*Initially posted on the website Pray4GCR.com
My wife and I started serving in the local church right after we were married. Attending seminary was our first goal—after three years we finally arrived! Knowing I was called to pastor, I avoided “Missions Chapel.” My call was to the church not “missions.”
But, after years of serving as a pastor, God began to deal with my heart. While my wife served as a trustee for our Foreign Mission Board (1988-96), I had the opportunity to see the lost world through the eyes of our missionaries. Everywhere I turned in the Bible, I began to see God’s heart for the nations. Our church became excited when we led them to go on overseas mission trips and their commitment to Christ grew: they prayed more, gave more and witnessed more locally. Watching all of this, I finally began to get it—the Great Commission is for every believer; God’s plan is to reach the world through His Church!
Then God gave me the privilege to share this message with other churches when I was asked to serve as the Special Assistant to the President of the IMB. For five years I visited missionaries serving in hard places and preached in churches awakening to a missions vision. My assignment was to be bilingual: speak “church” to the mission board and speak “missions” to the churches.
In the churches I kept hearing the question: “Is it local or global?” It is not a question about who needs Jesus the most—the whole world is filled with people who need Christ! We must embrace the local and global task. We know we are called to do evangelism—but what about missions and the local church?
Although the term “Great Commission” is not found in the Bible, it is easy to see that this is God’s heart for His Church. In Luke 24:44-48 Jesus explained that He is the central Person of the Old Testament. He said: “…things written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms…” As we look to the future of the Southern Baptist Convention we must keep the Person and work of Christ at the center of our focus and our message. He alone is worthy to be worshiped! Jesus also explained the central purpose for His followers. He said, “…repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to ALL NATIONS (peoples).” We, His Church, have been given “the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:18
Now, as I again serve as pastor in the local church, I must challenge our people to this missions purpose every day. Every day we must honestly ask: How are we fulfilling the local and global task given to the church? Even writing this causes me to search my heart and the priorities of our church.
As Southern Baptists we are doing a lot of good things in our churches and denomination but not all of them are accomplishing this Great Commission purpose. The time has come for us to fall on our faces and ask God how to focus the task we’ve been given…telling the world about Jesus.
God has started this movement in the hearts of Southern Baptists. Let’s all continue to pray that this will truly be a Great Commission Resurgence!
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