What Is Our Mission Strategy At New Covenant Bible Church?
After my most recent trip to Morocco with David Sunday and Ross Stern, I had some very interesting conversations with people in my work world who really wanted to know what missions is about and how our church is involved. Most of these people are nominally involved in churches and have little or no understanding of what the Great Commission is or even begin thinking about how they or their own church should be involved.
You can imagine that these conversations provide an interesting avenue into evangelism when I can get below the surface with these folks. Because, ultimately our mission strategy is rooted in two things – the Gospel and the Church.
As I was considering what to write about for this article it became clear to me that I speak about our mission strategy to many outside the church, but seldom articulate it within New Covenant. You might get glimpses of our strategy for missions from our quarterly mission emphasis in adult Sunday school or by way of an interview of a missionary or maybe even from our reports from the field or at the mission conference we had a few years ago. But did you know that the Apostle Paul’s missionary work is where we look for our primary values and therefore the core of our strategy to reach the world with the Gospel?
Five Core Pauline Strategies for Missions
The role of the Apostle Paul and the missionary journeys that he undertook by the direction of the Holy Spirit, provide excellent insights into how the church multiplies and expands.
In the second half of Acts we see the starting point of Paul’s missionary endeavors. Looking back at Acts 1:8, Jesus himself at the Ascension told the disciples “…you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth…” Thus the table was set for the expansion of the church. Paul’s role emerges after the gospel had already made its way into Judea and Samaria. Now it will begin to reach southern and central Asia Minor, Cyprus (Acts 12:25-16:5), Philippi, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Europe (16:6-19:20), and Rome (19:21-28:31). For all practical purposes – this was the end of the earth to those in the first century.
The first place that believers were called Christians was in Antioch, and Paul helped establish the church there. It would be from there that we would see a church, led by the Holy Spirit, make a commitment to send out missionaries. Paul and Barnabas were commissioned and sent (Acts 13:1-3). At New Covenant we also commission our missionaries to the field to which we believe God has called them. While not one of the five strategies listed below, you could certainly see that our method of deployment mirrors that of the church in Antioch.
So as Paul and Barnabas are sent, we begin to see the primary aspects of Paul’s missionary work unfold. Here are five core strategies that he employed repeatedly:
1. He evangelized strategic cities and established churches “…not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” (Rom 15:20-21 with reference to Isaiah 52:15)
In these places he would first attempt to witness to the Jews, but as they would reject the gospel - he would turn to the Gentiles. Eventually he would state “…because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles…” (Rom 15:15,16).
But what did he do in these cities?
• He instructed the new believers (Acts 14:22),
• He organized these communities of believers into local churches that would become:
(Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)
o Self-governing (Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28),
o Self-supporting (1 Tim 5:17), and
o Self-propagating (multiplying) (1 Thess 1:6-8).
In essence, Paul was a church planter. (Acts 15:36-16:5)
2. He “passed the baton” to the elders of these local churches to continue the process of developing the body and replicating the process of sending missionaries into the world (Acts 20:17-28).
3. He commanded the leaders to train others in the same manner he had trained them (2 Tim 2:2). Discipleship is one primary aspect of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19).
4. He encouraged the churches to be of one mind in their striving together for the furtherance of the gospel (Phil 1:57, 27; 2:22; 4:3, 15).
5. He left them with instructions for ordering a local church (Pastoral Epistles: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus).
These five strategies might seem simple, but they are foundational to what we value in missions and missionaries. It is around these strategies that we prioritize our support and commitment to send missionaries into the world. To that end, we look for the God given ability in every missionary to be involved in or support one, two or all of these things. We also rejoice that our church here in the Fox Valley region is committed to practicing these core strategies locally.
When people ask me why I go on a trip like the one we took to Morocco, I don’t go immediately into this detail about our strategy and values for missions, but I can sum it up in this statement: “We go to encourage our missionaries as they labor for Christ to be His witness, establish His church, disciple His followers and teach them to be unified and obedient to His commands.”
You would be surprised the doors of opportunity that even that simple statement can open. Try it yourselves – for you see, missions is not just for missionaries we officially send into the world. It is our mission as well.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” One aspect of our very purpose as believers in Jesus Christ is to proclaim Him in every circumstance and every place. Go therefore into the world!
Michael Jacoby, GO Team Chairman