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Mission need no.1: a mission director for your church

by on October 4, 2012

Who’s in charge of mission at your church?

As you read over the effective mission that went on in the early years of the Christian church (in Acts), what did they do different from us today? Is there anything that might explain why their ten year plan worked so well and ours didn’t?

One thing that stands out: in Acts there’s someone at work making big things happen. The program is set out in ch. 1: Jerusalem, Judea and the ends of the earth, and the mission moves relentlessly in that direction. But who’s guiding things to ensure that happens?

It’s not the apostles. Mostly stuff happens to those guys. They’re ready for action, but there’s no evidence that they’re great planners. And the rest of the church is following their lead!

No, the way Luke tells it, it’s the Holy Spirit, ‘the Spirit of Jesus’ who calls the shots. We often note how the Spirit empowered the apostolic mission. But just as prominent in Acts is the way the Spirit guides and leads the church into the next thing, the next opportunity, the next mission field. The Spirit is, in a very practical way, in charge.

In Acts people do things because the Spirit tells them to. And they learn things about God’s purposes as they watch the Spirit go ahead of them and bust up new ground. ‘If the Spirit came on these Roman dudes,’ says Peter, ‘then I figured they were now included and I’d better baptise them. Who was I to get in the way of God?’ (Rom 11:17)

Now that the Spirit has been poured out on the world, God is very, very involved down here: more than ever before. The Spirit simply takes charge: he prepares outsiders in advance, then sets up the meeting, and (often) shows some sort of sign, which triggers the conversation so that the gospel can be preached.

In general the apostles don’t have to think hard to figure out what to do to be effective in mission. It’s mainly joining the dots. Because the Spirit is creating the whole picture.

In other words, the Spirit is the main missioner in the early church. The senior partner in the enterprise. And therefore the leader. The church doesn’t appoint anyone ‘mission co-ordinator’, because they’ve already got one. They don’t have to work out how to make the mission happen, because it’s already happening.

And that fact helps clarify for the apostles and others their own role in the mission: they are junior players. Very junior. And caught up in something far bigger than themselves. Their main part is to ask for the Spirit to act, and be ready when he does.

Tomorrow: What mission advice would the apostles give us in Sydney?

From → General

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