3 Ways to Encourage Mission in the Local Church
By Kevin McDonald
I have a pastor friend who says we focus too much on our church and outreach numbers, etc. He says that we need to pay attention to one number and that number is zero. He is referencing 2 Peter 3:9, which says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” We need to focus on making sure no one goes to hell when they die, so we need to focus on making this number is at zero. We should work tirelessly in this effort.
Jesus gives us the mission to “go and make disciples.” Sadly, many Christians and churches don’t participate in this mission. We’re more concerned about having a nice service than reaching people for Jesus and put more emphasis on the paint color in our church building than on depopulating hell.
I’m not an expert at mission by any means. Over the years, however, I have found ways to encourage this mission of Christ to happen in exponential ways in the local church:
Pastors Must Model Mission
The lead pastor and the pastoral staff must model mission. Not just in their offices or on stage on the weekends, but in their daily lives. They must model it in their cars, in the grocery stories, in their banks, etc. Pastors must live missional wherever they go. Recently I visited a local restaurant here in town. While visiting, I paid for the meal of a lady and her six kids. This was a simple act. However, this lady showed up at church the next Saturday. Her husband came to know Christ through a simple conversation I had with him. He was baptized and now he and his wife are regular attenders at our church and are active in a home group. If the leaders model mission, then this will motivate the entire congregation to live the mission.
Equip Every Believer to be a Missionary
I believe that every weekend in our services, we have a room full of people who are missionaries. However, most Christians don’t even know they’re missionaries. The word missionary just means a sent person. Every believer is a sent person. Our job as leaders according to Ephesians 4 is to equip God’s people for works of service. As church leaders, we must take the time to equip our people to live missional lives outside the church building walls. Most weekends when I preach, I inform our people that God is sending them out into the world to change the world with the gospel. When every believer takes on the responsibility of living a missional life, then mission will happen.
Prayer for Workers in the Harvest
Jesus tells us something interesting in Luke 10:2. He says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest field.” Every day at my church we set our alarms at 10:02 and pray the Luke 10:2 prayer. We pray that God would daily send us and our people into the harvest field. We encourage our entire church to pray this prayer daily. When we pray this prayer, I believe that God answers and mission will happen!
Kevin McDonald is a lead pastor Gateway Church of the Nazarene, Murrieta, Calif. He has planted 15 new churches and travels the country speaking and teaching on church planting and church renewal.