Inspire the Mind!
Missions Mobilization Principles – Part 2 of 3 – Transcript
Let’s talk about inspiring the mind. How do we inspire the mind? We need to inspire ourselves first. Yes! But once we are enthused, what do we do to inspire the mind of others? It’s important to think about the mind because we are created in the image of God, and that means we think about things. We can love God with our heart, soul, and mind. And in the west, we have a big challenge here because, for example, a research organization named Barna did a big survey and came back with the results that 51% of the people going to Church in my country did not know what the Great Commission was. So we have a lot to do in the area of education, inspiring the mind of the believers in my country, in all Western countries, to understand, to re-understand what missions is and what their part is in it. Wow, a lot to do there!
In the Global South, Asia, Africa, Latin America it is a different kind of challenge. Now we see leaders there rising up and saying, Yes, we can send workers to the nations!’ And I have had the privilege of a front-row seat in my organization to meet personally, meet face to face, many Latin American men and women, Asian men and women, African men and women. And these guys are incredible. They have strong character. They have a clear call to the nations. They even have training and equipping to some degree. What they don’t have is support. So, I just think that is a mobilization challenge, that we need many more leaders who are not only going to train those who will go, but train those who will stay. And help those who stay understand their privilege and responsibility to pray for those who go and to give and support those who go. We need mobilizers of the senders, mobilization of the senders.
So another key in inspiring the mind that I’ve found is to make sure we answer the question, Why? To prioritize answering the question why? Because often we can jump into, especially regarding missions, we can jump into where we should do missions, how we should do missions, who we should do missions to, all kinds of important things. But we should start with, Why? Why should I care? 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 will be motivated to learn the other things. But inspiring the mind, really, we have to prioritize that. And a key for answering the question, why is to be ready as missions mobilizer, to give a good case for what the Bible says about missions. Because many people are actually thinking, hey, I know maybe a few missions verses. I guess 51% of those in my country don’t even know one missions verse. But 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 is like 31,000 verses in the Bible. If there are 15 verses about missions, is it really that important? See, that’s a why question. So we as mission advocates, missions mobilizer need to really show actually, 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. And we have to be really able to do that in a creative new way for each generation.
Another key part of inspiring the mind is that when we have a conversation with people, we try to clarify what we mean when we say words like “missionary” or “missions”, because sometimes the conversation and the mobilization is not so fruitful because those words become so watered down, so inclusive that they lose all meaning. So there is real strong effort to define missions clearly, and reclaim the biblical understanding of missions. And we should be a part of that as mission advocates.
Also, information is important when you’re talking about inspiring the mind. We want to understand. And part of that is giving information. And there’s amazing sources of information, like the center for the Study of Global Christianity or the Operation World Books or Joshua Project. There are these places that have done 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. Right? That’s our job is to connect our community to the information that’s out there. So, information, yes! That’s key! I like one little information sound bite that I like so much is that 86% of the Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims in the 1040 window do not have a Christian friend. That’s a piece of information that they can remember.
But we have to be careful with information, because sometimes we can use information kind of like a club and just really pound 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 information is good. But I found that actually stories inspire even better than information. Think about that yourself, right? Maybe you have been listening to somebody talking like me, and they’re giving lots of information, but then they say a story. And 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 often that’s the only thing I remember is that story. Isn’t that true? It seems like just about every culture in the world loves stories, and it actually prefers to get the important ideas through stories. And so we can actually learn how to grow as storytellers, as leaders, how can we develop and practice the art of storytelling.
Okay, so even with the whole idea of missions, I found it very fruitful to actually reframe missions as a story that God is telling because 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. Yes, all of that is true. But what about this reality that this is actually a big story that God is telling, that actually has all the elements that make a good story, good. All the things we love about a story, whether it’s a movie or a book, those elements, those things 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. And also, if you like the action stories, hey, this story has that! There’s a bad guy, there’s a bad guy who loved a revolt, and is still creating problems. And we take real risks and are invited to pray dangerous prayers like “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven” to just go, do crazy things for the Kingdom of God. That is reality, that’s happening in this story.
So we could tell missions, reframe missions in light of the story, and it’s much more inspirational. This idea that missions is not just a task, but it’s an invitation to ordinary people just like us. Fishermen, tax collectors, little people who have no finances, no skills. He loves to use people just like us and to play key roles in the story.
All right, so 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. And yet together they did a Discipleship Training School. And I had the privilege of teaching on missions for one week in their school. And I approached missions not as task and need and duty, but as this privilege to be a part of this amazing story that God is telling and how it’s filled with romance and adventure. And she caught that, and it brought her to the place where she was able to say “yes” to God’s invitation to be a missionary. And now they together as a couple have been doing an amazing job of mobilizing many workers into their country and even out of their country.