Revitalised in Witness – how the local Church can Support Believers ‘sent’ into the World (Pt 4)

WHATMEKeith Jobberns – our National Director shares about ways the local church can support believers sent into the world as agents of transformation.

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Did you catch the look of incredulous surprise on the face of the guy sitting on the park bench in our recent Easter video?  He suddenly realizes that God has chosen to use him to reach others for Jesus.

Why is he so surprised?

What has happened to our understanding of mission that realising that all Jesus followers are “sent” by God is a new revelation?cYes we have too often outsourced mission and outreach as the video suggests and have diluted down the call to mission to just a select few.

This stands in such sharp contradiction to our Baptist story in Australia and overseas. A story of creative witness in many diverse contexts that is such a rich one. We trace our inspiration to being sent out to bear witness with creativity back to way of Jesus, the early church and the creativity of our God as demonstrated in the Scriptures.

Being sent is at the core of God’s mission, highlighted in the sending of His own Son and so clearly understood by the early church. Of the multiple examples let just highlight one.

Luke in his inspired account of the sending out paradigm of the early church in Acts 11:19f provides an understated narrative of a local church in action at Antioch.

As Luke records it, some unnamed people, ”men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.” Understanding that their commitment to Jesus meant they had to go out, they were instrumental in the establishing the first non-Jewish local faith community.

This ‘sending out’ paradigm is so imbedded in the ethos of this local faith community, that it comes as no surprise that they participate so energetically in another significant “sending out” moment in the mission of God.

As Luke records in Act 13, this same community of believers – inspired by the prompting of the Holy Spirit affirmed Barnabas and Saul in their call to be sent out – So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

And this initiated another stage in the movement that was to see the transformative message of Jesus impacting “all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)

The Church when it is authentically the Church is always a sending community. Sadly however the guy in the park bench characterises the lack of awareness of many believers of God’s purpose to use them to share the message of Jesus.

I find myself asking the question, what would it take for my local church to help believers like him understand that as s/he goes out into their daily life activities at work, in the community – s/he is in fact being sent as an agent of transformation?

What would it take? Let me offer five suggestions that would be part of the list:

1. A commitment by the local church to make mission its core business as directed by the Holy Spirit.

2. A strategy by the local church to strengthen the local believers to believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. To fortify their confidence in the Gospel.

3. A strategy by the local church to equip the local believers to be more competent in sharing the Gospel.

4. A process as a gathered community to affirm local believers in their engagement as agents of transformation in their everyday worlds.

5. A celebration of the stories of transformation in the local community and beyond which have occurred because the local believers have “gone out” on mission.

For more on being ‘Revitalised in Witness’ please read the other posts in this series:

Pt 1 – ‘Scriptural Places I Turn to’ by Keith Jobberns

Pt 2 – ‘Lessons in Arousing Curiosity from the Prophets’ by Stan Fetting

Pt 3 – Revitalised in Witness – the Lessons from the Billy Graham Crusade of 1959 by Karl Faase

 

PRAC Autumn Edition – Missional Children’s and Youth Ministry Feature

PRAC_AUTUMN_2013There can be little doubt that one of the ongoing major issues for the future of the local church is the vitality of its ministry to children and youth. Local Baptist churches have traditionally been well engaged in this area of focused ministry. However, the decline in church attendance, falling from 25% of the Australian population in 1990 to 15% in 2011 (NCLS Survey 2011), highlights the increasing need for our children and youth programs to be more purposefully focused on reaching the kids of our districts who are increasing unlikely to be associated with church attendance activities.

This edition of PRAC raises the issue of what it will take to see our kids’ ministries being more genuinely missional.  Is it possible that traditional ministries such as playgroups and Brigades can be re-engineered to reach families for Jesus? The short answer is yes. The articles in this PRAC highlight how two local Baptist churches, Caringbah in Sydney and South Pine in Brisbane, have seen traditional children/youth ministries reconfigure to impact families for Jesus.to impact families for Jesus. Click on the link to download this edition: PRAC Autumn 2013

 

Missional Conversation

Good ministry practitioners are in constant conversation about ministry strategy and principles, and in particular, about how to get the Good News of the Gospel across to the people we connect with. One particular conversation that has been going for over a decade now is the missional conversation. Crossover has developed a DVD resource designed to help churches, in particular leadership and ministry teams, to ask and discuss the hard questions about their mission strategy in a post-God generation. (more…)

In Search Of The Missional Pastor #3

Sam Thomson is pretty good at hunting pigs. He roughs it a lot and spends a lot of time as a pastor outside the walls of his church. He actively shares his passion for pig hunting with impressionable young people who he takes out into the wilderness for expeditions and adventures. Is this really the kind of Baptist pastor we want? In part 3 of this series we expose another Baptist pastor straying beyond the walls of the church. View for yourself and see what you think.

Sam is on staff at Blackwood Hills Baptist Church in the Adelaide hills as well as being a school chaplain. We spoke to him during a rare visit inside the walls of the church and dug a bit deeper to see if in Sam we had uncovered a genuine missional pastor.

The New ‘F’ Word

Where I live the stick family stickers have overtaken the frangipani stickers as the new must have fad to stick on the back of your car.  Some people aren’t happy about it though.  On my morning commute with my daughters in the car I spotted an alternative one last week which featured a mother and father plus two children hanging from gallows and the statement *&%# YOUR FAMILY!  A decade into the new millennium families in secular Australia should be just about extinct by now, after all we no longer conform to ‘outdated’ ideas of what constitutes family don’t we?  Or do we?  (more…)

Hipster Christianity – is being missional just trying to be cool?

Have you ever wondered if a lot of what drives the ‘missional debate’ is simply a subset of Christians looking for an expression of faith that is set apart from the status quo – and in contrast a whole lot cooler? I have. Brett McCracken’s ‘Hipster Christianity – When Church And Cool Collide’, helped me to explore my thoughts on this question in a more informed way. Paradoxically, just reading it made me feel cool. So what’s the answer? Are we just dealing with Hipster Christianity or is that a harsh call? (more…)

The Failure of Evangelism

Evangelism as we know it hasn’t worked. Either evangelism is so aggressive you want to get a restraining order, or else evangelism is so restrained you want to call it to order. Our strategies have been spectacularly useless at best, counterproductive at worst. We have lived through an exodus, but not of the biblical kind. So says Leonard Sweet in his book laying out a new vision for evangelism: Nudge. Leonard has some pretty controversial things to say about evangelism as we have known it and his vision for what should be in our new world. (more…)

The Minister as Missionary

Are you angry about mission? Do you see yourself in this description perhaps?:

“I detect an emerging and distressing phenomenon, angry missionary-ministers, ministers whose anger is kindled by their congregation’s failure to get with the missionary programme. These are ministers who feel held back by their congregations. It is as if their people are getting in the way of their own missionary-ministry. And it makes them mad. I sympathise. I think I understand. But I am also alarmed.” (more…)

Forge Australia Back From The Dead



Steve Turner - breathing life back into Forge



Reports of the untimely death of Forge Australia have proven to be greatly exaggerated. I know because I spoke to the national coordinator today and interviewed him about where Forge is going (and where its been in the past).  Steve Turner is the last man standing so to speak as Forge Australia closed down operations and some the key figures moved on.  Steve Turner didn’t and is keen steer Forge 2 into a new era of cooperation with the church. (more…)

The word means missionary

There is no rear-vision mirror in a pre-Christian society – only a front windscreen. The starting point in evangelism is very different.

In a post-Christian society, the church calls on its government to address lapses in moral legislation or inadequate care for the poor. Churches see themselves as political prophets provoking the conscience of a nation . . . In a pre-Christian world, the approach is different. We cannot talk about gaining back that which we never had . . . (more…)