Distracted by missions
Missions is not the goal. It's only the vehicle.
We can get addicted to the mission. It's exciting, challenging work. It can have an air of the exotic, sometimes involving places we've never been. The scope of the work is captivating.
The danger is getting people interested in the cause, without any interest in the King. Maybe that's a little strong. Perhaps, people get distracted away from the King. Skye Jethani has written, “Many church leaders unknowingly replace the transcendent vitality of a life with God for the ego satisfaction they derive from a life for God.”
Vehicle without an engine
When missions alone is the goal, we are working for God from a dwindling resource. Eventually that vehicle will stop running. There is no engine. The will of the King on earth, as it is in heaven, is the goal. Missions is a vehicle to move toward that goal. Life with God is the engine in that vehicle.
If we can captivate people with the will of the King, the work of the Kingdom will be accomplished. Rallying people to the work of the Kingdom (missions) apart from a vital, intimate relationship with the King, is what devolves missions into nothing more than brochures, booths, and board meetings.
Proximity determines passion
When it comes down to it, missions conferences are flailing because of the distance between the person in the pew and the King. Get people closer to the King and you'll witness rising passion for the work of the Kingdom.
Scrapping missionary parades, dinners, and conferences does not solve the core issue of waning relationship with King Jesus. Any discussion about why missions is waning needs to start with taking the pulse on people's life with God.
Leaders who get people excited about missions without making sure they are excited about their relationship with Jesus is like loading people on a bus without an engine.
Mission as overflow
The history of the missions conference in The Alliance actually had little to do with missions. They weren't even called missions conferences. They were called deeper-life conferences and would last an entire week.
Message after message would be given on the work of Jesus rescuing people from sin, how he changes people from the inside out, his restoration of all things, and that he will return as King to make everything right.
Only after sitting under a downpour of everything Jesus has done, would a message be given about missions. After a week of messages about Jesus' work, an invitation to join in the work was presented. Missions was an overflow of the life of Jesus.
If you are not confident your church or missions team's strategy and plan for missions is a result of the overflow of life with Jesus, please don't propose to bring the demolition crew for an overhaul. Be overwhelmed by the work of Jesus and let the work be an overflow of his.
What do you think?
Here are a couple of questions to spark a conversation among your team:
[This was originally published in EMQ January 2016 in a symposium on the topic of getting rid of missions conferences]
- In what ways are we putting as much energy into fostering people's intimacy with the King as we are their work for the King?
- How are we making it clear to people that the goal is the reign of King Jesus in hearts and throughout the world?