By President, Brian Sharp
If we really stop to think about it, everyone’s a missionary. Obviously, however, this is not to be understood in the narrow sense we’ve come to know it in our modern times. In the book of Acts and other places in Scripture, it becomes quite clear we’re all to be spreading the Word and love of Jesus Christ to non-Christians, non-followers of Jesus on a continual basis.
Although most of us know this, it’s important we remind ourselves regularly that our job is to constantly “reach out as we reach up.” Biblically, our priorities for ministry are fourfold:
Now, it’s a given that we’re all gifted by God in different ways so we minister according to the call and gifting we have (Ephesians 4:11-12; I Cor. 12, etc.). However, we must always keep our eyes on the big picture – the God’s-eye view – of how we fit in and contribute to the four essentials noted above.
- Praise and worship of our mighty God (Ps. 100, 150; John 4:24).
- Study and preaching of the Bible – God’s inerrant, powerful, eternal, living Word (II Tim. 3:14-17; Heb. 4:12).
- Reach out with the love of Jesus to those who have not heard and/or understood the Gospel message in order to win the lost (Luke 15:4, 19:10; Acts1:8; II Cor. 9:22).
- Make sure those who are saved become faithful disciples of Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20)
For example, my gifting and call is primarily pastor, as well as a significant measure of evangelist. However, I need to constantly remind myself that all four of the above priorities are critical and I should see that we are active in doing these in and through my church.
Because of certain time constraints and personal interests, it’s tempting for me to spend all my time focused only on the study and preaching of God’s Word, worshiping, writing, and caring for the born-again flock God has assigned to me. Then I come across where it says, “…go and make disciples…” (Matt. 28:19).
In response, I could rationalize this by saying, “Well, I am making disciples by teaching and caring for my congregation.” While this may be true to a degree, the real goal of making disciples is to make disciple-makers. In other words, if I’m not teaching, encouraging and providing opportunities for myself and my congregation to be actively mission-minded, I’m leaving out the foundational purpose of my call. I may not be specifically called to live in another country as a full-time missionary, but I certainly should be supporting missions on an on-going manner either by the actual doing of missions and/or supporting those who are doing it, both locally and internationally.
The fact remains, that just because a person received Jesus as their personal Savior and made a commitment to Him at some point in time, doesn’t necessarily mean that person is a disciple. By simple definition, disciple means “faithful follower, student of a teacher, learner.” Jesus discipled His disciples by teaching them, modeling for them what He taught, then sent them out to do what He’d been teaching and doing (Luke 9:1-2, 10:1-2). So, it follows that, Scripturally speaking, we’re not being a faithful disciple if we’re only learning but never going and supporting others who go.
Last August our Executive Director, Tim McKitrick, executive board member, Jim McCool and myself went to Africa to minister to WMF ministers and leaders. We taught, encouraged, and prayed for them, as well as preached in some local churches. Our short-term goal was to minister to WMF members’ immediate needs and strengthen our relationship with them. The long-term goal was and is to help them become strengthened and motivated to fulfill their God-given assignment as it fits into the big picture of making disciple-makers. The icing on the cake came in one local church service when Jim McCool gave an invitation to receive Jesus for the first time and several responded. Halleluiah!!! It’s now the task of that local church, as it is in all our churches, to make disciples out of those new believers.
I am proud to belong to an organization that sets such a high priority on missions. The “world” part of World Ministry Fellowship means our focus is continually sharpened by the Great Commission. In the God’s-eye view, making disciples begins at home, but it certainly doesn’t stop there!