This is a guest post by Chad Davis. Chad serves as Pastor of The Venue Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Venue Church is a diverse body of believers seeking to cultivate followers of Christ in Gospel-Centered Communities. He is a graduate of William Carey University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Carmen, have twin daughters, Anna and Emma.
When we lead our people to a deeper love for the Father and his Kingdom, we will actively engage both our local context, and our global context with the good news of his kingdom.
Our Metronome for Sending
As I sit in front of my computer at a downtown pub in our city, my view of the downtown landscape from this window seat distracts me away from the task in front of me to the mosaic of people passing by on the street outside. In a conversation from earlier today, I was asked a question about our church family that has hijacked the majority of my thoughts. Sitting in the urban heart of a small city in Mississippi, USA, the question posed that continues to resonate in my mind is “how has your church created a culture of sending and multiplication?” Great question. Difficult answer.
What makes the answer to this question so difficult you may ask? The difficulty lies in knowing that the answer my friend is looking for is a systematic “how-to” process for sending and multiplication. The longer I meditate on this the quicker I come to the realization that what God has produced among our church is less of a systematic process, and more of a cultural expectation that serves as the metronome for the sending activity of our church.
Praise Over Process
In Psalm 96, the psalmist writes “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the Earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”
As I read these words, my heart stirs with emotion as I reflect on the majestic glory of God, his love for his creation (including the people in this city that I love), and his desire for the redirection of misplaced worship towards his glory in all nations. Through my time of reflection, I believe the answer lies in developing culture over method, affection over assimilation, and praise over process. I find three foundations at work in our church that I believe has led to a culture of global missions, an abandonment of comfort for the sake of this mission, and a willingness to be sent anywhere for the sake of the glory of God. If you desire to see God grow a sending culture among those you shepherd, I encourage you to lead in a way in which these foundations become the characteristics of your community:
1) Lead your church to a deeper love and affection for God.
If the people under your guidance do not love God above all other things, then they will never love his mission above all things. I believe that a strong culture of sending from the local church is directly connected to an unwavering and unparalleled love for the Father. What made the Psalmist write with such passion and purpose was that he had experienced the glory, splendor, and majesty of God and it had captured his heart. The attempt to motivate solely on statistics of lostness and facts about the condition of our world may stir believers at the emotional level, but this alone is unsustainable for a culture of missional sending. If the hearts of your people do not love God above all things, then there will always be limitations to their affections for sending and multiplication. Cultivate the heart of your people so that they love God “with all their heart and with all their soul, and with all their mind” and the fruit will be a lifetime of obedience to the calling of God for the mission.
2) Lead your church to a deeper love for the local context.
C.T Studd once said, “The light that shines farthest shines brightest nearest home.” As I sit in the gospel deep-end of the Southeast United States, I often feel as if the buckle of the Bible belt latches in our city; however, in the city where I pastor, there are tens of thousands of people who do not have a relationship with Jesus. Our city is saturated with religious activity, but so many we encounter have a cultural knowledge of the person of Jesus without having a relationship with Jesus. In the depths of my heart, God has grown in me a compassion for our city, and a broken heart for those who do not know Jesus personally. When our motivation for mission is the global glory of God, it will not only influence our international focus, but also make us intentional in local missions. A strong sending culture will be fueled by a strong compassion for those in our cities because we will see them as the lost children of God, and those that God can redeem, and use mightily to channel pathways from here to the unreached parts of our country and world.
3) Lead your church to a deeper love for the nations.
As I serve week after week in our city, my mind often drifts to the people and places around our world that God has allowed me to experience. The world in which we live in is vastly unreached. In fact, not only is the majority of the world unreached, but the majority of the world currently has no access to the gospel. Our missional approach must include a both/and focus not an either/or mindset. God has not called us generically to make as many disciples as possible, but to engage in his Great Commission plan to make many disciples among all nations and people groups. God is worthy of global adoration, and when we grasp this understanding as the Psalmist did, we will grow to love a diversity of people, and desire to reach the nations in order to provide a temporal glimpse into the eternal kingdom of diversity that God is building and unifying through the gospel.
The actions of God’s people are intimately connected to the affections of God’s people. When we lead our people to a deeper love for the Father and his Kingdom, we will actively engage both our local context, and our global context with the good news of his kingdom. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised!
How do you lead your community with people’s affections in mind and not merely their actions?
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