My recent travel overseas reinforced, once again, what I've known for many years. A huge disparity exists between the church in North America and most of the rest of the world.
When a person leaves a company with vital information of a company's products or operation, they're often required to sign a non-compete clause. The same goes when a startup company is bought out.
In the Kingdom of God and the church, this should never be a concern.
Rich in resources
Far more energy and emphasis is made getting people to come to a church service, than equipping and sending them out with the gospel.
[bctt tweet="Is your church concerned with getting people into it, or sending them out with the gospel?" username="tkbeyond"]
And yet, we—the American church—hold incredibly rich resources that an impoverished church needs in much of the world (MOTROW).
This was reinforced in each of the five places I visited in the Philippines and Thailand this past month. It reminds me of what Jesus told his disciples after telling them two parables—
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48b NIV)
Time to get honest
At some point, we—the church in North America—need to get honest with God and ourselves about the responsibility we have to the church worldwide.
[bctt tweet="The American church has a shared responsibility with the church worldwide" username="tkbeyond"]
I have several missionary and pastor friends who share this same burden, but we are few in comparison to the vast need that exists (Matt 9:37).
Sadly, the trend is going the opposite direction for the church immersed in our present iCulture.
Who builds the church?
Jesus said He would build His church (Matt 16:18). Does He need our help? Not our help so much as our cooperation.
We are to partner with Him to equip His church for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).
[bctt tweet="We are to partner with Jesus to equip His church for the work of the ministry" username="tkbeyond"]
What is the work Jesus calls His church to do? The primary objective remains the same as it was in the beginning. It's called the Great Commission found expressly in five places in the New Testament—
- Act 1:8– to go into all the world as living testimonies (witnesses) to the ends of the earth
- Matthew 28:19-20– to make disciples of all nations (peoples) and teach them what Jesus taught
- Mark 16:15– to preach or proclaim the gospel to all people in the world
- Luke 24:47– to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (peoples)
- John 20:21-23– to go out as Jesus went out with God's power to extend His forgiveness
Even in America, we only reach a small percentage of the population. In 2014, the number of unchurched and unengaged in the US was about 156 million people. When it comes to the world at large, it's a few billion.
[bctt tweet="Millions in America & billions in the world are unchurched or unengaged" username="tkbeyond"]
If you're called to plant a church in North America, do it with new growth, not borrowed from other churches—people who are unchurched, unengaged, or even the de-churched. This is what the apostle Paul said about this—
My goal was to spread the Good News where the name of Christ was not known. I didn’t want to build on a foundation which others had laid. (Rom 15:20 GW)
But don't stop there!
Each church needs to equip their believers as disciple-makers, not just to serve the existing church. We need to prepare them to know and share the gospel message and to disciple others with the truth of God's Word.
[bctt tweet="Leaders need to equip believers as disciple-makers, not just to serve the church" username="tkbeyond"]
As I've shared before, this isn't rocket-science, and it's not a cognitive skill to develop but a way of life. Making disciples takes commitment, and needs to be intentional, yet relational.
My personal take-away from this past month of ministry overseas is to continue to do what I do well—what I'm gifted in, called to, and have done for many years.
I want to continue to assist churches to set up practical ways to equip believers to study, understand, and share the truth of God. I'm also committed to equip pastors and leaders to do the same, whether overseas or here in America.
What is your take-away from what I've shared in this post?
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