For the church, the question should never be, “should we engage the world?” Jesus’ last instruction to his people was the command he gave Abram in the first installment…Make disciples…all nations…all families…
The question always has to be, “how does the entire church engage the world?” The global mandate to disciple the nations is not given to a handful of special forces Christians who are more spiritual and “called” in some way the rest of us are not. That’s a category we created, not God.
15 years ago, we started answering that question by focusing on one ethnically diverse people group.
As we grew and the Lord mobilized our church, he started sending people to other places NOT our chosen group of people. Let me be clear. That was a chosen strategy not a biblical mandate. The bible mandates we disciple the nations. Choosing one nation to focus on was a strategy not obedience to a command.
As we focused, the paradigm of how to engage was shifting even inside our own church.
We have seen a paradigm shift in the last 15 years on how the gospel is advancing…its less people group focus and more a focus on Christians using their vocations to engage the world that will ultimately affect that places the gospel has never been. We call it “domain engagement”. It’s how we attempt to mobilize the whole church to use their God-given vocations to disciple the world where they are.
As this paradigm shift is happening the church is having to wrestle with hard questions:
- How do we mobilize the whole church?
- How do we work with denominational agencies to supply them with people and provide what they can’t…quality member care?
- How do you employ your vision locally so you can be effective locally and globally and not have all your resources tied up in buildings and attractional programs?
- How do you mobilize a future generation to think about their vocations globally not just locally?
- How do you begin to adequately care for your own members who are working around the world?
That last question has been one we have been faced with as our own people look to us for help.
So, here is a little biblical instruction on how a church Paul planted engaged him while he was “on the field” continuing the global advance of the gospel:
Philippians 4:14-20 (ESV) Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
What can we learn from this passage that will inform how we send and partner with our own covenant members?
Paul’s insight into how the local sending church partnered and benefitted him and the work is insightful:
- Kind of you to share my trouble v. 14
- No one partnered with him but his home church (the one he started) v. 15
- They sent him help 2 times while he was planting other churches v. 16
- Paul is not seeking the gift, but the fruit that comes from the church’s partnership with it’s people. v. 17
- Philippi sent supply with one of their members, Epaphroditus v. 18
- Their gift in the personal touch and in supplies and finances, was an offering to God that was acceptable v. 18
- They give and serve and God gives and serves his people…there is no out giving God when we do his work v. 19
Make no mistake. We are passionate about the nations. We are also passionate about the nations being reached from Rome, GA. We want all TRC folks to engage where they are and serve our people who engage their vocations around the world. How we do that is being shaped as we simply “plow some new ground” in our work.
What a joy, and what a challenge. Stay faithful TRC and friends. Jesus will get us there! Keep gettin’ after it.