God continues His mission of redeeming, restoring and reconciling the world unto Himself. His ultimate goal is to transform the world to what He originally intended. Can you imagine a community, a place where nothing is missing, nothing is broken and everything is as it should be? God is in the process of bringing His Shalom (His wholeness) to broken communities and into individual lives. God is very aware that His creation is in a fallen and broken state, and He is at work to heal and restore His creation.
God is an unchanging God, although his creation continues to evolve and change. A changing world should then cause God's church to consider its approach to fulfilling the Great Commission of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and making disciples throughout the world (Mark 16:15). Texas Baptists churches are struggling to discover what their strategy of mission should be in today's ever-changing world.
I read "Encountering Theology of Mission" recently where the authors (Ott, Craig, Stephen J. Strauss and Timothy C. Tennent) remind readers that God is at work redeeming mankind, and we are invited to participate in His mission activity. Mission is the work that belongs to our universal God. The church can be relieved of the sense that the success of mission depends on human efforts and strategies.
Although this is the case, the Church is not off the hook to joining God in His goal of redemption and restoration, but the Church needs to realize God is on a mission and He will not fail. One of the most powerful revelations for these writers was to hear Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God say, "God is already at work around you, find out where He is working and join Him."
So then, what are some practical ways for Texas Baptists churches to fulfill the Great Commission of being missional in its own neighborhood and city? Whether the church is seeking to minister to adults, youth or children, these steps have proven to be effective:
- What's breaking the heart of God in your community or city? Enter into a season of prayer and ask God for the things which are broken, missing or not as they should be in your church, community and/or city.
- Identify resources which could be useful. Look for resources such as agencies, schools or other churches in your community who have an interest in addressing the needs with you.
- What should we be doing? Seek God of an effective strategy and action plan of joining him in bringing His Shalom to what's breaking His heart. Research what others are doing and look for successful models which are already addressing needs.
- Join God in what he's doing or wants to do. Go and do! Offer resources you already have in your hands. With your hands, do the work and become part of the solution. Clasp your hands and continue to pray for God's direction and provision.
- Give God all the praise. Don't be guilty of robbing God of His Glory. In the success be sure to give God all of the glory and praise.
Craig Ott, Stephen J. Strauss, and Timothy C. Tennent, Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2010), 75