By Joel Southerland
Too often we settle for the status quo. We assume this is just the way life is. We get comfortable with the way things have always been.
But our God is a God who challenges us to push past the expected—to reach wider, love deeper, go farther.
This is true in our personal and professional lives, as well as in our churches.
When it comes to missions, the status quo often has been to invite people to church and let the pastor tell them about Jesus.
As pastors, you are called to preach the gospel. You are called to invite people into a relationship with Jesus Christ from the pulpit every week and from your booth at the coffee shop every morning. You are to open the Word, to challenge, and to extol.
But every one of your church members is called to share the gospel as well. Each man and woman skilled in his or her own way and role, each family living in their neighborhood is called to take part in His history-sweeping mission.
From high school students to retirees, from soccer coaches to business executives, every believer has a part in the greatest story ever told.
So what does this mean for you, pastor? A redefinition of missions for your people might mean they voice their convictions at work, start a gospel conversation at lunch, or invite their daughter’s piano teacher over for dinner.
How do they get there?
They need an equipper, a motivator, a leader. Every great team has vision and knows the end goal. Pastors must redefine ordinary and set the highest calling before their congregations.
The message remains the same, but your approach must become more intentional. You must challenge your church body to desire that every person in their lives experiences the same love and grace they have come to know.
Teach how to integrate gospel truths into everyday conversations. Model a lifestyle that weaves hospitality, grace, and spiritual truths into the rhythms of everyday life.
Research done by the North American Mission Board in 2014 showed that of the top baptizing churches in North America: 82 percent of large churches, 83 percent of medium-sized churches, and 86 percent of normative-sized churches train their members how to share their faith at least once per year.
The correlation between baptism numbers and proactive evangelistic training is simply not debatable. We must not tell people to share their faith; we must instruct (and show) them how to do so.
There’s a reason taglines and advertising stick in our heads. Repetition works.
Clearly and articulately laying out the gospel each week in your sermons provides an invitation for those in attendance, while also providing language to the believers in your congregation to share on their own during the week.
Walk alongside people as they develop relationships and have gospel conversations. Celebrate every bold step of someone sharing their faith just as you would a new believer coming to faith.
This not only creates excitement and shows growth, but the entire community can now share in praying for, and celebrating when, fruit develops.
As we call our people to join God in His global mission, we must equip them. They must know the answer for the hope they have and be ready and able to share it when asked.
Loving their neighbor, investing in their community, and forgiving a co-worker is countercultural. It should, and will, draw questions.
Not only must we ask our people to live lives on mission, but we must ready them and resource them to respond when asked why they live like they do.
JOEL SOUTHERLAND is evangelism executive director of the North American Mission Board.
Join other church leaders, business leaders, families, and students at the Send Conference 2017 in Dallas, May 19-20, or Orlando, July 25-26.
Learn the many ways to live on mission yourself as well as how to provide tangible resources to every person in your church to take their next missional step. Learn more at SendConference.com.