Strategic Missions

Sorry for the blog silence for the past week or so. I’ve been on the road again and the schedule just hasn’t been conducive to blogging.

Most of last week I was down in Lynchburg, VA preaching in a missions conference for the Timberlake Baptist Church. I enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship with the pastors there and with the missionaries and congregation that were part of the conference. A special treat was being able to spend some time with Don and Becky Bowman (along with two of their married children and spouses). Don and Becky served on staff at IC for years before moving down to Lynchburg. I first met “Mr. Bowman” when he was my teacher in 7th grade and also served in the Jr Hi Sunday School department. He was also my varsity baseball coach. After I finished college, we served on staff here together and I was even his assistant baseball coach. When I returned as pastor, he was the school administrator. Becky was teaching sixth grade, then became our elemenatary principal. Great folks and a very encouraging time with them.

The focus of the conference was on the Great Commission mandate to engage in discipleship that produces changed lives and new congregations for the sake of His name. As I told the folks at the conference, about the only thing I miss Sundays at IC for are vacation with my family, trips to the mission field, and a missions conference every now and then. One of the real burdens on my heart is to do what I can to focus attention on the fact that planting churches that will plant churches is an essential component of fulfilling the Great Commission. It seems, at least to me, that for too long missions has been: (1) driven by parachurch organizations; (2) far too individualistic (i.e., designed around individuals and aimed almost exclusively at individuals); and (3) defined by location rather than purpose (i.e., missions is doing just about anything in another part of the world).

Biblical missions, I would contend, springs from the local church and primarily aims to start church planting movements in unreached areas. Technically, the Great Commission can’t be fulfilled by an individual acting as such–the inclusion of baptism means that it must be done in connection with the local church. Everything else being done on the mission field should serve this primary purpose in some clear, intentional way.

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