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Wednesday: God’s People: The Channels of Mission — 15 Comments

  1. Seventh-day Adventists spend a lot of money on church organisation and in terms of fulfilling God's mission it is only right to ask if God is getting value for money. And in that context, we all hear and indeed make many comments that the Church should be doing this and that to better fulfill its mission.

    The church is an easy target, especially for those of us who do not sit at the top of the pile and make management decisions. But, for those of us who are members of a local congregation, church is not about managing a monolithic organisation. It is about a mission within the horizon of our own influence.

    I love watching Grey-crowned Babblers (birds - for those readers who do not know me). They are social birds and are very funny to watch. I have seen a Babbler try to turn over a stick without success. They pull and pull, and like some human beings, they talk all the time they are doing it. They are joined by another and then another Babbler comes along and soon they have worked out that if they all pull in the same direction they will roll the stick over exposing the grubs and other insects that they like for breakfast. Then they share the spoils and off they go searching, helping and sharing.

    Their horizon of influence is a group of about a dozen birds and within that group, they are always helping and sharing (and apparently, to us humans, they are having a lot of fun doing it).

    I am not decrying church organisation or overseas missions. Spreading the Gospel to all the world is an important goal. But, living the Gospel in our own horizon of influence is a good place to start.

    In Acts we read the story of Jesus talking to the disciples about the Gospel commission:

    And another time when he appeared to them, they asked him, “Lord, are you going to free Israel from Rome now and restore us as an independent nation?”

    “The Father sets those dates,” he replied, “and they are not for you to know. But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection.” Acts 1:6-8 TLB

    The work began at home, in Jerusalem. And while the passage also provides a greater vision - getting the Gospel working in Jerusalem was where it all started.

    • Maurice - would you think it appropriate to consider what you call “the top of the pile” actually to be the “spearhead “ of the organized church? As long as ‘church members’ consider there to be a ‘hierarchy’ in place to ‘govern’ the church, they will wait until ‘motivation and strategy’ will trickle down from ‘the top of the pile’ to the rank and file members at the ‘lower’ level of this ‘pile’.

      A spearhead can be considered to be the tip of the effort of thrust and aim generated by the local Ecclesia which hurls it into the chosen direction to commence its action. The Ecclesia is the mission field as well as the missionaries; both states of spiritual maturing go hand in hand. If the flame has not been ignited in the heart, the spear carrying action will not be launched.

      To my understanding, all members of the Ekklesia stand on the mission field on equal footing, given equal power, and will bring fruit in due time according to God’s good graces. No one ‘sits on top of the pile’, can forge ahead on their own timing to implement their own plan; to be blessed and fruitful, all is being done in accordance with God’s plan.

      • I think your comment raises a number of issues about our relationship to church organisation. And I hope that during this series of lessons we discover how that relationship should work. A church organisation can obviously do things that we as individuals cannot do. But to get those things to happen we need people in management to provide direction and organisation. At the same time we must be conscious of our individual responsibilities in sharing the Gospel. We need to get the balance tight between organisation and collective mission with individual and personal action. We need one another, but that requires love and respect.

    • Hello Maurice,

      "Grey-crowned Babblers." I thought you were going to give an example of us old folk helping each other out. On second thought …

      ; )


  2. Related to our subject matter, Ellen White wrote in „The Desire of Ages“ p. 195:
    „ As soon as she found the Saviour the Samaritan woman brought others to Him.
    She proved herself a more effective missionary than His own disciples.
    The disciples saw nothing in Samaria to indicate that it was an encouraging field.
    Their thoughts were fixed upon a great work to be done in the future.
    They did not see that right around them was a harvest to be gathered.

    But through the woman whom they despised, a whole cityfull were brought to hear the Saviour. She carried the light at once to her countrymen.“

    People around us are buying into teachings mixed by truth and error, claiming „we need new truth for a new era“. So it‘s our highest mission to witness to them biblical truth about our wonderful Saviour and help them drink from that same well that refreshes the soul.

  3. Wow, what a definition of Mission, "Mission is to the church what air is to our lives." I want to fulfill this in my life. Would you? Because when we become a blessing to others, we are blessed. When we reach out to others, we are reached out by God. Simple concept: while we do good to others, we are the most beneficiated! Have a blessed day in the Mission God has specifically for you today!

  4. The mission commences with the power of influence. Whether we embrace this reality or not, we are constantly on display, sometimes as advocates for Christ and regrettably, at times, as detractors. Every action we take wields an impact. The only way to escape this would involve complete isolation from all external interactions, but even that, I believe, would constitute a form of influence in itself. The influence we exude has repercussions on those within our immediate circle. Those we engage with exert their influence on those within their circles, perpetuating the mission. It is crucial to acknowledge, however, that the mission bestowed upon us by God cannot be advanced passively. No, we must actively pursue the kingdom of God, integrating it into our daily lives and being mindful of our role. Each day, like Abram's journey, we must "go," and entrust the rest to God.

  5. I'm not sure what to make of the statement in the lesson that says "the church exists because God still has a mission to be fulfilled and is using the church to fulfill it."

    I definitely agree that mission is a key part of what it means to be a Christian and if we are in a relationship with Jesus, His priorities will be our priorities. But the statement that the church exists for mission almost makes it sound like we're just a means to an end for God. Surely there has to be more than that. Will not the church exist in eternity when there is no mission? Yes it will be different, but I feel a lot will stay the same.

    I find these lessons hard because they always seem to convey that God wants more and more from me and it seems nothing will ever be good enough for Him. As a member of a relatively small church, I hold several offices. I try my best to contribute in this way to God's work but there's always a question, "what more can you do?" Frankly, I'm feeling pretty stretched and I don't know how to give more. And then it feels like I really only have value to God if I'm doing mission which makes me feel pretty sad. There's got to be a better way to motivate people to get involved. Maybe most people don't feel like me, but I would guess some do.

    • Yes Christina, I feel the same as you. I too go to a very small church and hold multiple offices and at times feel burdened down because our church is aging out. Anyone that is able to take an office won't. They are consumers. They come, take a seat, listen to the message and leave. I wonder, if we can't motivate people in the church, how do we do mission out side the church. Our church is a mission field!

    • Christina, I understand your feeling of being overwhelmed with working in/for the church. My thoughts are the following:
      1. Make sure you take time to rest and refresh yourself. Jesus refreshed by taking time away and spending time with His father. Sometimes it is good to step back and reflect.

      2. Make sure you are engaged in those things the Holy Spirit has led you to do. Just because something is good to do, it does not mean that it is your job. You may be taking on roles that were intended for others.

      3. Do not let fatigue skew your view of God. You are so valueable to Him that Jesus would have died just for you.

  6. If you are holding several offices, I would say that you are already contributing to the mission of God. It’s also important to set boundaries so that you don’t break and become useless to God’s mission. In other words, it’s ok to say ‘no’ when asked to do something. Don’t worry what others may say or think. And always keep your purpose in prayer so that you are aligned with God’s purpose and will for your life. He will guide and lead you.

  7. Ladies, I have pastured your kind of Church. And I am so grateful for the faithfulness of the likes of you. Do not Weary of well doing. God is your leader and your strength and your reward! Remember Ephesians 5 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

    26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

    27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

    You are God's trophy. He is growing each of us into what He wants us to be -- for His own purposes.

    And even in heaven, we will be His missionaries, teaching angels and other worlds about the love, power and work He has put upon us. Being a missionary here is just the beginning. What a high and holy purpose to which he has called you! Do not weary. Look up. He is your strength. Remain one of the saints! Sons and daughters of God.


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