Inspire the Mind!
A big shout out to Marti Wade of Missions Catalyst for editing the transcript from this video.
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Recognize Two Mobilization Challenges
In the West, we have a lot of work to do in the area of missions education, helping believers in the West to re-learn, to understand, what missions is and what their part in mission is. Not long ago the Barna organization did a big survey that showed that 51% of the people who go to church in the US did not know even know what the Great Commission is.
In the Global South, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, there is a different kind of challenge. I have had the privilege of a front-row seat in my organization to meet many Latin American, Asian, and African men and women, face to face. And these guys are incredible. They have strong character. They have a clear call to the nations. They even have the training and equipping to some degree. What they don’t have is support.
We need many more leaders who are not only going to train those who will go, but also those who will stay and send.
That points to another mobilization challenge: We need many more leaders who are not only going to train those who will go, but also those who will stay and send. We need to help those who stay understand their privilege and responsibility to pray and give to support those who will go. We need people to mobilize and inspire the minds of the senders.
Answer the “Why” Questions
In both cases, a key to inspiring people for their global destiny is to make sure we answer the question, “Why?” That has to be a priority. Too often, especially regarding missions, we jump into where to go, how to do things, and who to serve…. all important things. But we should start with why.
- Why should we care about the nations?
- What does the Bible say about the nations?
- What is God’s heart for the nations?
If we answer the question “why should we care?” then people with a good reason to care will be motivated to learn other things. But they won’t go as far without strong motivation.
If we answer the question “why should we care?” then people with a good reason to care will be motivated to learn other things.
Teach The Biblical Basis for Missions
A key to answering the “why?” question is to be ready to give a good case for what the Bible says about missions. Many people are actually thinking, hey, I know maybe a few missions verses. (But I guess 51% of those in my country don’t even know one missions verse!) For those who do know some missions verses, they can come up with a couple, 15 maybe if they’re really good! But they could be thinking, “There are 31,000 verses in the Bible. If there are 15 verses about missions, is it really that important?” That’s a “why?” question!
So, we as mission advocates, as missions mobilizers, need to be ready to show people that missions is a theme that goes from Genesis all the way through to the book of Revelation and ties the whole story of the Bible together. We have to be able to do that in a creative, new way for each generation.
Share Information About the Task Remaining
When you’re talking about inspiring the mind, compelling information is important. We have amazing sources for information about missions and about the world, like the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Operation World, and Joshua Project. Others have done the work to show where the people groups are and what the need is, and we can get that and make sure it gets to the people who are praying and the people who are giving, and the people who are going.
Part of our job as mission advocates is to connect our communities to the information that’s out there. I like to share bits and pieces people can remember, like the fact that 86% of the Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims in the 10/40 Window do not have a Christian friend. That’s the kind of information people can remember.
But we have to be careful with information because sometimes we can use information like a club and pound people with it. And if we push too hard with information or in the wrong way, people push back, right? They close their hearts. They close their minds. So the information is good. But I found that actually, stories inspire even better than information!
Remember We’re Wired for Stories
Think of a time you were listening to somebody talking and giving lots of information. But then they say, “I want to tell you a story.” I don’t know about you, but when somebody says “Once upon a time” or starts to tell a story, I start to listen in a whole new way. I listen better. And that story is often the only thing I remember.
It seems that just about every culture in the world loves stories, and often actually prefers to get important ideas through stories.
It seems that just about every culture in the world loves stories, and often actually prefers to get important ideas through stories. So we should learn to grow as storytellers, to develop and practice the art of storytelling.
The Story God Is Telling
I find it very fruitful to reframe missions as a story God is telling. We can talk about the task and we can talk about the need. Those things are real. We can give lots of charts and statistics about unreached people groups. But what about the reality that this is actually a big story God is telling? All the things we love about a story, whether it’s a movie or a book, are actually in the story that God is telling.
If we like romantic stories, well, guess what? God is our bridegroom God, and he’s in love with his bride. And missions is not just a task, it’s inviting and preparing the bride for the party at the end of the story. And that bride is made up of every nation, tongue, and tribe, right? You see, it’s a romance story!
If you like action stories, hey, this story has that! There’s a bad guy who led a revolt and is still creating problems. And we take real risks and are invited to pray dangerous prayers like, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” We go do crazy things for the kingdom of God! That is the reality. That’s part of this story.
This Story Includes an Invitation
If we reframe missions in light of the story God is telling, it’s much more inspirational. And missions is not just a task; it comes with an invitation to ordinary people just like us. He loves to use people just like us to play key roles in the story: fishermen, tax collectors, and people who may have no skills or finances.
Let me just close with a story for you. This is a story about an amazing Asian couple, friends of mine. The husband had been involved in missions for some time, and then he met an amazing lady and they got married. But his new wife was not at all sure she wanted to be a missionary.
They did a Discipleship Training School. I had the privilege of teaching on missions for one week in their school. I approached missions not as task and need and duty, but as the privilege to be a part of an amazing story God is telling, a story filled with romance and adventure. And she caught that. It brought her to the place where she was able to say “yes” to God’s invitation to be a missionary.
Now, together as a couple, they have been doing an amazing job mobilizing many workers into their country and from their country to other places.
Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash