calling for real faith which produced the fruit of righteousness.
Others have had conflict over what it means to be a witness in the world. They have stressed the “quality” of the believer’s life, in terms of love for both other saints in the Church, and love for the lost. They have stressed more of a ministry of presence rather than an agenda of reaching. They have stressed the concepts of human flourishing and peace. They have stressed the practice of mercy and justice and less of an aggressive verbal witness in calling people to faith. Some stress this while still being energetic in proclamation, others have used “presence” as an excuse not to preach.
There is much that can be spoken about concerning both the theological and methodological failures of the missionary enterprise, but this is a short paper.
I would like to reflect on some positive features of being “missional” from John 17.
- Every Christian is sent into the world. Now one might say they feel more left in the world than sent, but either way, Jesus has not taken us directly to heaven after we believed, and he has said that he and the Father have “sent” us into the world. Therefore, we are on mission. Our challenge is to “engage” it.
- That mission has theological content. We are sanctified by and in the truth, which Jesus interprets as the Father’s Word. It is the truth of the Gospel (that Christ has come from the Father, died for our sins, and risen again) that we are to proclaim. This is a message we must speak, preach, and use to persuade people of the world.
- This mission has an aim, that people of the world who do not yet believe in Jesus would come to believe that the Father has sent Jesus, and that the Father loves them. Without achieving that aim in every person of the world we have not yet accomplished our mission. If one is not engaged in trying to achieve that goal they are failing in their mission. If we are engaged in trying to finish this task (which we might assume is unending until Christ returns) we are still “on mission.”
- There is a credibility built into being a saint that helps convince people to believe that the Father has sent the Son. That credibility is the quality of our “oneness,” our unity. This unity is built on love, which is the evidence that we are truly disciples of Jesus. We must give evidence of being loved by the Father, not simply by giving out a propositional message, but by loving each other, and loving the people of the world for whom Christ came. When we love, we flourish. When we love we care about persons, and humanity. When we love we practice mercy and justice. As John Perkins says, “Love is the final fight.”
It is coming up on one year since I took the post of “Pastor For Missions” at 1st Presbyterian Church here in Chattanooga. Joan and I were serving in London for the summer of 2022 when I was offered the job/task/position of mission’s pastor. The year has gone by pretty fast, and I have been on a steep learning curve since I arrived.
It is appropriate for me to give thanks at this point. We thank God for this calling and opportunity. We are thankful to Pastor Gabe, the World Missions Executive Committee, and the Session for including us in your ministry. At times I feel very inadequate. When we were asked to come, we were told it was not just about Foreign Missions but that Home Missions would also be part of my responsibility; and some pastoral duties from time to time. I am happy to do all of that.
I was thrilled to meet Elinor Espinosa when I came and to realize that she, compared to me, knew what she was doing. I am so grateful to have her experience and expertise to keep the ministry going. 1st PC has a great Executive Missions Committee and I am thankful for their direction, prayers, and support.
Here are some of the things I have tried to do, and have learned, and look forward to doing in my job…
1- Learning and working with the members and policies of the WMEC.
2- Becoming part of the pastoral team and working with our pastoral staff in planning, worship, preaching, praying, and leading.
3- Working with the Pastoral staff though a process of establishing a new vision statement and strategic plan.
4- Learning the officers of the church and the Elders, though I confess I still have trouble remembering names.
5- Planning, recruiting, and executing a mission trip to Kenya.
6- Participating in my first mission’s conference in 2022.
7- Helping to finalize the budget for 2023, and seeing God provide wonderfully at the end of 2022.
8- Learning the policies and leadership of the Outreach Ministry Team (Home Missions).
9- Working with Shad Guinn in outreach planning and strategy.
10- Helping the Outreach Ministry Team secure an expanded budget for more outreach, with a greater emphasis on church planting.
11- We sent two young ladies to the IVCF Missionary Convention.-
12- Going with Shad to the Community Development Community Association conference in Charlotte, and the Expositional Conference (on church planting and evangelism) in Orlando.
13- Visiting with Allan Barth at Spanish River PC hosting church planting network leaders.
14- Planning and executing the Spring Ministries Expo in the Fellowship Hall.
15- Planning and executing a Spring World Missons Committee retreat at Camp Vesper Point.
16- Challenging the congregation for a matching grant for earthquake response.
17- Seeing the WMEC move Native American ministries from Home Missions to Foreign missions for better support.
18- Visiting the Sysco’s in Vancouver and the Clevenger’s in Yakama, WS.
19- Recruiting and including Native Americans in our mission trip to Kenya.
20- Adding an Internship Program to missions and helping other summer ministries with their “manpower.”
21- Providing a weekly discipleship meeting for our interns.
22- Planned and executed an Evangelism training seminar.
23- Joining and participating in the weekly Missions Prayer Meeting.
24- Planning and recruiting for our next World Missions Conference.
25- Communicating with our established missionaries and mission works through Zoom calls, emails, and phone calls.
26- Hosting visiting missionaries with “lunch bunches” or private meetings.
27- Taking appointments for prospective new missionaries, interviewing them.
28- Creation of an expanded Missionary Candidate Committee, meeting twice a year to decide on those applicants we will support.
29- Working on ways to grow both mission’s budgets and to increase various kinds of ministries and missions.
30- Attending the Tennessee Valley Presbytery Church Planting seminar.
31- Working with staff to create videos and communications regarding the missions ministry of FPC.
32- Going with Shad Guinn to visit various Chattanooga ministries and opportunities.
33- Encouraging the Deacons (through Shad) in responding to emergency needs.
34- Expanding the missionary closet ministry by inviting all PCA churches in Chattanooga to have any of their supported missionaries use it.
I am challenged by the need and the opportunities we face, both here in Chattanooga and around the world. Part of meeting that challenge will be to make some of our policies for supporting missions more flexible. We can give grants and smaller support for “projects”, especially to initiate new work. We can use our resources to encourage the mission involvement of ethnic minorities, thus expanding the missionary force.
We see the challenge of increasing diversity in our congregation through evangelism, discipleship, internships, and mission involvement. There is a great harvest to be reaped, may the Lord help us to reap.
Oh, I’m getting excited about our 72nd Annual World Missions Conference. It will be here before we know it, October 18-22. Hopefully you will hear about missions on Sunday October 15th as well. I am excited because we will have a great gathering of our missionaries, and some prospective missionaries, here at our church. We also have some of our very own people who are praying about going into missions.
Surely you have seen the posters up on the walls of the sanctuary, they are there to open our eyes to the harvest, as Jesus told us, that exists around the world. At the conference we will have a parade of flags representing those countries that have visiting missionaries. This whole week should be a time of celebration, prayer, fellowship, renewal of friendships, some good eating, worship, and great preaching.
There are some things that I hope you will be praying about and aware of during the conference:
- Missions is part of the advancement of God’s Kingdom in the world and that means the Devil is opposed to it. So, be aware of the spiritual warfare that goes on in even having a conference. This means you should pray.
- Missions is a call to God’s people to support the work and the workers through prayer, and through our giving.
- Here at 1st Pres we support missions through a “Faith-Promise” way of giving. This means each of us prays for God to bless us so we can financially support missions. We take a step of faith and say, “By God’s grace I commit to give this much (amount is up to you/and God) this year for missions.” Then we give, by faith, each month, toward raising the Mission’s Budget.
- We encourage people not only to give out of their surplus, but by faith, and even sacrificially.
- This year our budget aspires to go up by $50,000.00 for a total of $900,000.00
- Remember, God is able to do above what we can ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20
- Please express your personal welcome to each missionary you meet.
- Be thankful for those who have opened their homes for housing our missionaries, and for hosting a missionary open house.
- Come to as many of the meetings as you can. It is an intense week, a revival week, and invite others to come with you.
- Pray for the Lord to touch the hearts of our children and youth concerning the message of the Gospel, and the need to share it around the world.
- Pray for an anointing on our main speaker, Andy Longwe, and all of our speakers, that God would speak mightily through them.
- Pray for all the travel arrangements of our guests; for well-coordinated flights, safety, and good circumstances so they will not be prohibited in their coming.
Did I mention we should be praying?
May God be glorified,
Pastor for Missions
Total giving through World Relief & Development for 2023: $45,000
Additionally, in the aftermath of the devastation to Turkey and Syria in February, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church raised and sent $38,361.46 in relief to victims of the earthquake, through MTW and a ministry in Turkey working through local churches.
Total giving to relief & development work around the world: $83,361.46.
On January 28, the Session
formally approved First Presbyterian Church’s acceptance of Mission to the
World’s challenge to pray and mobilize 1% of our members to serve overseas for
1 year or longer. The
PCA has a goal of sending out 1% of its adult membership—currently at about
280,000—to the foreign mission field over the next 10 years. Contact the World
Missions staff if you would like to learn more about overseas service with MTW
or any other mission organization.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.—Matthew 9:37
Hang tight while we look up scheduled events...