n recent communication, J. Hudson Taylor IV signed off a note with, “May the Lord’s sufficient and effectual strength and grace be your daily testimony.” His very life illustrates that our great Lord will give us daily strength and grace when our focus is on souls, to fulfill the Great Commission.
In my youth I read The China Inland Mission by his great-grandfather, the legendary missionary J. Hudson Taylor, who spent 51 years in China. The society he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions. They established more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers spread out over all 18 provinces.
For four generations, the Taylor family has continuously spearheaded missionary leadership throughout China. What started out as a small work with fewer than two dozen people in the midst of a national civil war has become the largest Christian community in the world. Today, China’s 104 million Christians outnumber its Communist Party members!
More than 4,000 years ago, one of the greatest stories of missionary networking changed the course of human history. From this God-ordained account are the successful steps necessary for a compelling, networking, Great Commission church.
In Genesis 24, five times we read the phrase “good speed,” or “success” (NIV). It means God’s hand is upon His servants, helping them to achieve what He wants them to achieve. In this story, Abraham is approaching the end of his earthly journey, and his sole desire is to obtain a bride for his son of promise, Isaac.
God has a similar desire today─to get a Bride for His Son, Jesus Christ. Who is the “bride of Christ”? The Church.
Abraham sends his most trusted servant, Eleazar, on a mission to get the bride for Isaac. Eleazar does not disappoint him, returning with the beautiful Rebecca. God helped Eleazar to complete the mission of his master.
Abraham typifies God the Father; Isaac typifies God the Son; Eleazar typifies God the Holy Spirit. What is the mission of the Holy Spirit? To seek a Bride. The Holy Spirit is calling out a Bride for the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit wants to work through you to help accomplish His mission. The following five challenges will help you to both envision global impact and execute it during your lifetime.
Pastor Alexey Ledyaev, co-chair of the Billion Soul Network in Eastern Europe, who has pioneered more than 700 churches throughout Eastern Europe, Russia, and the United States, said: “If we go after our impossible, we will reach our maximum; if we go after our maximum, then we will reach our average; if we go after our average, then we will get nothing!”
As spiritual leaders, we must have a compelling cause to motivate us and activate our team around us. Eleazar had a God-given cause. Each step he took moved the whole earth into alignment with God’s overarching plan for His world.
We attract what we are, not what we want. If we become wrapped up in ourselves, we create a very small package. If we become wrapped up in the Great Commission, we draw great, visionary people into our lives. My late friend, Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, used to say, “Small dreams never inspire the hearts of great men.”
When we launched the Billion Soul Network in January 2002, we cast a clear vision of doubling the size of Christianity, moving from one billion Christians on the planet to two billion Christians in 15 years. I am happy to report that the global Church will pass this goal by 2020!
For Eleazar to get where he was going, he had to know where he was. It is obvious that Eleazar studied the situation and knew the necessary steps to accomplish his mission. He knew God was leading him to go to a land where he had never been to meet a woman he had never met. Then, he knew he had to convince her to leave her mother and father and return with him to Isaac.
We must take an honest inventory of our lives and ministries. We need to know what stands between us and accomplishing our role in fulfilling the Great Commission. What are the roadblocks? Just because we have obstacles does not mean God is not with us.
The door of opportunity swings on the hinges of opposition. We need to stop complaining about our problems and start cracking the code to help get a Bride ready for Christ.
The Billion Soul Network has purposefully tied relational knots with problem-solving leaders so we can be the best we can possibly be in our generation. You will never bring a people to Jesus by yourself.
We need to be encouraged on our path of networking success. When our professional life outpaces our personal life, we bring stress to ourselves and those around us. There are at least four means of encouragement.
1. Incorporate the people factor. When we spend time with the right people in the right places, we will become the right person. Make a list of the closest friends in your life. This reflects where you will be five years from now.
2. We need to involve the promise factor. Abraham said, “The Lord God of heaven . . . will send His angel before you” (v. 7 NKJV). There are more promises in the Bible than we have problems.
3. Investigate the profit factor. We need to know the benefits of becoming a Great Commission church. Real motivation comes from proper motives. Once you see what the profit is, you determine the why of what you should do. Then God will show you the how.
4. Be inspired through the prayer factor. Eleazar prayed, “Please give me success this day” (v. 12 NKJV). If you are not praying about your cause, then you either do not think the cause is God-given or you are overly confident.
There is a difference between being a character and having character. Eleazar disciplined his life through his decisions (v. 21), desires (v. 31), and direction (v. 56).
Eleazar looked at Rebecca and asked himself if she was the one. He did not make a rash decision. He fasted and prayed for God to help him. At the end of the story, he said, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has made my journey successful” (v. 56 NRSV).
Abraham did not send his servant on a networking mission without giving him the gifts necessary to get the job done. Nor does God call us to bring a Bride to Jesus Christ without giving us the needed gifts or skills to accomplish it. When we are interested in winning souls, God is interested in our success.
Just as Eleazar disciplined his desires (fasted and prayed), his decisions (in the selection of Rebecca), and direction (stayed on the right path), we are to find, follow, and finish God’s will.
Eleazar knew his networking mission was not a one-man show. Prosperous people have learned to depend on one another. Are you a cooperative person? Have you learned to delegate?
Every snowflake is unique. One snowflake cannot do much, but when enough snowflakes get together, they can stop traffic. Billions of them can stop an entire city. Think of what we could do if we work together. At the Billion Soul Network, we have many powerful resources to help you fulfill the Great Commission (www.Billion.tv).
When God calls us to a task that is bigger than ourselves, He brings around us those people who are capable to help accomplish the task together.
One of the most compelling networked churches in the world is the World Harvest Center in Suva, Fiji. Pastor Suliasi Kurulo, founding pastor and co-chair of Oceania/Unreached People in the Billion Soul Network, envisioned from the beginning a global missions-sending church. In the last 25 years, they have sent missionaries who have planted more than 5,100 churches in 116 nations.
Let us pray the Lord would raise up 10,000 such churches in America. Could you imagine a world in which 10,000 churches planted 1,000 churches each in the next 10 years? Let us pray that your church becomes one.
How do we make our net work? We will be successful when we establish our cause, examine our conditions, encourage our confidence, enforce our character, and enlist our comrades.