apoLuo WORKSHOP CONTENT #002: WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?
#2 in a series devoted to sending churches. The content of this post is adapted from BMW’s 6-hour apoLuo workshop. Numbered articles are intended to be read sequentially for maximum benefit. (This article originally posted in 2012 and is being republished for new readers that may have missed it–Editor).
Did your parents ever ask you, “Why are you doing that?”
It was always a disconcerting question because it was only asked when we were doing something…well, unorthodox. And because it forced us to explain our reasons for doing what often defied reason.
We in BMW have no trouble explaining why we do what we do.
Missions by definition is the same today as it was in the first century, and that definition is provided for us in Acts 13-14. But there are other passages that warrant our attention first.
SEEING GOD’S HEART
Throughout the Old Testament, Jehovah declares His desire to have all nations worship Him. A number of the Psalms, for instance, are like an MRI that gives us a clear view of the missional heart of God. (Psa 117, 67, 96)
Quoting Isaiah, Jesus calls the temple “a house of prayer for all the nations”. (Mar 11.17)
James tells us that we are “…brought forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures”. (Jam 1.18) In other words, just as the offering of firstfruits represented all the grain still in the field, a believer represents many more people to whom God wants him to proclaim that same “word of truth.”
The Great Commission (Mat 28.18-20) makes it clear that no local church can fulfill it without sending others to do so on its behalf, as “all nations” cannot be discipled from one place.
Ephesians 4.11-16, which constitutes the mission statement for a local church, makes it clear that every member is a minister. The gifts God has made to a church—its leaders—are there to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”, not just to do the ministry themselves. If the ministry of a local church hinges on fulfilling the Great Commission (and it does), and if it can only do that by deputizing and sending others to do it (as it must), then equipping missionaries is a vital function of the local church.
Jesus predicts His three-phase strategy for reaching the world (Act 1.8) just before He leaves it to sit at the right hand of the Father. The first twelve chapters of Acts focus on what is happening in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Acts 13 opens with the launch of Phase III–the church at Antioch is the beginning of “the end of the earth.”
GOD’S HONEY-DO LIST
Acts 13 and 14 record the first missionary expedition by Barnabus and Saul, the two apostles of the Antioch church. The leaders of that church, a multi-ethnic body, are told by the Spirit to “Set apart…Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Act 13.2) Near the end of Acts 14, we see that the two missionaries return to Antioch, “where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled”. (v. 26, emphasis mine)
There’s only way for a man to know if everything on his “Honey-Do” list is finished. He has to know what’s on the list! (Well, maybe there’s another way—his wife will tell him.) If he doesn’t know what his work is, he’ll never know if he’s completed it. Barnabus and Saul knew what their work was, because they knew they’d finished it before returning to Antioch for furlough. If we move backward through Acts 14, we can determine the nature of the work for which the Spirit set them apart by seeing what it was they did: they “preached the gospel…and…made many disciples”, (v. 21) strengthened and encouraged the souls of the disciples, (v. 22) and “appointed elders for them in every church.” (v. 23)
We at BMW believe that these three components—evangelism, discipleship and leadership development—define the missionary enterprise in this age. At the end of the day, if new churches are not being established, what is going on cannot properly be called, “missions.” This is why our stated purpose for existence is to “serve the Lord and local churches by establishing reproducing churches through evangelism, discipleship and leadership development.”
This is why we’re doing that.
Rob Heijermans, Biblical Ministries Worldwide
Picture: The www.jakartapost.com