Have Yourself a Missionary Conference
A number of years ago, a pastor whom I had met as a student called me to ask if I could come to his church in Maine and speak at a missions conference. I was to be overseas that week, and had to decline the invitation. He told me he would check again to see if it would be possible another time.
Some months later, he called back. “Trent, “ I said, “it looks like the only time I have free is right before Christmas, and I doubt your people would be interested in a missions conference then.”
“Actually,” he said, “I can’t think of a better time for a missions conference. Let’s do it.”
He was right. We did it. It was a great conference.
At this time of year, Christians become preoccupied with an event that is not mandated by Scripture and is fueled by romanticism, commercialism, secularism, and paganism.
I have no problem with celebrating the birth of Christ. None at all. I love Handel’s “Messiah” and Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio.” I like turkey and cranberries. I give special gifts to the people I love. I cherish time with my family. I like the smell of fir trees and baked goods. I enjoy times of quiet contemplation and nighttime walks in the snow. I love reading the account of Jesus’ birth. But none of these things has any real bearing on the Incarnation.
Why was my friend right about Christmas and a missions conference? I believe it can be boiled down to one word.
Paul writes, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4.4)
Jesus is described as “the apostle and high priest of our confession” in Hebrews 3.1. God the Father sent Jesus. Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20.21) A few years later in Antioch, the elders of the church there laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul and “sent them off.” (Acts 13.3) Churches have been doing that ever since.
Later, Paul wrote, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”
Are you looking for an innovative, poignant way to celebrate Christmas with your congregation—reallycelebrate it?
Have yourself a missionary conference.
Rob Heijermans, BMW
Picture: courtesy www.oakdalechurch.org