he mission trip is over, and you are back home remembering the great ministry outreach you had with your friends in a faraway place.
Or perhaps the annual missions weekend has ended . . . the flags and banners have been shipped to the next conference . . . the dynamic speakers have moved on . . . and your missions offering has been forwarded to areas of need.
Now, it’s just you and the raw reality of “the usual.” You may wonder, Where do I go from here? How do I keep a missions mind-set?
If you are ready for a life journey in missional living, take the time to prayerfully keep reading. I have prayed that your mission passion and practice will be developed and kept alive, active, and aflame by (1) the Christ you know, (2) the company you keep, and (3) the commitments you kindle.
The Christ You Know
In the closing days of a life spent following Jesus, a missionary veteran declared, “I want to know Christ.” Paul loved Jesus Christ and His mission until the day he died. He knew and experienced a lot of things, but clung to the claim that nothing compared with knowing Christ and His passion (Philippians 3:7-14). The person who continually seeks to know and obediently follow Jesus in daily discipleship will never lose a burden for His mission.
Jesus Christ was explicit about His world mission. He said He came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10),* “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), and to secure eternal life for believers (John 10:10). His followers knew Jesus came to subdue, sanctify, and empower. They said He came to “destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8); “to redeem us . . . and to purify for himself a people” (Titus 2:14); and to baptize individuals in the Holy Spirit as the empowerment for global mission (Acts 2:32-33).
The Lord was also clear about what He expected His disciples to be and do in the world. He modeled this by the way He consistently reached beyond geographical, ethnic, and religious borders to seek, serve, and save every kind of person. Because of the great opportunities for spiritual harvest, He urged them to pray for more workers (Matthew 9:37-38). He concisely communicated His commission in the closing chapters of each of the four Gospels and again in the opening lines of the Book of Acts. There is no escaping this fact: to know Jesus Christ is to know His mission for the world.
Some would casually claim that world-missions content in the Bible is limited to a few scriptures, such as the Great Commission passages in the New Testament. They may occasionally hear those scriptures repeated during a missions service or sermon. A careful reading of the Bible, however, demonstrates the centrality of the mission of God throughout Scripture. Most of my students over the years have been surprised to discover how this begins in the first verse of Genesis and continues across the pages of the Old Testament (see my book Globalbeliever.com, which is available as a complimentary ebook at MissionsResourceGroup.org).
As a teenager, I was deeply moved by an anecdote shared by Church of God missionary statesman M. G. McLuhan from his years in South Africa. He said one of his students at Berea Bible College had expressed the fear of “running out of something to preach” in his future days as a young pastor.
“Go to the Cross every day,” McLuhan charged his students, “and you will never run out of something to preach!” Being crucified with Christ and yet living “by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20) will bring us closer to His passion. To know Jesus and to grow in Him is to know His mission.
Missional passion is kept alive through the Christ you know.
The Company You Keep
The stock phrase, “You’re known by the company you keep,” has a critical, sarcastic overtone. Yes, it is true that someone is usually judged by the people with whom he or she associates. You can flip-side that, however, toward a positive missions mind-set: Your world vision grows and is maintained by the missions-minded company you keep. If you want to keep your missional lifestyle active, spend time with global believers, praying and working together on mission with God, both internationally and locally.
One way to do this is to join or start a world-missions prayer meeting in your local church. My wife, Janice, leads our local church’s global prayer group. She has some good resources about praying for the world at MissionsResourceGroup.org. Living in a church headquarters city with two denominational schools nearby, we have a good supply of visiting missionaries and international students. If you don’t have that advantage, you can work with some prayer resources like www.operationworld.org and the links provided by Church of God World Missions (www.cogwm.org).
Global connectivity gives us access to almost anyone anywhere and allows us to develop intercultural discipleship involvement. You are not alone in world missions. There is a “mighty throng” of world Christians in God’s world (see Psalm 68.11). Through Church of God World Missions, reach out to others internationally. Learn about their work, pray with them, visit them, and invest in what God is doing through them. This happens by staying informed, interested, in touch, and inquisitive.
Missional passion is kept active through the company you keep.
The Commitments You Kindle
Maintaining a global mind-set can be compared to building a good campfire. It is important to have some good kindling to spark, start, and sustain a fire. Such a fire is usually for recreation and enjoyment, but in an emergency it could save your life and those of others. Those lost in darkness are depending on the light of your “missions fire.” You can keep the flame burning if you give it your attention.
David Shibley, author of The Missions Addiction, suggests taking the following practical steps toward keeping your world vision aflame: (1) give obediently; (2) pray globally; (3) read widely; (4) think globally and eternally; (5) go personally; (6) love cross-culturally; and (7) work differently (see my ebook Azusa Street and Beyond to see these steps fully defined).
As a young U.S. Army journalist, Bob Pierce witnessed firsthand the horrific suffering of the Korean people during the Korean War (1950-1953). Alone with God, he wrote this famous prayer in the flyleaf of his Bible: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”
Pierce revisited that missional moment daily, maintained it, and made it a lifelong commitment. He came home from the war and founded World Vision—an international ministry of evangelism, relief, and community development.
What happened to young Bob Pierce far away on the Korean peninsula? A spark kindled a flickering flame that grew to an unquenchable fire. He kept that flame alive throughout a productive missionary lifetime. Thousands of expatriate staff members and national representatives have kept the flame across nations, regions, and continents.
Missional passion is kept aflame through the commitments you kindle.
Know Christ, keep company with missions-minded Christians, and kindle your commitments to missions . . . and you will be a global believer.
*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
Grant McClung is a member of the executive committee of the World Missions Commission of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and is an international missionary educator with Church of God World Missions.