The Spirit of God seems to be escalating the ministry of mission mobilization1 across the global Church. Particularly within the “global south” body of Christ (emerging sending movements from traditionally mission receiving nations primarily in the southern hemisphere).
Along with this exciting trend is also coming more understanding related to the breadth of mission mobilization God intends within churches and denominations.
This includes understanding mobilization as not merely “recruiting laborers,” but God’s appointed means to enable the whole church to embrace her core corporate identity as God’s multiplying, reproducing, missionary people. This means “mission mobilization” is meant to be broader and more comprehensive than once thought.2
Based on these truths, a key question to be asking is what is necessary to encourage denominations and local ministries to progress in practical mobilization.
One of the answers can be found tucked within the somewhat obscure two chapters of 1 Chronicles 13 and 15. 1 Chronicles 13 is about David seeking to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem but not doing so according to God’s ways.
David had a desire to bring the Ark to Jerusalem and commenced with a plan accordingly. David’s desire and heart were right, but he didn’t follow God’s order set forth in the Law for transporting the Ark.
As a result, Uzzah, a priest, who stuck out his hand to steady the Ark when the oxen stumbled, was killed. His death has a profound message for us today. We are to give careful attention to following God’s ways, His “order” in bringing about His purposes. Not bypassing His ways in preference of our own.
King David, in 1 Chronicles 15, learning from his mistake, proceeded again to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. This time doing so properly giving careful attention to God’s Law, overcoming the neglect which characterized his first attempt. This principle is reinforced throughout Scripture as God seeks for His people to not only do His work, but to do it His way.
Much of mission mobilization traditionally has been done by mission organization representatives, recruiting workers from local churches for their organizations. This meant they were generally outsiders to the specific churches and ministries. These individuals are often misunderstood by local ministry leaders. We call this “mobilization from the outside.”
But what if God had another way? A way that cooperated with the Biblical principles of how He has set up His Kingdom, specifically surrounding the issue of spiritual authority through appointed leadership in the churches.
We know God sets leadership in place for the churches. As well as for entire church networks and denominational structures (Ephesians 4:11-12). He has given these leaders a measure of His own spiritual authority to lead, guide and equip the saints to do the work of ministry, including mission. This includes emphasizing mission mobilization tools, principles and strategies being implemented within their ministry structures.
This understanding of God’s “order” then appears to imply that much of mission mobilization belongs within the churches through spiritual leadership embracing, implementing and integrating the focal point of the Great Commission. Not as a side issue or department but the chief end of why the Church exists.
The Holy Spirit is dynamically committed to helping spiritual leaders, who are at every level of church and denominational leadership, embrace and develop their own calling in the mission mobilization of the Church. In this way, mission mobilization is brought into the mainstream of every local ministry’s emphasis and expression. This is God’s “order.”
We don’t find in the New Testament the dichotomy we so often find today of local ministries neglecting an emphasis on mission mobilization within them. In contrast we find significant mobilization examples through the ministries of Jesus, Paul and John.
As the founder and owner of the Church, Jesus commissioned all His followers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). He repeated the same in Acts 1:8, instructing that the Holy Spirit will lead/mobilize the entire church to be Christ’s witnesses to all nations and the ends of the earth. Therefore, spiritually conscious leadership, mindful of their Master’s will, will be implementing mobilization within their churches.
Paul wrote many letters (epistles) to various churches including Ephesus (Ephesians 4:11-12), providing guidance and encouragement towards mission work. He encouraged the leadership of the churches to take the responsibility of teaching sound doctrine which honors Jesus and His Great Commission.
John also played a part in mission mobilization efforts, particularly in his later years. In the book of Revelation, what Christ shows John are the instructions, warnings, encouragements, and reminders for the Church to be mission conscious so that we can see the great multitude representing every ethnic family before the throne of God (Rev. 7:9).
Therefore, spiritual leaders are meant to help provide an atmosphere within local ministries where believers are consistently confronted with God’s heart and plan for the nations through Bible studies, prayer groups, information sharing about many aspects of mission and much more.
Through this, the whole church can be mobilized into a variety of roles in the Great Commission and an ever-increasing number are being sent out as message bearer3 teams to both near and distant culture unreached people groups.
Cooperating with God’s order in mission mobilization thus seems to include enabling, equipping and coaching spiritual leaders who have been given spiritual authority over the churches to implement mission mobilization tools, principles and strategies into the life of their local ministries.4
For a larger ministry structure, like a denomination or church network, cooperating with God’s order means implementing a plan and strategy5 that, over time, enables every local ministry within that structure, to be equipped to create an atmosphere within where believers are consistently growing in the Great Commission element of our calling as the corporate Church of Christ.
- Mission mobilization needs to be understood as a viable “ministry entity” in its own right, not only connected to the “ministry” of cross-cultural mission. It is a stand-alone ministry with its own purposes, objectives, meant to equip the body of Christ to embrace her core calling in the Great Commission. ↩︎
- To learn more about this broader, more comprehensive understanding of mobilization, please see the author’s book called Rethinking Global Mobilization here, an excellent handling about mission mobilization. ↩︎
- This is an alternative term for missionary, with less historical and cultural baggage and controversy. ↩︎
- More about mobilization tools, principles and strategies can be found in the Handbook for Great Commission Ministries here. ↩︎
- To learn more about this plan and strategy see the Mission Mobilization Movements Facilitation Manual here. ↩︎