By Michael Wagner
Michael is the president of the SMF (Student Missionary Fellowship) at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL.
Jesus commanded us to go to all nations to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), but practically, how can this be done? The magnitude of that command can be overwhelming.
It is ultimately God’s work, He is sovereign, and what He purposes He performs, including using us to bring people into relationship with Him like He commanded. It is God’s Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead that is at work within us to complete this task (Romans 8:11).
Nevertheless, how is this done in practice? Are the paradigms and models used for global proclamation in the past still most effective for today? The Biblical principles are everlasting and God’s power at work in us is ever present, but how must we do global mission in order to most effectively reach the unreached in this generation?
This is one question which we must constantly be asking God, history, and ourselves in order to most effectively reach the nations.
When you hear the word ‘missions’ you may immediately picture a lonely character standing aboard a sea bound ship, duffle bag on one side, coffin on the other. “Won’t see him again,” you think, “and if I do he’ll look the same as when he left.
Not a bad thought, except that three decades of fashion will have elapsed since his first departure.” This may not be the picture in your mind, but what is? What in your understanding of global mission are Biblical concepts and principles and what is based in false stereotypes and misconceptions?
Look to God to help you wade through the Scriptures and invite the Holy Spirit to reveal and ingrain in you a correct Biblical perspective of doing cross-cultural mission in our day.
We must also listen to the whisper of global mission history. What blunders and victories whisper and even shout to us today? What has worked and what has not? What methods must we continue and which must we do differently?
The Crusades roared of an erroneous grasp of global mission while the sacrifice of Jim Elliot echoes eternally of the salvation of many. Many great saints have worked as translators, teachers, doctors, farmers, or athletes.
What ideas can we learn from those who sent, who prayed, and who went? Read the books and listen to the stories. Let’s gain wisdom and insight from the past to be most effective today.
Finally, we must be creative. God has not only commanded us to go to the nations, but to be creative in doing so. Just because something worked for somebody in the past, does not necessarily mean it is best for the people God wants you to reach now.
The Bible gives us principles to expound upon, but I believe God did not give us specifics of how the disciples reached various peoples in order to free us from a formula to follow to proclaim the Gospel in a certain way.
In His amazing design, He saw best to let us also implore creativity in the work of the Gospel. Creativity in the way we support and send workers, and creativity in how the work is accomplished. What paradigm and form is most effective for us today to complete the Great Commission?
Look to God, listen to history, and be creative. God has ordained the nations to know Him – and us to make Him known. We rethink missions with assurance that He will lead us to be most effective.
We labor knowing that He always performs what He purposes, that through us, people from every nation and tribe and people and tongue would be gathered before the Lamb saying,
“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb (Revelation 7:10).”