A “goer” or a “sender”? Part 2

Are you a sender or a goer?  Or, are you in disobedience?  Those were the two questions that I ended my last post with.  For this post, I’ll begin with just one question and move forward from there.

Is it possible to have a personal, interactive relationship with the God who has revealed Himself in the bible and NOT be interested in what is generally referred to as “missions”?

Me thinks not……and here’s why:

As Matt Kottman so simply and beautifully pointed out in his reply to my last post, God Himself, in the essence of who He is, (a tri-une God), is both a sender, (the Father), a goer, (the Son), and an ongoing sender, (the Holy Spirit), who empowers those that continue to go and those who send them!  Because this is true, anyone, (especially a pastor), with the God-given gift of teaching that is empowered by the Holy Spirit will be challenging God’s people to either go or send those who He does call to go.

As I’ve pointed out before in a previous blog post, those who commandeered the great line from “Field of Dreams” and turned it into “If you teach it, they will come”, were a bit off, in my opinion.  The reality is that, “If you teach it, they will go”!  And obviously the THEY is a reference to God’s people–those who hunger to be taught His word.

And to spin that line one more way, “If you teach it, they will send!”  And they will “send” those who “go” in accordance with the principles that the Apostle John challenged Gaius with in 3 John 6-8.  He basically told Gaius that those who have gone forth for His name’s sake should be sent forward on their journey “in a manner worthy of God” and that by doing so the one who sends them in this way becomes a “fellow worker for the truth”.

The two missionary families that I visited in Mexico a few weeks were great examples of what I’m talking about.  The one family heard the call to “go” 13 years ago.  The other heard that call 26 years ago.  Both of them were sent forward on their journey by their home churches (both of which were Calvary Chapels), in a “manner worthy of God”.  And, as unusual as it is, they have continued to be maintained in various ways by their home churches over all the years they’ve been there in a way that is “worthy of God”.  Their home churches, through the leadership imparted by the senior pastor have truly been “fellow workers for the truth”.

As much as it grieves me to say it, those two missionary families and the care they’ve received from their home churches, (similar to the care I received from my home church when I served on the field), are the miniscule exception and definitely NOT the rule that is the norm within our group of churches.

In my next post I’ll unpackage a few more of the reasons that prompted me to ask the question above (in italics).  But for now, let me leave you with a question based on a different phrase that I heard for the first time at the first CC Senior Pastor’s conference I attended in 1984:

Pastor, are your sheep the “best fed and best loved” even when the Good Shepherd calls them to serve in foreign pastures?

 

 

 

 

 

11 replies
  1. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Great post, Jeff – “If you teach, they will go.” Good line. The teaching of God’s Word should be motivational. God’s Word, by His Spirit creates new desires and new desires develop new behaviors. So much of what we hear is informational, devotional – meant to assuage the emotions and not pierce the conscience – not motivational. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • Jeff Jackson
      Jeff Jackson says:

      Tim,

      I totally agree that the majority of what is heard as God’s word is taught is informational and devotional and definitely assuages the emotions. In my opinion, the reason for that is fairly easy to understand: everything is filtered through the “me” lens we all possess by nature that views all input as only valuable if it improves me or makes my life easier.

      What many people fail to realize, including pastors and other teachers of God’s word is that when Jesus called the two pairs of brothers to Himself, (Peter & Andrew, James & John) in Matt 4:19 He didn’t just challenge them to follow Him, He told them right up front, from day one, that if they did, their walk with Him would be in the context of fishing for men. He gave them an outward focus from the moment He called them to Himself and then spent 3 years training them to be God and other focused which didn’t come naturally to them.

      And again, if we’re really unveiling the God of the bible, even the doctrine of the tri-unity of God, it becomes obvious that walking with Jesus isn’t about what the follower of Jesus gets out of walking but what God desires to do for His glory and the good of others through that follower.

      Reply
      • Tim Brown
        Tim Brown says:

        Jeff, I am teaching Genesis 18:16-22 this weekend. The LORD and the three angels have finished their meal and v16 says that Abraham was walking with them to send them off. It’s like: “Alright, that was a good time together. See you next time.” But not so fast – Abraham was now walking with the Lord – and instead of sending Him off, Abraham got drawn in and began to intercede for S&G. This is what happens – we dine with the Lord, walk with the Lord – and we’re hooked! May the LORD draw all of us in to co-labor with Him.

        Reply
        • Jeff Jackson
          Jeff Jackson says:

          Awesome point Tim! Interesting too that in vs. 18, God believes it’s necessary to tell Abraham what he’s about to do to S&G because He’s already told Abraham that “all the nations (ethnic groups) would be blessed in him”.

          Abraham took seriously what God had told him originally (Gen 12:3) and because of that, God provides the opportunity for Abraham to demonstrate that He took Him seriously….by interceding for anyone righteous in S&G regardless of their ethnicity.

          Reply
          • Tim Brown
            Tim Brown says:

            My sermon title is EnterSeeding. We enter into a situation by prayer and seed it with the mercy of God. The basis for Abraham interceding is that he is a priest and a king. Vv16-18. A priest is a mediator and Abraham is the head of a kingdom of priests. Abraham is also a king because he commands his household and those who will come after. Interesting, in Rev. 1 and 5 we are called a kingdom and priests and we will rule with him. As a priest he knows the mind of God and as a king he passes this on. As an EnterSeeder he enters a situation by prayer and sows seeds of the mercy of God. That’ll preach!

  2. Miles DeBenedictis
    Miles DeBenedictis says:

    Jeff,

    Can you believe it? I completely agree with you!

    Here’s my question. If it is true that it is the exception and not the rule that churches fully support their missionaries. And if it is a reality that home churches can be exceptionally ADD. And if it is true that missions spending is statistically the first to be cut when churches build buildings or cut budgets. Then is it wise for a missionary to have sole support from a single sending church?

    Reply
    • Jeff Jackson
      Jeff Jackson says:

      Miles….thanks for the softball!

      Although I will get into it in a later post, let me summarize here what I’ve come to believe on the subject of financial support, (as distinct from the many other areas of “support” a local church should extend to its missionaries).

      It really isn’t wise for a local church to fully fund the financial needs of its members that calls to the mission field FROM THE CHURCH’S general or mission’s budget. There are numerous reasons for this, some of which you mentioned: churches tend to be ADD and shift gears regularly, building projects and remodeling projects start, the senior pastor moves for whatever reason, and so forth. Sad to say, it is usually the missions budget and thus the missionaries themselves that seem to be at the top of the list of ways to cut expenditures.

      Suffice it to say here, that I recommend that no more than 50 percent of the missionaries monthly financial needs should come from the church’s budget, and 25 percent is maybe even better. If God is really calling the missionary and they have good relationships with church members both within their home churches and brethren that attend other churches, some of those folks will catch the vision and get behind them financially. It’s really a validation of the call that is produced by God but is the result of the potential missionary building trust, credibility, and respect as a servant of God who it isn’t a stretch to believe that God could use in the mission field. and because of the trust.

      For pragmatic reasons, this principle is true: The broader the base of financial support, the less damage the departure of any one or two sources of financial support.

      I’ll get to this later too, but because of the points you bring up and a few others, there are a number of solid, fruitful, faithful missionaries out there who are what I call “field orphans”. Their home churches have basically abandoned them for whatever reason, (not for rebellion or moral failures), and it would be a huge blessing for them to be “adopted” by a home church. Again, more on this later.

      Reply
    • Jon Langley
      Jon Langley says:

      Miles — I agree with Jeff’s answer to your question from the “sent” side of the coin. I think his OP is a better description of the other side of that coin… the “senders”. It the cases he pointed out as rare, the sending churches clearly were NOT ADD, did NOT cut missions support before buying less doughnuts on Sunday mornings, etc.

      As a missionary I have to answer yes to your question: it’s not wise to have sole support from a single sending church. And yet that’s only a pragmatic reaction BECAUSE OF the “sending church” issues you mentioned, and not because it isn’t or shouldn’t be the ideal.

      The Biblical ideal seems to be something like what Jeff mentioned in his response. Paul and Barnabas received a portion of their support from more than just Antioch. Clearly multiple sources is “normal” from Pauline example. But the disproportionate amount of support from the four corners of the globe (while an awesome testament to God’s faithfulness!), combined with the “ADD” you mentioned, and the “quick to cut missions” mentality, are clear indicators that something is askew. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. But askew.

      Reply

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