Becoming a Twenty-First Century Sending Church

Mission leader and pastor, Mark Stachura said, “The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.” Every church should be a sending church. The standard model of a sending church is found in Acts 13. After fasting and praying, the church in Antioch sent out their two most capable ministers in obedience to the Holy Spirit. What does a sending church look like today?

A sending church is led by the Spirit of God

Acts 13:2 says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” In this day and age our own church programs and plans seem to take precedence over missions. It is important to realize that the church at Antioch took the initiative in being led by God. The above verse says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted…” Simply put, they sought God! The Word of God is clear in this regard. Hebrews 11:6b says, “…he (God) is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Furthermore, it wasn’t just Barnabas that was seeking; it was the entire leadership of the church. A sending church is one that seeks God and is led by the Spirit of God.

A sending church is obedient to the Spirit of God

Acts 13:3 says, “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” I believe that God has missionary candidates in every local church that He desires to send out. Some never hear the call, while others hear it but do not heed it. The church at Antioch was in tune to the needs of their community and the world. The talk in the foyer after church was predominately spiritual talk and that of meeting the needs of the world (Acts 11:27-30) not the upcoming football season. This environment fostered a heart to serve and to give; a heart that was obedient to the Spirit of God. It is no surprise, then, that this church immediately sent out their very best in obedience to the Spirit of God.

A sending church participates with the Spirit of God

After Paul and Barnabas’ first term planting churches in Asia Minor they came home for a furlough. Acts 14:26-28 says, “And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.” The church in Antioch yielded their beloved Barnabas and Saul to the Lord, but their missionaries were never far from their heart. They prayed for them often, and they rejoiced to see how God used two of their own throughout Asia Minor. And then, during the missionary team’s furlough, they loved on them and ministered with them and to them (Acts 15:3,35). Wherever Paul traveled he expected believers to participate with him (Acts 21:5, Romans 15:24, 1 Corinthians 16:6). The Apostle John also encouraged participation in missions in 3 John 5-8.

Today opportunities to participate with the Spirit of God in missions abound. Our standard of living enables many to give generously to missions. The Internet, printing press, radio and other forms of communication equip many believers to support the work of God in powerful ways. Our modern day technology keeps us in constant contact with our missionaries, and modern travel encourages shot-term missionary trips. Every local church should be a sending church! Oswald J. Smith said it succinctly when he said, “The mission of the church is missions.” We will be a sending church if we are led of the Spirit, when we obey the Spirit and when we participate with the Spirit of God. “The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become,” Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia.

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Prevent Roadside Breakdowns From Becoming Disasters: Prepare an Emergency Kit

I begin by encouraging you to prepare an emergency kit to carry in your vehicle. Over a span of fifty years I have traveled a million ground-miles on three different continents—driving most of it myself. A wide range of unexpected situations have occurred. Besides numerous flat tires, I’ve also dealt with engine compartment fires and several electrical system malfunctions while out in the middle of nowhere, just to mention a few. I am thankful that in nearly every situation the problem was corrected in less than an hour. I attribute that to two things. First, God’s good hand being upon me. Secondly is the fact that I try to keep an emergency kit in the vehicle at all times. So, I present the following list of items one should carry in their vehicle to help with common roadside emergencies.

Photo of car pulling trailer

A Basic Emergency Kit

  1. Extra fluids: Different kinds of fluids are used to lubricate and/or cool a vehicle’s engine and transmission. In each case the various fluids are contained in the right location through the use of gaskets and rubber seals. When a gasket or seal fails it allows fluid to leak out. If you’re prepared, you go to your emergency kit, grab the correct bottle and use it to top up the necessary reservoir until you can get the leak repaired. Here are some extra fluids to carry:
    • One or two quarts (liters) of engine oil.
    • At least a half-gallon of coolant.
    • One quart of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) if your vehicle has an automatic transmission.
    • It could prove helpful to have a pint of brake fluid and some power steering fluid too.
  2. Assorted electrical fuses: Fuses are designed to fail so they can protect expensive electrical parts from being damaged by electrical malfunctions. For example, on a fuel pump circuit, a twenty-cent fuse is supposed to burn out first in the event of an electrical overload. This is done so as to protect the very expensive fuel pump from burning out. The repair might be as simple as replacing the fuse; so, having some assorted fuses could help you from being stranded on the side of the road.
  3. Emergency tow strap: A tow strap s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s when pulling another car. Using a chain is okay but it causes a very hard jolt when pulling since chains don’t stretch.
  4. Old serpentine belt or fan belt. When putting a new serpentine belt or fan belt on your engine, look at the old one before you discard it. If it is not broken or falling apart throw it in your emergency box as a spare; even new belts occasionally fail or get damaged.
  5. A working jack. Be sure to have the correct jack-handle and lug-wrench. See if there is any kind of locking lug nut present that would prevent your wheel from being stolen. If so, be sure you have the key for removing it and that it gets stored in the same place every time.
  6. Check the spare tire. Your car might have the spare stored up underneath the vehicle. If so you should make a “dry run” and lower it. This will confirm that the retaining mechanism will actually release when you need it to. Occasionally check the air pressure in the spare.
  7. A reflective triangle or signal flare.
  8. A good set of jumper cables.
  9. Good flashlight along with some spare batteries.
  10. A fire extinguisher with an ABC rating can be used for electrical as well as oil-based fires.
  11. Ground-cover: something to put on the ground when you must lie down and look underneath the vehicle. A plastic shower curtain or large piece of cardboard works well.

Having an emergency kit during a breakdown could mean the difference between being stranded on the roadside—perhaps for several hours—or whether you get rolling again after a short delay. Most of these items can be purchased for $100 and can fit into a medium sized box.

I encourage you to put together a vehicle emergency kit and PREPARE TO MEET THY EMERGENCY.

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Training School: God’s Glory, Our Excellence

It is time for our annual training school. This year’s theme is God’s Glory, Our Excellence. Our key verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Every year we try to edify and encourage our missionaries, while at the same time educate our newer missionaries in financial reporting, policy and taxes. This year 13 Deaf and hearing missionaries are traveling to attend. These missionaries represent countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

Pastor Mark Campbell of Faith Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Jack Bufkin of Legal Shield, Richard McMillen of Pulpit and Pew Finances and Pastor Ronald Kuhns of Gospel Lighthouse Baptist Church will be our special guests.

Please pray for this week. We may make some of these sessions available via video or audio. Stay tuned!

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Solving Problems While Heathen Watch

And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

—Genesis 13:7

Abram and Lot—the main characters in chapter thirteen—were recent arrivals to this region which was heavily populated with idol worshipers. As acquaintances were made, the local residents found out that these men were strange indeed; they had no idols of any kind, and had no regard for man-made deities! If their curiosity drove them to the point of asking Abram, “In whom or what do you trust for protection? Who or what do you worship in order to be blessed and prosperous?”, they would have been given an abstract answer, “My God cannot be seen by men’s eyes; He is invisible, I worship Jehovah.”

In the previous paragraph notice the word abstract. My guess is that idol worshipers don’t easily comprehend an invisible, untouchable deity; after all, they can actually see and touch theirs. As problems and needs arise in the life of an idol worshiper they go before their deity, follow a specified ritual and expect their god will take care of the matter. This illustrates an important principle of how the world walks by sight, not by faith which is the opposite of a Jehovah worshiper. Instead of abstract words it might carry more weight to have an actual, visible demonstration that Abram’s invisible God was in fact real and willing to work on Abram’s behalf.

With that in mind we look at verse seven again and see that it tells us there was contention and strife between God’s people. Even true believers do not have some magical immunity against problems in their human relationships. However, it should always be remembered that the world watches us as we work through our problems. The way in which our conflicts are resolved should demonstrate the nature of the One Whose name we bear. That is what makes our text so significant: the idol worshiping Canaanites and Perizzites couldn’t figure out how Jehovah worshipers resolved their problems since they didn’t have charms, fetishes or use any kind of tangible objects.

In the previous chapter (Genesis 12:10-20) Abram had learned a shameful lesson of what happens when we lean on our own understanding. Pharaoh, seeing that Abram relied on deception, sent him out of the country. Could it be that the Egyptian head of state said to someone nearby, “If that is how Jehovah worshipers deal with people, I hope I never meet another one!”

There are many places to apply these thoughts but I am thinking especially of cross-cultural situations where missionaries dwell among heathen people. So, when missionaries are dealing with people problems—for example, national pastors or even other missionaries—the locals need to see how the One Whom we represent can solve problems without using charms, cultural mechanisms or physical force. We must remember that we live among the Canaanite and Perizzite—they are watching. Let our conduct be the means by which they see that the Spirit of God and the Truth of God’s Word can solve any kind of dispute. This is as much a part of making disciples of Jesus Christ as to stand before them and preach a sermon.

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The Focus of Your Love

…Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?…

—John 21:15

Christ asked three times in John 21 if Peter loved Him. In verse 15 the question was whether Peter loved Him “more than these.” We’ve probably heard various explanations for what Christ meant by the word “these.” Some say it is a question of Peter’s love compared to the love that the other disciples had for the Lord. Or whether Peter loved Christ more than he loved the fish they had just caught. Or possibly whether he loved the Lord more than the other disciples did. More generally, I have heard pastors talk about whether Peter loved Christ more than the secular work in which he was engaged.

I think those are all good topics to speculate about and to draw meaning from; however, I would like to draw your thoughts to the idea that Christ was challenging Peter to focus his love on the Lord more than just doing ministry for ministry’s sake. Christ asked Peter to feed His sheep. Peter was asked to do ministry as a result of his love for the Lord.

Called to Love

It is encouraging to hear a veteran missionary talk about the work the Lord has called him to do. They often talk about the love they have for the people, country and culture to whom they are called to minister. Not only is it encouraging to hear from veterans, but it also offers a challenge to us to check and see if we are in love with the ministry the Lord has called us to do.

Sometimes, doesn’t it feel a bit empty for a new missionary to talk passionately about the love they have for the people and culture of the place they are called to serve? They have yet to fully experience the challenges of doing the ministry in a new place or culture. There is no doubt that young missionaries should have a zeal for the work of God. Yet, I propose that above focusing on loving the country and culture, the missionary should focus on loving God first and then a love for the people will follow.

If your love for the Lord is strong then He will help you to love the people to whom you are called.

Having lived in Mexico for a few years, there are many things I love about the country, culture and people. At least I can say that now. But the day I stood in line for 7 hours at the Mexican DMV to get a license plate for a recently purchased car was not a day I was feeling great love for the system. Even less so that night when I was complaining about it in church and a man praised the Lord on my behalf because it went so quickly for me.

There are days that a missionary may not love the country to which he is called. There are moments when he will question whether he has enough love for the people. Yet, if he will remember that he is called to love the Lord first, then his love for the people will grow.

Do You Love Cats?

Let me remind you of the illustration of a little girl who found a stray cat and immediately fell in love. Her daddy had no interest or love for the cat. But as days went by and he saw the love that his child had for the pitiful creature, he too began to love the stray. This love for the creature grew because of his love for the little girl. Because he loved her, he began to love the things that she loved.

It is a simple illustration, but certainly we can learn from this. If you will love God supremely, then you will develop a love for the people that God loves.

Challenge to Young Missionaries

I know that you are excited about your ministry—as well you should be—but don’t neglect to develop your love for the Lord. As your love for the Lord and the things of God grows, you will love those around you properly.

It is possible to develop an unhealthy love for the mission field and ministry. Though we don’t often think of these things as idolatry, you can easily misplace your love for the Lord into people, places and projects. You will then create an idol that steals your focus from the Lord. That is an unhealthy spiritual situation for you and can lead those around you into an unhealthy, or false, relationship with God.

Life on the mission field is filled with stories of victories that you see in the lives of people as the Lord works. There are also great experiences that you will cherish your entire life. But there are also challenges on the field. Going to the field “because I love the people” is very shallow and will not help keep you in the ministry. Because there will be some days that you find it difficult to love the people on the field. For myself, there were times that I did not love the people of Mexico. Yet if you will put your focus on loving God first, then when things get tough on the field you will be there for the right reasons.

Pray and Love God Supremely

Church member, pray for the missionaries you support and encourage them in their spiritual growth. Missionaries are very much like the people in your church. The things you struggle with, the missionary struggles with. The challenges you face daily, the missionary faces. Yet the missionary is going through all of this while on the front lines of the ministry, while in a foreign land, while missing the comforts of home, while battling the forces of Satan for the souls of men. Missionaries need your prayers and encouragement to do the work.

Missionary, love Christ supremely and you will be able to love the people He has called you to.

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