Reflections on Mission

As I get ready to head out for the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Baptist Conference, I find myself thinking about the upcoming vote that we’re going to take.  The vote concerns the new emphasis of the conference and how it is going to impact the ongoing relationship between the conference and the churches.  I find the conference (and Converge Worldwide) placing an extremely high emphasis on mission (singular)  and evangelism, which can be good.  Unfortunately it can also be a problem, because a stilted emphasis on evangelism can cause other aspects of ministry to be neglected or discarded.

I have been a part of three Baptist organizations now, and the ongoing trend seems to be this:  Existing church = worthless; Church plant = Godly.  The rationale behind this thought process is that existing churches simply do not or cannot reach people the way that church plants do.  That idea is born out statistically, and existing churches do need to place a priority on reaching people.  However, it is also a serious problem when a church or an organization makes evangelism the sole focus of its ministry.

Although I have some issues with “The Purpose Driven Church,” it does provide us with a decent framework for what a church is supposed to do Biblically:  fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry, and evangelism.  You may be familiar with the concept from reading “The Purpose Driven Life” (which I also have some methodological issues with).  Here is the point: evangelism is not the only aspect of a churches ministry, and to judge a church solely by that criteria is unBiblical.

A blog post got me thinking about this issue recently.  It is by a church planter who is successful, and feels like he has neglected some aspects of church life and ministry along the way.  His post is entitled Church Planters and Missionalotry.

Reflections on the last few weeks…

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)

What a month!  It all stated with what I thought was severe gout, but actually turned out to be a foot infection.  That, coupled with a sinus infection and some severe migraines kept me feeling pretty bad for a couple of weeks.  In fact, for the first time I actually had to preach while “under the influence” — I had to take some migraine medication to get through Sunday morning.  Unbelievably, that morning was also the morning of our “thrice annual business meeting!”

Then, in what will be likely remembered for a generation, was “the storm.”  Wind gusts up to 69 miles an hour.  Trees down.  Power outages that lasted for serveral days for many people.  But it gave us a chance to minister!  We fed and warmed about 35 church related and 15 non-churched people that weekend.

Another church meeting, a call to fill in at a Bridges event, changes to our Youth program, filling in at Sunday School…I’m waiting for that after summer slow down!  Maybe in January!

We never know what the future may bring.  We can have it in our heads that one thing will happen a particular way, and it may end up being entirely different!  That’s why I try to remember the above passage, as well as what it says in Acts 16:6-7: Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

How often are our schedules rearranged by God Himself so that we can accomplish something or something more for His kingdom?  Do we really believe that God allows things to happen to us because of something we have to do or to learn?  How frequently do we get aggrevated by our circumstances when they are God ordained and we need to pay attention to His leading?

It seems trite, but we should always remember that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  I know that it’s a lesson that I need to keep reminding myself of…

…especially since the pace of our lives continues to go at breakneck speed.  This weekend we have Fall Fest and we are helping Val’s parents with their basket booth.  Upcoming minstry events include the GLBC annual meeting, a working vacation (where I officiate at my nephew’s wedding), the possibility of some new ministries starting, two church wide dinners…whew!  We’ll see what lessons and surprises God may have in store for us in the weeks ahead.