By Ryan Shaw
Over the next series of articles, we want to explore the six distinctive roles of the Great Commission. Every believer has been redeemed to participate with Jesus in the fulfillment of His global purpose.
The six roles we will consider are the calling of (1) global intercessors, (2) senders/ givers, (3) mobilizers, (4) advocates, (5) welcomers and (6) message bearers and their teams.
Today, we want to focus attention on the calling of Message Bearer Teams. There is a great need globally of committed, perseverant, wholehearted message bearer teams proclaiming and demonstrating the Gospel of the Kingdom among the roughly 2.5 billion unreached people.
Yet the body of Christ globally is largely asleep to this great need. The Church’s spiritual eyes and ears are failing to see and hear the glorious threads of God’s global mission as the central purpose of the Bible.
Our pastors, teachers, and evangelists often neglect to reveal the centrality of global mission in Scripture while ignoring the purpose of God to train and equip believers to rightly align and participate.
In spite of these challenges, God’s global purpose presses on. Believers from many traditionally receiving missionary national backgrounds are seeing God’s mission purpose in Scripture, identifying the Spirit’s plan for them as a message bearer, receiving the spiritual and practical training needed and being sent out through indigenous organizations and ministries within their nations.
Let’s consider key pieces of the calling of Message Bearer Teams. These concepts help those going out to do so in the most effective way, serving Jesus faithfully while producing great fruit for the Kingdom of God.
An effective Message Bearer Team is committed to the following eight focal points:
1) Committed to an unreached/ unengaged people group and a particular subgroup.
Message Bearer Teams are going to places where few known believers and churches are. God has provided guidance and leading to a particular unreached group and then a subset of people within that overarching people group. This subset could be street kids, professionals, university students, factory workers, prostitutes.
2) Committed to staying long-term (minimum of 3-5 years).
Seeing the gospel take root among unreached people groups takes time. It requires the spiritual work of Jeremiah 1:10, “to root out, pull down, to destroy and throw down, to build and to plant.” We must be willing to stick with it in challenging times.
3) Committed to the long-term outcome of Church Planting Movements (CPM’s).
Scripture advocates the purpose of the Great Commission is gathering the full number of Gentiles (believers from all non-Jewish ethnic backgrounds) & believing Jews into the Kingdom of God. It also clarifies the primary mechanism for this gathering is reproducing thriving, spiritually vital and Great Commission oriented churches everywhere.
4) Committed initially to a strategic hub city to learn language and culture, planting initial house churches, then seeing these reproduced in areas around that city. Being led by God to strategic cities allows a Team to develop their initial CPM strategy. Then as the initiative takes root it can easily spread to outer cities and areas surrounding that strategic city.
5) Committed to identifying and utilizing strategic platforms serving society to gain credibility and build relationships. A Message Bearer Team will struggle without a relevant platform seen by the locals as bringing benefit to them. This is a key way to meet “persons of peace” and build relationships becoming a starting point of a Church Planting Movement.
6) Committed to contextualize (make the message relevant to the culture by using appropriate bridges) the Gospel. A failure to do this is often the biggest difference in seeing great fruit among the unreached. As much as possible we want to separate our culture from the Gospel. Instead, we get “into their shoes,” making the Gospel indigenous to their culture worldview.
7) Committed to communicate the whole message of the Gospel of the Kingdom, producing strong and faithful disciples, and not only a pet portion of it. See previous Abandoned Times articles on “The Gospel of the Kingdom” for details of the five categories included.
8) Committed to financial sustainability through gifts, abilities, businesses, professions and (depending on their home country’s economic situation) traditional support. Too many Message Bearer Teams are held back because of lack of financial support from churches, individuals, etc. We need to return to the Scriptural outlook of missions and money, recalling that Paul was never funded by any home church. He worked as a tentmaker while others on his ministry team had other financially sustaining trades. This is a Biblical way forward.