“The church exists by missions, just as fire exists by burning.”
That famous quote from theologian Emil Brunner speaks volumes about what drives the people of God to do what they do and be who they are. We are, at the very least, a mission organization.
I write this a few days after returning from my own “mission trip” to Brazil. I had a blessed week serving in the Belem area in the Amazon valley of north Brazil, about 80 miles from the equator. It was a long trip, and there were some definite challenges for my old self, but I was blessed and I think the Lord used me in preaching and teaching His word and in sharing the gospel. I made some new friends, and was able to spend some profitable time encouraging some of the missionaries our church supports in Brazil, Bill and Becky Rowley of Believer’s Bridge.
I have to say, it is such a joy to be a part of a mission-focused church that takes seriously the Great Commission and Great Commandment, both locally and around the world. I am grateful to be “sent” by my church family, to bridge the geographical gap across a couple of continents and serve alongside those who are faithfully and sacrificially giving their lives in service of our Lord.
What is even better is that I am just one of many in our church family who regularly participate in missions. In the past few months, we have had folks from our church travel to several different foreign countries on at least three continents (not to mention, Oklahoma) to serve in the name of Jesus. That includes preaching the gospel to the lost, discipling new believers, providing support and care for needy orphans, and doing medical missions in destitute areas.
But international mission trips only scratch the surface of what our congregation is doing when it comes to missions. This past Tuesday night, a group from our church made their way to downtown Birmingham for the second time in nine days to serve dinner to the homeless men of the Firehouse Shelter. It wasn’t across the ocean, but it was living out kingdom ministry to “the least of these,” just as our Master commanded us to do.
And that’s not even mentioning the dozens of ministries and missionaries around the world with which our church partners, both with our prayers and our financial resources, to share the gospel, plant churches, and meet the needs of the orphan and widow. As you may know, our 2017-18 budget which was recently approved includes 17% off the top of our general offerings going straight to missions causes, administered by our Missions Team. And that doesn’t even include the special offering collected by our VBS kids in June, which went to help out a school in Uganda served by our own missionaries Ken and Marilyn Moore of African Children’s Mission.
Which brings us back to Brunner’s quote from above. He was saying, in essence, that a church that is not “on mission” is, well, whatever it is, it’s not really being a church. When we cease to be missional in our theology and our methodology, in how we think and in what we do, then we stop functioning as the New Testament church. We’re merely a social club, interested only in our own comfort and well-being. And that doesn’t look anything like the Biblical picture of the Body of Christ.
All of us have a role in our being a mission-focused body, whether it’s going, praying, giving or just living the gospel on your block every day. Thanks be to God that we’re doing that a little more each day. And thanks to each of you for your obedience in following Jesus.
I appreciate the opportunity you provided me to go to Brazil, and I count it a privilege to serve you–and serve with you–as the pastor of such a great church. I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to being back with you on Sunday.