Last summer we took ten weeks to journey together through “Starting Point,” a curriculum provided by the North American Mission Board. That study laid a basic foundation for missional engagement highlighting concepts such as Spiritual Formation, Bible Fluency and Relationships. Let me encourage you to get that material here if you do not have it already.
This summer we plan to take a similar ten-week sabbatical (May 29-July 31) from corporate Sunday night services to dive into another study together. This time, however, we are writing our own material around the Missionary Task. If you don’t have a copy of the IMB Foundations material, you can access it here.
For the last four months we’ve been thinking together about the six components of the task: Entry, Evangelism, Discipleship, Healthy Church Formation, Leadership Development and Exit. You can access those monthly letters here. I have attempted to show that the Missionary Task is not just for missionaries, but also for churches. It is a framework to which all church ministry should attach, thus creating a pipeline for making, moving, maturing and multiplying disciples,
Each component represents a core missional competency for the multiplication of the church (e.g., Discipleship – Teaching the Bible). Therefore, churches do well to train their people to be proficient for such work. As missionaries are proficiently trained in the elements of the task, so should every Christian be generally equipped to leverage their life on mission as well. The church becomes a body of local missionaries (please don’t miss that point), each equipped with the core competencies of multiplying their life and ministries.
But knowing the task is not sufficient for life change. The task must be applied. As we have learned from our study of Titus on Sundays, information + application = transformation. We therefore need some vehicle to apply the task to our life. Enter this intentional, strategic summer series. A time where we attempt to put flesh on the bone so to speak, applying the Missionary Task to our lives. In the end, we hope our study produces the fruit of a more missional posture of life.
For this summer starting May 29th, we’ll focus on the first two components of the Missionary Task: Entry and Evangelism. To capture the essence of each, we’ll rename these components as “Building Relationships” and “Sharing the Gospel.” Let me share a content preview of each week as you prepare for the summer.
Part 1 – Building Relationships
Ministry is all about relationships. I heard a church planter once say, “We want to build bridges of grace strong enough to hold the weight of truth.” I heard another pastor in a hard-to-reach inner city context say, “We want to serve our way in.” That’s the idea, but you don’t have to be a church planter to make relationships. God wants you to invest in those already in your life. Those at the ball game, in your neighborhood, alongside you in the school or office — they are your mission field.
Week 1: The People Business
Jesus had many reputations. He was known, for example, to be a “friend of sinners,” (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34). That tagline captured the essence of his heart and ministry. Jesus was about his Father’s business (Luke 2:49), and therefore was in the people business. For Jesus, as for us, people are the ministry.
Week 2: Knowing Your Neighbors
The Gospels are chock-full of divine appointments (cf. John 4). God has a way of arranging the circumstances of life to achieve his desired will, even down to where we live. He has us in specific places for special purposes. Look around, be spiritually and relationally aware. God knows our address and we should too. Your neighbor may just be your next prayer partner.
Week 3: Hospitality God’s Way
Sometimes a person’s home can be their greatest tool in ministry. We, after all, are common men who serve a common Savior. It’s interesting to note how ministry and meals often go together. It was that way for Jesus, and so it is still today. Whether it’s a spare bed, a seat at the table, or a place to meet, your home can be a haven.
Week 4: Follow Ups and Invites
“No one ever called, no one ever asked.” May the lost never say those words when they reflect on the Christians in their lives. We do well to remember the most effective advertisement is still “word of mouth.” The same is true for inviting people to Christ and the church. John records, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come,’” (Rev. 22:17).
Week 5: Who’s Your One?
God uses people to bring other people to his Son. “Philip found Nathanael,” for example (John 1:45). Disciples make disciples, one at a time. Advancing the gospel doesn’t have to be hard, but it does need to be personal. Take time to invest in one person. Everyone knows someone who doesn’t know Jesus.
Part 2 – Sharing Jesus
The English word “gospel” comes from the Old English word “good (or God) + spell (or story).” The word translated “gospel” in the NT is actually the Greek word euangelion (εὐαγγέλιον) which means, “good news,” that is, “(eu) good (angelion) news.” We transliterate that word into our English word “evangelism” which means to share the good news, or “gospel.”
Most followers of Jesus have never led a person to saving faith in Jesus. It’s hard to believe when Jesus’ final marching orders were to “Go, and make disciples.” These next five weeks are strategically designed to equip disciples to share the gospel and move new disciples into waters of baptism.
Week 6: Defining the Evangel
First things first. We must be on the same page. We must get it right. Jesus died for sinners. He lived a holy and righteous life and died the death we deserved, then God raised him from the dead. “For God so loved the world,” John records, “that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Week 7: How to Share the Gospel
Knowing the gospel and sharing the gospel are two different things. It takes strategy, intentionality, but most of all a desire for people to meet Jesus. If we’re honest we do tend to talk about those whom we love most. Many want to share the good news of Jesus, but they simply don’t know how. This week aims to provide some remedies.
Week 8: Conversational Apologetics
“But what do I say if…”—so says the reluctant evangelist. Fair enough, but it can’t be an excuse to not share the gospel. Rather, Christians need to know how to confidently talk about Jesus with unbelievers. Knowing answers to common questions will fuel your evangelism and help you navigate your next gospel conversation with joy.
Week 9: Leading Someone to Christ
Some sow the seed, others water the ground, but some reap a harvest (1 Cor. 3:6). Sooner or later, you’ll have an opportunity to lead someone to Christ. “For all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13) God can and will use you as a means of shifting someone’s eternal destiny. Let’s prepare for that moment today.
Week 10: Talking About Baptism
Baptism is a specific act of public profession in obedience with Christ’s command. The NT distinguishes baptism from salvation but does not separate it from salvation. Part of leading someone to Christ is knowing how to help them take his or her first step of following Jesus—believer’s baptism.
Life in Community
Like last summer, this study will be online based (no Sunday night gatherings). We’ll deliver content to you on two platforms: print and video media. First, a one-page lesson and discussion guide will be available each week, suitable for individual or group use. Second, a short video will launch at the start of the week highlighting key features of the lesson and pertinent applications. Be sure to get both via our website.
As you study, let me encourage you to do so in groups. If you are interested in opening your home for just one night a week, please contact Pastor Tommy at email@example.com with a time and date you’d like to meet (it doesn’t have to be Sunday night!). Remember, theology is best learned in community. Leverage your summer and your home for growing in the Missionary Task.
As John 20:21 tells us, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’”
Happy summer, church. Blessings to you.