Thank you, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Volunteers

Every Christian is called to be on mission for the sake of the Gospel. His call may vary from person to person; however, we are all called and commissioned to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel. Being a Christian is not just about who we are, (or Who’s we are), but also what we are to be. We are to be just like Jesus Christ.

The Bible challenges us, What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [f]your works, and I will show you my faith by [g]my works. James 2:14-18

The ministry of disaster relief models the ministry of Jesus. Jesus would see a physical need and seek to meet their need so He could show them their greater need: their spiritual need.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are some of the most dedicated, selfless, and faithful servants I have ever seen. Just like Jesus who was moved with compassion to those in need, Kentucky Baptist disaster relief volunteers are moved with compassion to those affected by disasters and are ready to respond.

I am often reminded of Stan. Stan’s family attended church, but he was very independent and did not need Jesus. He believed church could make you a better person, so he sent the family, but he did not need anyone to help him. Following a severe ice storm, Stan was caring for his wife who was battling cancer and their four grandchildren they had adopted. Their power had been out for over a week, and he was getting tired. I made several offers for them to come to the church and let us help. He would always tell me “No, we take care of ourselves.”

A few days later, Stan finally reached a breaking point and brought his family to the church for warmth and rest. Several of those gold shirt volunteers began to love on them and get them whatever they needed. They served them selflessly. Stan watched with amazement how these volunteers just did whatever needed done with eagerness and a smile. He had never witnessed anything like this before.

A few days of watching this, Stan said he needed to talk to someone, “Right now!” One of the chaplains took him aside and asked what he needed. Stan replied, “I have never in my life witnessed such love as I have with all of these gold shirts. They have something I do not have, and I want what they have.” The chaplain shared with Stan the Gospel message, and Stan prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. His life was dramatically changed!

I have watched so many of our volunteers in those gold shirts work hard, serve faithfully, and love generously without ever expecting anything in return. They model true servanthood.

I see them work hard all day and drag in exhausted in the evening. The feeding crew who had also been working hard all-day preparing meals, serves these volunteers. It’s not long, everyone is laughing, celebrating what God did that day, sing songs of praise, and sleep hard only to get up with eagerness to serve another day.

They understand God had set up these diving appointments and they cannot wait to see what will happen next. God has a plan. It may be a meeting at a gas station, at restaurant, in Wal-Mart or in someone’s back yard. But they are there. Ready to serve.

To the world it seems like foolishness. But to those who have experienced it, it is life changing; it is amazing; and it is incredible.

They love to work together, serve together, and pray together. They are eager to learn, to train, and to train others. They are truly the hands and feet of Jesus, ready to go across town, across the state, across the nation, or even around the world. Just like Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.” (Isa. 6:8).

Many of them use their own equipment or vehicle; take their own vacation time to serve to help others; take time away from family or their own needs at home to serve others. It is in their heart.

So, next time you see someone in the gold shirt, let them know how much you appreciate them .

Everyone can pray. Pray for this ministry and these volunteers as they serve.

Most can give. Your generous gifts help provide the resources needed to care for others in times of disaster. Your giving allows us to go; to provide the chainsaws, the kitchens, the trailers, the tarps, supplies, training, and so much more. And as you give through the Cooperative Program, you support this wonderful ministry.

Some can go. Will you pray about and consider becoming a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer? It will change your life.

This ministry not only models the ministry of Jesus Christ, but it demonstrates the cooperative spirit of the Christian. We are a family.

THANK YOU!



Sharing the Gospel in Hostile Times

Syrian refugee girls march at a United Nations refugee camp in Jordan.

Oftentimes, the mission of God does not seem to match our conveniently constructed models. God calls us to love all people, which means taking the gospel to hard places, among hard people, and during difficult times. In Acts 8:26-40, we catch a glimpse of how God brings about what He has promised is going to happen in Revelation 5:9-10. God orchestrated circumstances in such a way that Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch met on a desert road to bring about His will, and He continues to do so today for the same purposes. However, we see some things about this mission that are often missed, or even rejected, in the West. Philip understood that God would never leave him or forsake him, so he never stopped sharing the gospel no matter where God sent him. In this passage, we see four realities regarding the mission of God that can empower us to share the gospel in hostile times.

  • The mission of God is inconvenient
    Think about the inconvenience of the Lord’s assignment for Phillip. Phillip had just been scattered from Jerusalem and gone to Samaria where “revival” broke out. Then, God ask him to leave and go south to Gaza. Not very convenient to go to a place that is known for robbers, in the middle of the desert in order to talk to a wealthy, Ethiopian eunuch. For someone limited on time, surely there were better assignments. In the West, our culture is built on convenience, constantly attempting to make life more comfortable. While some conveniences may have their place, the mission of God is never convenient, at least not the way our culture thinks about convenience. Church, we will never have mission without sacrifice.
  • The mission of God appears inefficient
    Phillip was praying, and God directed him to go to a desert place. Once there, the Spirit directed him to run alongside of a chariot of foreigners. The eunuch’s journey to Jerusalem was conceivably five months long, one way. Once there, he was doubly denied entrance into the assembly at the temple for being a Gentile and a eunuch. While efficiency has its place, the mission of God is hardly efficient, and the details surrounding Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch underscore this point. In the West, as one of the holdovers from the Industrial Revolution, our culture loves efficiency. We value seeking the greatest output for the least input. Church, we must obey God’s call, share Christ without fear and trust the Lord with the results.
  • The mission of God is ingenious
    God combats the core human instinct to “go our own way,” even our feeble attempts to earn His favor by our convenient, efficient means. The gospel is a gift, and the only way to be made right in God’s eyes is to admit you need salvation and to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. Nothing is more convenient than that! But the genius of God is that to grow in this grace is to receive His mission,  “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Grace writes a blank check for the obedience of the recipient. Church, we must spend time in prayer, hear from God and obey him at all costs.
  • The mission of God is indisputable
    God has given us the end of the story. Either it is true, or it is not. And if this story is the true story of what He is doing in the world, then the reason His mission seems inconvenient and difficult to many is perhaps because we are living for a different story. Jesus said, “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have command you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Church, the Great Commission is not an option clause, it is a command from our living Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Missions Mobilization team exist to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, please contact John Barnett at [email protected] or text 502-654-3385.

Reflections and Updates on the Ukrainian Crisis

I watch as an older man stands in front of his bombed-out house. All of his memories, the small earthly things that give us comfort, his entire history is scattered. There is a confused, bewildered look on his face as he realizes that the accomplishment of his labor is no more.

I see a woman who does not want to leave the danger zone because she just witnessed the death of her family by artillery fire. To her, she is sitting at their grave.

I see people lining up at bordering countries with whatever they can carry and waiting in 15–16-hour lines, exposed to the elements and waiting to be processed. Once they cross the border, their status changes to “refugee,” but regardless of the label, it is the same person fighting disbelief, exhaustion, and desperation as they search for ways to fend for their families.

You see, it does not matter which country is experiencing conflict: Uganda, Yemen, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria, Libya, Georgia, Armenia and now Ukraine, war forces people to become displaced.

With the tragic scenario currently unfolding in Ukraine, Send Relief has responded quickly, propelled by God’s love. They are providing food, hygiene items, shelter, safety blankets and transportation to the neighboring countries that people are fleeing to, such as Hungary and Poland, while continuing projects are providing relief to people still trapped in Ukraine itself.

As they monitor the situation, it has become clear that the bulk of the Ukrainian refugee population are currently seeking shelter in countries with similar cultures and languages, as well as those with a large diaspora presence of Ukrainians. Currently, Poland will be the base of operations moving forward, but as is the case many times, the majority of people in dire need are not the refugees outside the country but the displaced people trapped inside the country, with no means of travel and no family or friends to go to.

Present news reports state that over 2.5 million refugees have made it to Poland, with Romania receiving the second highest number at 700,000. All of the countries receiving people need more assistance, because coping with an influx of this number of refugees is difficult for any nation.

Send Relief has established multiple rest and registration facilities at the key entry points, where they can offer refugees relief packages with sandwiches, water, and more necessities, along with working with local authorities to provide a play tent for children to wait in while their parents are processed. As of today, Send Relief is partnering with local churches and national partners in fourteen countries.

Currently, the majority of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children, as most 18–60-year-old men must remain in the country to fight unless they have medical exemptions.

Establishing these rest and registration points will help Send Relief confirm where they will be resettling in Poland and other countries, who they will stay with and if we can arrange follow-up visits to assess and strengthen the financial capacity of host families.

In all of this, we must remember that God is in control. His kingdom expands in a time of turmoil. As the body of Christ unites, believers are emboldened and strengthened in their walks with God.

As Kentucky Baptist, you can join in solidarity with the people of Ukraine by praying, giving and going! Go to https://www.kybaptist.org/ukraine/ today and get involved!

The Missions Mobilization team exist to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, please contact John Barnett at [email protected] or text 502-654-3385. *field info from Abraham Shepherd, Send Relief (Area Director for Europe, Middle East, and North Africa.

How Will You Be A Voice For Life?

Near the conclusion of the creation account found in Genesis 1, God’s Word makes a profound statement that highlights the significance and value of all human life.  Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

While there are many rich truths that could be gleaned from this single verse of Scripture, the fact that we are created by God in His image is what gives all men and women a deep sense of worth and value. Mankind is the crowning jewel or the zenith of God’s creation, and the Bible underscores this truth throughout the pages of Scripture. For example, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Throughout this month, many followers of Christ will set aside a time to remember and reflect upon the sanctity of human life and holiness of God.  Churches will celebrate the fact that life is a gift from God, and they will also grieve the numerous lives that have been lost prematurely due to abortion, abandonment, abuse, violence, persecution, or some other means. As believers, we are called to be a voice for the powerless and to serve and support those in need by sharing the grace, love, compassion, and good news of Christ with others. There are several ways that individuals and Kentucky Baptist Churches can be a voice for life. Consider how God may be calling you to be involved.

We can pray for those whose lives are the most vulnerable, particularly the unborn, the disabled and the elderly. We can stand ready to come alongside and minister to those who find themselves in the midst of a crisis pregnancy or the loneliness that often comes in the late stages of one’s life. Maybe God is calling you to adopt a child, serve as a foster family, or minister to refugees.  Perhaps God is asking you to play a part in the restoration and healing process with someone who experienced the emotional and physical pain of an abortion months or even years ago, but they still long for forgiveness and spiritual healing. Will you help that individual to know that God loves them and offers a new start in life?

In whatever way God leads you to be an outspoken voice for life, remember the truth that we are all made in the image of God. An individual’s worth and dignity is not based upon their culture, class, country of origin, or the color of their skin. Every single person has value to God because they are made in His image, and each individual is precious to Him. Remember, whoever is precious and valuable to God should be precious and valuable to us.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” — Genesis 1:27

The Missions Mobilization Team exist to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. Email or text John Barnett, KBC missions strategist, to discover new opportunities and tools for you and your church to share the love of Christ by being a voice for life! Email: [email protected] Text/Call: 502-654-3385.

Working Together

The Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention is one of the greatest things that unites us as churches across our convention. As each individual gives of their tithes and offerings through their local church, their church sends a portion of money to the Cooperative Program. This money is used to support our missionaries, ministries, church plants, compassion ministries, and the list goes on. Cooperatively, we can do far more together than we could ever do on our own.

The dollars and cents are easy to calculate and report as those funds are distributed. But what is even more visible, is when Southern Baptists unite together in service and assist those in need. We have witnessed firsthand during the December storms that affected Kentucky across our state the Cooperative Program in action. There were the tornadoes in western and south-central Kentucky, with flooding in eastern Pike County.

This is where we could see the Cooperative Program not just funded, but lived out. During this time of disaster response, Kentucky has been blessed not only by so many of our own church members stepping up to help, but so many from countless states who have come to help. And it makes a difference. Disaster relief teams from several of our neighboring states assisted us during this response.

Our disaster relief volunteers have responded in some very cold, dirty, and unpleasant places. They have taken their time, vacations, and even their own money to help others who are hurting. But this is what they train for. This is what they prepare for. And lives are changed.

For example, there were two elderly ladies whose home had flooded. With no one to help them and no where to go, they continued to live in their wet and dirty home, sleeping on a wet bed for nearly a week. A Kentucky and West Virginia Baptist disaster relief team arrived and discovered this need. Within hours, two beds, frames, sheets, pillows, and blankets were brought to their home, and they once again had a dry bed to sleep in. They assisted them with cleaning up their home and made a difference. This is the Cooperative Program lived out.

Our cooperative giving makes a difference. Our cooperative praying makes a difference. Our cooperative sharing makes a difference. And our cooperative serving makes a difference.

Don’t wait for another disaster or crisis to get involved. There are two spring disaster relief trainings coming up in March and April. Check out the web site at www.kybaptist.org/dr for more information and details. Be prepared to work together. Be prepared to make a difference.

WHY YOU SHOULD OPEN YOUR HOME THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The end of the year is often marked by a seemingly endless barrage of family gatherings, cookie swaps, white elephant gift exchanges, office parties and more.

The holidays cause some to stress and wonder if they can fit everything into their schedule. Others experience profound sadness as they reflect on the loss of a loved one or other disappointments in life. 

As a parent, I am always seeking to equip and encourage my family to live a life on mission. My wife and I pray and ask the Lord to teach us new ways to be intentional in fulfilling the Great Commission at home and in our community.

The holiday season can be a welcome time of gospel intentional hospitality. When Jesus shared meals with people, it gave him the opportunity to enter the lives of the people with whom he was eating. In fact, eating together is one of the most practical ways to overcome any relational barriers that separates us.  Jesus modeled a way for us to use the gift of hospitality as a means to share his grace. Here are three ways to enter the holidays with gospel intentionality:

1. Pray for an Open Door

As Jesus says in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” As you begin to shift your thoughts toward the birth of Jesus, gather your family to pray for your neighbors and the nations in your community. Ask the Lord to open a door for your family to share the love of Christ this Christmas. Then, talk about those you know who need to hear the gospel, and how you could share a meal together.

2. Plan a time to Share a Meal

There is a familiar saying around our house when it comes to dinner: “There’s always room for one more.” And there is. But what takes this from a stated fact to a shared reality is an intentional invitation. When we open our tables to our neighbors, we are offering more than a meal. We are offering an invitation into communion.

3. Prepare (Ask) Good questions.

Around a table, the art of conversation is fostered. Try to avoid questions resulting in one-word answers. Instead ask open-ended questions: “What are some of your greatest memories of the holidays growing up?” or “What is most difficult for you during the holidays?” These questions, when engaged honestly, can connect people at a deep level. Take time to really listen.

Focusing on these three things this holiday season can create space for intimate communion with family members, co-workers, neighbors, international students, or refugees. As you share a meal together and listen to their stories, take time to share your story and how you came to know the Lord. Then, just as you invited them to your table, you might find yourself in a conversation with someone who is wondering how they can find a seat at Jesus’ table.

Lord, help us to open our homes this holiday season for glory of your name, and we pray that many will come to know you! Merry Christmas. We are stronger together!

Missional Skills: Developing Healthy Exit Strategies

The landscape of Kentucky has changed!

The nations are now our neighbors. Over a quarter of a million Kentuckians do not speak English at home, and nearly 180,000 citizens of the commonwealth are foreign born. Many of these are unreached peoples who have yet to hear the gospel.

Population growth in cities like Bowling Green, Lexington, Owensboro and Louisville has outpaced the growth of the church. In fact, we now have areas all over our state, both urban and rural, with inadequate numbers of churches to engage the lost.

Our towns and communities are seeing culture shifts, as our nation continues to transition and deal with the impacts of a global pandemic. Attendance in churches continues to fluctuate, and many churches are having to learn news ways to engage their community with the gospel.

The good news is that many of our Kentucky Baptist churches are meeting these challenges head on. They are working through the problems and looking for effective ways to see the gospel advance. The Gospel to Every Home and Acts 1:8 Mission Assessment Paradigm continue to help many churches and associations, as they reengage their communities with the gospel.

Is your church already playing a role in seeing our state reached with the gospel? Maybe you are strategizing to engage an unreached people group in your community, working in a partnership to revitalize a church, or preparing to launch a team to start a new church in a pocket of lostness. If so, it is time to start thinking about an exit strategy.

In Mark chapter 1, after John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). He calls some of his disciples, heals many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out demons. Then, in Mark 1:35-39, Jesus arises early and goes to a desolate place to pray. And when Simon and others who were searching for Jesus found him, they said, “Everyone is Looking for you.” But Jesus said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” So, Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons (paraphrase vs. 35-39). Although Jesus healed people everywhere he went, he understood the purpose for which he had come, and it guided his path and influenced his decisions. Even though the Lord may not have shown us every step we should take to accomplish his mission, it should not stop us from developing an exit strategy.

Advancing with the end in mind
Exit strategies have long been an important component of how missionaries engage peoples, cities and regions with the gospel. Effective exit strategies help with ministry alignment and evaluation, bring clarity in communication, establish healthy boundaries, and create a trajectory and momentum toward multiplying gospel work.

Establishing biblically grounded, well thought through exit strategies is a valuable step in preparing your church for gospel advance in Kentucky.

Developing healthy exit strategies
It is one thing to have an exit strategy. It is another thing to have one that is effective. Here are a few considerations as you begin to think about developing an exit strategy to fit your context:

1. A biblical foundation: Start with a clear understanding of the mission and characteristics of a New Testament church. Then, map out clear objectives for church autonomy. A helpful question to ask is, “What biblically needs to be in place before we exit the work?” One reason churches lose strength, momentum and eventually die is that they do not have a strong biblical foundation. A great resource to consider as you think though the ecclesiological and missiological foundation in your exit strategy is 12 Characteristics of a Healthy Church by the International Mission Board (IMB).

2. A vision for sustainability: A good exit strategy must address sustainability related to areas such as finances, leadership readiness, overall cohesiveness of a body and other practical issues. A key question to ask is, “What practically needs to be in place for this new work to be autonomous and sustainable long term?” With the high failure rate of new church plants in the U.S. (some suggest as high as 70-80%), we need to make sure we don’t exit before the new work is positioned well to stand on its own.

3. A commitment to ongoing relationship: Exiting does not mean abandoning. When the Apostle Paul exited his work, he maintained contact and relationship with local churches. As you think through your exit strategy, ask the question, “What will the ongoing relationship and support look like after we leave?” Think through what ways you will continue to relationally support and encourage the church. Clear expectations regarding the ongoing relationship will go a long way in the flourishing of a new work.

Establishing biblically grounded, well thought through exit strategies is a valuable step in preparing your church for gospel advance in Kentucky. As we begin to think more like missionaries, let’s consider how we can best craft and develop effective exit plans for the work to which God has called us.

The Mission Mobilization Team exist to serve you and your church. Click: www.kybaptist.org/missions-strategies/ to connect with our team. Email either John Barnett [email protected] or Doug Williams [email protected] to discuss next steps. We look forward to serving you.

Displaced People: God’s Great Commission Strategy

Displaced People: God’s Great Commission Strategy

We live in an incredibly unique time to fulfill the great commission! Every day, millions of people are moving across the planet and communities, cities, and countries are literally changing overnight. In the midst of this migration, God is opening new pathways for the church to be on mission both locally and globally. Taking the gospel to the ends of earth is not only about being a sending church, but also a receiving church. It has always been God’s design for the gospel to spread to and through diaspora communities, or through those who have been displaced from their homeland.

Welcoming the nations locally

As God poured out His Spirit in Acts 2, the disciples began to fulfill the Great Commission by ministering among the diaspora in their midst. The apostles were preaching to, baptizing, and discipling the “devout men from every nation” who had come to Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost. These men, both Jews and proselytes, had come from the Near East, Asia Minor, North Africa, Arabia, and from the known world. Under the apostle’s leadership, they formed the church, faced persecution, boldly proclaimed Christ, helped those in need, and God added to their numbers daily.

During the pandemic, God opened the door for KBC churches to embrace the displaced people across the state. One church was able to not only love, serve, and welcome a refugee family from an unreached people group to KY, but also to lead them to the Lord. Through Zoom, the team met Ibrahim’s mother, who still lived in a refugee camp in Central Asia. After hearing her son’s testimony, Ibrahim’s mom was willing to let an IMB worker visit her home. As she heard the gospel in her heart language, she not only came to know Christ, but also opened her home to host a Bible Study for women in the camp!  

In partnership with World Hope Bible Institute, the Mobilization Team started a training center for international pastors in Louisville.  Multiple pastors from across the state are providing theological education for 11 pastors from East Africa. Also, the Lord opened the door for KBC churches to partner and plant two new Congolese churches, and now these 11 pastors shepherd 4 different congregations.

Going to the nations globally

In Acts 8, God allowed persecution to send Philip to preach the gospel in Samaria, and God used an angel to send him to lead an Ethiopian eunuch to Christ in middle of the desert. In Acts 11, scattered believers from Cyprus and Cyrene preached about Jesus to the Greeks and many believed. They called themselves Christians and formed Antioch church. Then, in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called out members from this church of displaced people to declare God’s glory among the nations.

In June, volunteers from 3 KBC churches went on an emergency trip to West Africa, in order to help IMB workers serve displaced people in crisis. On this trip, God used the team to not only open new pathways to love and serve those in crisis, but also to share the gospel with Muslims who have never heard. After sharing the story of Jesus healing the paralytic in one of the camps, one of the Muslim men said, “No one has ever told me that about Jesus. If Jesus can forgive sins, then that would make him God, right?” Now, local pastors are leading Bible studies in the camps.

Declaring God’s glory among the nations by ministering to and through the diaspora has always been a part of God’s global plan. The question for us is simple: Are we willing to join him? Discover the new opportunities for you and your church today. Contact John Barnett email: [email protected] phone: 502-654-3385.

The Mission Requires Submission

There are several things we think about when sending a group from our church out on mission for a week or even a weekend.  We expect those going on a mission trip to be people of integrity, faithful in their local church, bold in sharing their faith, and prepared for the work they’re going to do. 

I’ve seen many requirements for going on a mission trip, but I don’t recall ever seeing “submissive” on the list.  Our culture views submissive as a weakness so most don’t want to submit to anyone.  So, should submission be a requirement for going on a mission trip? 

What does submission mean? Google’s dictionary defines submission as “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.”

Submitting means putting others before yourself; it means not always doing what you want to do. It means putting God’s desires above your desires.

Missionaries on the field with whom short-term mission teams work have prayed and sought the Lord’s direction concerning the people they’re trying to reach, strategies they use and ministry methods.  Well-intentioned short-term volunteer teams generally arrive on the field, filled with excitement and zeal about the mission work they’re planning to do.  They too, have prayed and prepared themselves for this experience.

However, sometimes teams believe they know better than the missionary how the work should be done and question, or even push against the methods or ministry plans.  This creates tension and has the potential to minimize the effectiveness of the mission.

If there is a difference of opinions, an unwillingness by volunteer teams to submit to the missionary in authority shows spiritual immaturity.  And, if the short-term team is unwilling to submit, it is the missionary who remains behind to correct things long after the volunteers leave.

The Bible has much to say about submission: to God (James 4:6-7), to political authorities (Romans 13:1-7), to church leadership (Heb 13:17), within marriage (Col 3:18), and even a general submissiveness of all Christians to one another (Eph 5:21).

We all have a lot we can learn about submission. Submission can be a very hard thing. When Jesus prayed for an alternative to the cross (Luke 22:39- 44), he wanted another way so badly that he sweat drops of blood. However, He chose to follow the Father’s plan even when it was hard. All of us should be extremely grateful that He did.

There may be times as a volunteer team member that you believe you know better than the missionary what is best and that what you’re being asked to do doesn’t even make sense to you.  Like Jesus, you may find it hard to follow the plan, but exercise submission to the missionary in authority and trust our Father for the results. 

Living in Response to the Gospel

Thinking like a missionary is a reasonable service proposition (Romans 12:1). It is not extreme in light of what Christ has done for us. Following Jesus might seem radical or extreme at the outset, but once the initial step has been made the missionary mindset follows naturally.

Following Jesus re-wires our thinking. It changes every facet of our worldview. Christ is the light of the world, and His light enlightens us (John 1:4; 8:12). Far too often as Christians, we exaggerate the difficultly of choices that are normalized in the Scripture, i.e., sharing the gospel as a regular part of our daily walk with the Lord. 

Life as kingdom citizens is joyfully different than the status quo. We get to live with a perspective focused on “things above.” For example, Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” As our Lord and Savior, Jesus modeled this kind of mindset for every believer. As born-again believers, God has filled us with the Holy Spirit, so that we might walk in His ways. Remember, it is Christ in us and not Christ and us!

We could try to identify the bottom-line indicators of the missionary mindset in a number of ways, but perhaps the simplest way is to look at a missionary’s priorities.

Missionaries are mission-oriented Jesus followers. They find joy in prioritizing gospel-mission over their own comfort. A believer with a missionary mindset makes decisions based on gospel-mission objectives.

Mission-oriented Jesus followers will answer life questions like “where should I live?” or “how should I spend my income?” in radically different ways than those living out the status quo for American citizens. However, these decisions will not seem radical to them. Far too often, a Jesus follower living in light of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will hear “I could never do that” from other believers as they observe their mission-oriented decision-making process. For the missionary, the life choices they have made seem joyful, fulfilling, and reasonable.

A natural and vital reprioritization is especially important if we are to fulfill our calling to make disciples who make disciples. If we are going to disciple others to lead, we must become leaders who intentionally live open and accessible lives. We must ask ourselves, am I willing to live a life that follows Christ at all costs? Is my identity in Christ and Christ alone? Do others see Christ in me?

Leaders must bring their disciples into their lives in a way that allows them to observe, learn and practice the same decision-making process that they live by. The new disciple must learn to see the world from a kingdom perspective. They must be led to apply the example of Christ’s life to every aspect of their own. If we are living for Christ and sensing the joy of a life lived on mission, we will invite other disciples into our lives and teach them to do the same. This will become the DNA that is passed on to second, third and fourth-generation believers. This does not mean that we will never face challenges, but that we will model, teach, and learn how to keep our identity in Christ in the midst of our sufferings.

Prayerfully, many of our kids and the next generation will not think that the missionary mindset is so “radical.” After all, it is a reasonable service in light of the good news. It is our joy to follow Jesus!

Here are some questions/thoughts to explore:

  • Would choosing to live in a specific neighborhood because of their need for the gospel seem like a strange choice to you?
  • Would accepting a particular work assignment because of the way it would position you strategically for gospel mission seem weird to you?
  • Would inviting someone to live with you or have free access to “private areas” of your life with the objective of discipling a new leader seem odd to you?

Add-on: Read the June 15 Blog Post below, “Key Missional Skill: Think Like a Missionary”, for some practical first steps to take as you seek to live on mission for Christ.