Coaching Catalyst and Missionary Discover & Assessment director, Converge International Ministries
Point Magazine // Fall 2017
Neil Moyer, an elder of our church, and I began our missions trip visiting missionaries in Makassar, a large city in Indonesia. Makassar has a population of 1.5 million and about 2 million motor scooters.
A few days later, Neil and I found ourselves in remote Papua New Guinea visiting the first family our church, Crosswalk Community, had ever sent to overseas missions.
Before turning in one evening, a missionary asked if I would like to take the next day’s mission helicopter flight. My adventurous side leapt with excitement, and I jumped on that opportunity. Little did I know we would be delivering a tribe’s first set of Bibles translated in their language.
When we landed, everyone came to meet us. The tribespeople were elated to receive the Bibles, hugging each other in celebration. I found it extremely moving. Later, as we flew over dozens of villages in the mountains and hills, it struck me that God has people in each village and tribe he wants to reach with his love and fame (Rev. 5:9). With this realization, I knew I could never again view missions as I had.
Why send missionaries?
Before our missions trip, some of our people often questioned our using so much of our resources to send missionaries. “There is so much to do here,” they protested. “Isn’t it better for them to reach and teach their own?” As their pastor, I tried to find what was behind their objections and sought the answer in Scripture.
Throughout the Bible we are told to “be fruitful, multiply (not just add) and fill the earth.” Genesis 11:1-9 shows what happens when people don’t obey. Rather than gather to scatter, they gather to make a name for themselves. That’s glory hijacking.
Unfortunately, we can do the same in our churches. But God has an unimaginable desire to see his glory fill the earth. From Genesis through Revelation, this passion is expressed. There can be no doubt he is a sending God. John 3:16 tells us God so loves the world that he gave (sent) his only Son.
Scripture also tells us that going, or sending, is a natural response to the Spirit-filled life. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When we ask the Holy Spirit to fill and lead us, he stirs within us a passion to share God’s name, his honor and fame. The Holy Spirit is always witnessing about Jesus.
In his book Western Christians in Global Mission, Paul Borthwick claims 90 percent of professing evangelicals will never share Jesus with anyone. What does this say about our relationship to the Holy Spirit?
Another major reason to send workers into missions work is found in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10: “We make it our aim to please the heart of God.” Crosswalk Community has found God is pleased when we enjoy taking his fame across the street and around the world.
David Sills of Reaching and Teaching says there is one trained pastor for every 250 people in the U.S. But there is about one trained pastor for every 455,000 people outside the U.S. The Scripture and the world’s urgent need to hear the gospel convinced Crosswalk to be a sending church.
Missional-minded and missional-hearted advice
In developing our missions leadership team, we adopted guidelines from OMF and from the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course. In these, six words are key: Learn. Pray. Go. Send. Welcome. Mobilize. Here’s how we try to put them into practice at Crosswalk:
We began to see “crazy cycles” that help move us from addition to multiplication. Here’s one: What people know is the greatest influence in how they feel, and how they feel is the greatest influence in what they do.
It plays out like this. The more passionate people are about God, the more they worship him. And the more they worship him, the more missional they become. Being more passionate about God means being more passionate about missions. As John Piper wrote in Let the Nations Be Glad, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”
We urge everyone to learn by reading missional books, taking the Perspectives course and going on short-term missions trips.
Each Sunday, we pray for a different people group. The 6:4 Fellowship is a great resource for this.
It’s helpful to take leaders on short-term missions trips. There is nothing like experiential knowledge. If its spiritual leaders can’t catch God’s heart for people groups, it will be difficult for the church to become missional. There is a big difference between a church with a missions ministry and a church that is missional. A missional church has a growing heartbeat to glorify God above all.
Converge helped us discover another crazy cycle: Starting, strengthening and sending. Many may argue about where to start this cycle. I believe it’s best to gather leadership and pray through that. We began by focusing on health rather than growth. We knew balanced things are healthy, and healthy things grow stronger. A church’s strength is not its keeping ability but its sending ability. We believe every follower of Jesus is a sender or is sent — sometimes both.
We experience great joy when missionaries return and share how God is using us to take the good news to others. It pours fuel on our gospel flames.
In five years, we have seen God send four couples from our church to missions. And we have another staff couple and a single person preparing to go soon. It seems as if God is putting most of our staff on a conveyor belt and sending them to different ethnicities. It is a joy to watch people go and to see God bring in new people. I call this “healthy circulation.”
Often, people pray for a movement within the church but not necessarily through the church. Now that we’ve settled the question of “sending,” we’re enjoying a circulation of missionaries through our church that is life-giving.
John Wright, Coaching Catalyst and Missionary Discover & Assessment director, Converge International Ministries
John Wright is a member of Converge International Ministries Mobilization & Training team, serving as a coaching catalyst and Missionary Discover & Assessment director. He is a former lead pastor at Crosswalk Community Church in Titusville, Florida.