Inspire the Heart!
A big shout out to Marti Wade of Missions Catalyst for editing the transcript from this video.
Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Missions Catalyst was founded in 1996. Since 2007 it has been a ministry of Pioneers.
Inspiring the Heart: What Does It Take?
When it comes to inspiring ourselves and inspiring minds, we see there are things we can do. But what about inspiring people’s hearts? Brothers and sisters, we need to recognize that this is God’s territory. He is the one who created the heart and who understands the heart even when we don’t understand our own. And he is also the one who can change the heart.
And when it comes to missions, people often need a change of heart.
Christians Need a Conversion to Missions
A man named A.T. Pearson said, “Christians need conversion to missions as much as a sinner needs conversion to Christ.” A bit shocking. What do you think? What is he trying to say here? One thing we already know about conversion to Christ is that the Holy Spirit does it. We don’t save people! We can sow the seeds, but Holy Spirit converts. Could it be that the same principle is true in mission mobilization? Is it the Holy Spirit who brings that moment of revelation?
Christians need conversion to missions as much as a sinner needs conversion to Christ.A.T. Pearson
Secular Humanism Says…
For a long time, I did mission mobilization with what you might call a secular humanist presupposition. Secular humanists have this idea that people are basically good. If a good person is doing something wrong, it’s because they didn’t get the right education. This is the thinking: if you give people the right information or training, they will do the right thing. Good information will lead to good choices and decisions.
But I discovered it didn’t work. I would do a great job sharing information and nothing would change. Maybe more information is not the issue. When you look at the world today, there has never been more access to information, ever. We have so much at our fingertips. But has that allowed us to be better human beings? Do we see less war, injustice, corruption, and immorality? Even just looking at my own life: How many amazing books have I read? How much have they actually transformed my life? Information does not necessarily lead to transformation.
Information does not necessarily lead to transformation.
We Have to Rely on the Holy Spirit
We can make a lot of disciples who can give the right answers, but what they understand hasn’t changed their hearts. We may find this in ourselves, too: We know what’s important but don’t live it out. I’ve become convicted and convinced that I want to be a disciple who not only hears but also obeys the Word and applies it. It’s so much more valuable to get a little bit of information and apply it and obey it than to get a lot and not apply it. The world needs disciples who act on what they know.
And this is where we need the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who adds revelation to the information we receive and brings it to our hearts so we can say, “Whoa, that’s for me.” He helps us apply it in our life and gives us the ability to be transformed from the inside out, not just by stuffing our heads full of more information.
There’s No “Heart Switch”
It would be nice if we could just turn on a switch in our hearts (or someone else’s) to have a burden for the lost, to really want to reach out to a group like the Fulani people of West Africa. But it turns out there is no switch like that. I can’t flip the switch. What I can do is say, “God, can you give me some of your heart for the Fulani?” When we do mobilization, we need to remember we can’t give people a love for the lost, and they can’t drum it up for themselves either. What we can do is tell people about the lost and our love for the lost.
Often, in the past, if I did that and it didn’t bring change, I would get frustrated and judge people. “I’ve told you this so many times! Why don’t you care? Why don’t you get it?” Have you ever felt that way? That’s another reason we need the Spirit’s help.
Evangelism and Mobilization Have Something in Common
When it comes to evangelism, we’ve been taught that our job is to sow the seed. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” It’s also true in mobilization. We can tell stories, share information, and offer opportunities, but it’s the Holy Spirit who can bring the mobilization equivalent of conversion, that “aha!” moment when people say, “Oh! I have a part to play in the Great Commission.”
This is the way we’ve been saying it at GlobalCAST Resources: “Mobilization is to the Body of Christ what evangelization is to the unreached”. The same principles that we apply in evangelism can inform how we do mobilization.
Mobilization is to the Body of Christ what evangelization is to the unreached.
Don’t Try to Be the Holy Spirit
This has been so helpful to me. I don’t know about you, but in the effort to try to get people to care, I’ve tried to do the Holy Spirit’s job. And that’s not a good idea. I may even try to use things like fear and guilt and shame to get people to do things. When we try to play Holy Spirit, it’s just manipulating. It’s ugly and it doesn’t bring life. So we must let the Holy Spirit do His job. He will convict someone of a certain thing and then actually give the grace to respond to that conviction. So He’s so much better at this than any of us.
When we try to play Holy Spirit, it’s just manipulating. It’s ugly and it doesn’t bring life.
When it comes to evangelism, we know we need to pray because prayer can change hard soil to good soil that can receive the seed. Let’s approach mobilization the same way. If there is hard soil where you’ve been sharing this message and inviting people to do things in missions, and it’s just not working, step back and give yourself to prayer. Ask God to make them ready to receive the message of missions. You are joining in with Jesus’s mobilization prayer, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).
Consider the Mobilization of Paul
I’ve been emphasizing that mobilization is the work of the Holy Spirit. But I want to acknowledge that it’s still a partnership. You can see this in the life of Paul. He’s walking on the road to Damascus going to persecute some Christians when Jesus confronts him and mobilizes him to be the most amazing missionary to the Gentile world. Amazing!
But, let’s not forget the role of Barnabas. Barnabas took a risk on this known terrorist and walked with him as a mentor and a coach. Barnabas was key to Paul becoming a missionary to the nations.
We need many more men and women with the heart of Barnabas who are willing to come alongside and encourage rough, unpolished, future missionaries who still have flaws, to coach them and be patient with them and walk with them.
Some statistics show that out of every 100 young people who say, “Here am I, send me to the nations,” only three actually go. Hundreds say yes. Three will go. I’m convinced that part of the problem is a lack of mission mobilizers with the spirit of Barnabas who will keep them going. We need you, mobilizers!
Offering People Opportunities to Invest
Another principle for inspiring the heart comes across clearly in Matthew 6:21, which says, “where your treasure is there, your heart will be also.” We need to give opportunities for people to pray and give and volunteer. Because as they invest in something, their heart connects with that very same thing. Do not underestimate the value of giving people opportunities to pray and give. That may be what inspires their hearts.
The Story of Steve
Steve is a friend of mine, a young man invited by the Holy Spirit to say yes to going to another nation. And he did say yes. I happened to have the privilege of coaching and mentoring him, of helping him take the next step, and encouraging him along the way. But it was very clear that I did not talk him into missions.
Later on, he was working in an unreached area and had learned the language and everything. Then while they were praying and worshiping God highlighted another province that was very needy. And Steve said yes again and went. The Holy Spirit mobilized him to a new place. But even then, other leaders, friends, and coaches helped him form a team and face the challenges of pioneering. It’s always a partnership.
Conclusion: Mobilizers With the Heart of Barnabas
We need many more men and women who are willing to encourage others to go further and have more influence than they do, themselves. People like Barnabas. I think he is my favorite picture of a mission mobilizer in the New Testament. Be a Barnabas!