Adventures with Jesus
- Jesus is a person of adventure – a risk taker and a history maker. He stepped out of the comforts of heaven and down into the earth he created. Talk about risk! While on earth, Jesus was always pressing the boundaries, stepping into new territory, crossing into forbidden zones and breaking conservative mindsets. Jesus was not safe and predictable. He was radical. He was a revolutionary in the positive sense of the word. Even his disciples were often surprised at his actions.
Jesus calls his followers to follow Him and join in the adventure of knowing the Father and extending the kingdom of God throughout the earth. He told his disciples that God’s kingdom was forcefully advancing and forceful people are laying hold of it. We serve a God who has a pioneer spirit. He’s always pushing us into new things and into new territories.Church History
– Unfortunately, many Christ-followers throughout history have lost that sense of adventure and become very comfortable and complacent. They have lost the pioneer spirit of the Master and become settlers or conservatives who seek to merely preserve the status quo. Notice the slowness of the disciples to catch the vision for world evangelisation. God’s love for the Gentiles is constantly stated in the Bible (especially the OT), yet the people of Israel failed to see their role as a blessing to the world. The Jews saw the coming of the Messiah in terms of military conquest of the Gentile nations. The furthest the Jews were prepared to go was to welcome individual Gentiles as proselytes, but only after rigorous initiation. This is why Jesus appeared so radical – he reached out to the despised Samaritans, Greeks, traitorous tax-collectors and the hated Romans. Even just before Jesus’ ascension, the disciples wanted to know about when God would restore the kingdom to Israel. After Pentecost, the disciples were so caught up in the amazing revival and enormous church growth that they failed to move to the wider implementation of the Great Commission. It took a number of years and much persecution to finally get the church to actually move outside of Jerusalem with the intent to bringing others to Christ. In fact, it was through the martyrdom of Stephen and the preaching of Phillip that they finally spread outside Jerusalem. It took the church at Antioch, rather than the Jerusalem church, to finally become a launching pad for world evangelisation. Then the apostles began to go to distant lands and peoples with the gospel. The NT church eventually obeyed.
Over the next few centuries, the Christian church grew exponentially, despite persecution from the Roman Empire. Secular historians estimates that by the year 300 AD there were over 6 million Christians, around 10% of the population at that time, which is phenomenal when you consider that it started with only a few 1000 people just after Jesus’ ascension in 33 AD. That’s a growth rate of 40% per decade. Unfortunately, after these few centuries of expansion, mission almost disappeared from the church for 1500 years. There was little interest in world evangelisation during this long period of time. Mission was sidelined from the central place it has in God’s heart. The focus was on doctrine, church structures and personal spirituality.
Yes, there has been some missionary effort throughout the history of the church but usually through a few, and not through the mainstream of the church.
The church’s understanding of Scripture is often viewed through spectacles the filter out mission. We focus so easily on the blessing God as for us and miss our mandate to be a blessing to others. We have been saved because of mission and now we have the awesome responsibility to win others as part of our mission. The doctrine of salvation (soteriology) must not be separated for the doctrine of missions (missiology).
Most early doctrinal statements that were prepared to formulate the theology of the church, failed to even mention mission. Most of these, including the famous Apostle’s Creed, were formulated to combat heresy. There is no single word about the church and its responsibility to a lost world. Even today, many seminaries teach missiology as an optional extra subject for those interested in this branch of learning. Most theologians, including Luther and Calvin, virtually ignored mission. Even the recovery of the Bible in the Reformation did not result in a surge in world evangelisation. Survival, rather than expansion, was the major issue.
All of this has resulted in a mindset in many churches which has almost excluded mission altogether or has pushed it to the sideline of what the church is all about. Our own needs are so great that we easily neglect the mission mandate, leaving it to the few “mission-heads” who feel the call. Sadly, mission has not been seen as a priority for every Christian.Gathering the Harvest
- Thankfully over the last 200 years there has been an incredible escalation in world evangelisation, both local and global. Research has led to mobilisation, goal-setting and staggering growth in numbers of Christians and churches around the world. After many years of barrenness and retreat, the church started to become the church militant and triumphant, at least, in parts. There have been waves of mission activity, church planting, Bible translation, media ministry and prayer initiatives. God’s hand is moving, the church is growing and the task is being completed.The Biblical Basis for Mission
- Mission has been in God’s heart since eternity. Jesus was the first missionary of the gospel. Then he said to his disciples, “As the Father sent me, so send I you” (Jn.20:21). God calls us to share in his mission. The promise of Matthew 28:20 that he would be with us, is given to those who are actively going and making disciples. The dominant theme during Jesus’ 40 days after His resurrection was world evangelisation. At the end of every gospel, and then again just before He ascended to the Father, He clearly gave command that they should evangelise every person and make disciples of every people group. The Great Commission involved evangelism, teaching, church planting, sending and a global focus. The very last words Jesus spoke to His disciples were on the Mount of Olives just before His ascension. He gave another aspect of the Great Commission (see Acts 1:8). This is an incredible global mission!World Impact
- Here at CityLife Church, mission is not just a side activity for the dedicated few. It is core to why we exist as a church community. It is central to why God has us here on earth. That’s why it is part of our mission statement – “Our mission is to raise up fervent followers of Jesus Christ who will reach out and impact communities, cities and nations for the kingdom of God.” The World Impact ministry specifically exists to carry out this part of our mission and its specific mission is: planting and empowering churches across cultures to impact unreached people. Planting churches internationally and assisting church planting movements we are in partnership with is our focus for all future mission activity. That’s because we believe it is the church that is the hope of the world and what every community needs. The church is what Jesus is building and that’s what we want to build. The church then carries the gospel to its local community and region. ‘Church planting’ has been proven to be the best way to evangelize people. Paul, the greatest missionary of all time, was a church planter. He didn’t just win isolated people to Christ or conduct ministry. He established communities of faith that would grow and then reproduce themselves. Over the next few years and into the next decade our desire is to see thriving CityLife Churches in a number of strategic cities around the world that will be hubs for the surrounding region. Yes, we’ll continue to send short term teams. Yes, we’ll continue to commission individuals to the mission field. However, all of this activity will take on a greater degree of focus as we seek to see churches planted and raised upACTIV8
- For Christians, mission is not an optional extra for the fanatical few or for the specially anointed. It is central to who we are in Christ and why we are on planet earth. A church without mission is no longer truly a church and a Christian without mission is not a true disciple. The question is not whether mission is for us or whether it should be part of our ministry. The question is, “What is our part in mission because we are believers?” Mission needs to be in every heart – local, national and global. God is calling every Christian to ACTIV8 their faith and become a world Christian … partnering in God’s incredible global mission in our generation. EVERY Christian is called to world impact. No, you can’t do everything but you can do something and TOGETHER we can make a huge impact for Christ. It’s time to ACTIV8 our faith.
- Pray – become an intercessor who prays for the needs of others. There is no end to the needs right now. Pray for workers (existing and future), pray for the lost, pray for leaders and authorities, pray for resources, pray for favour, pray for breakthroughs, etc.
- Give – invest your financial resources into the most important project on the planet: reaching people for Christ both near and far. Make World Impact a priority in your giving strategy. Make a planned financial Partnership in Missions commitment for the coming year. Be a regular giver of offerings to missions. Support a specific worker or project (designated giving).
- Go – Jesus commands us to ‘go’. Where – across the street, across the office floor, into the community, to a new group, to a new ministry, be part of a new congregation, another nation, etc. Get out of your comfort zone and just GO. Get a passport and visit another place. Go to where the poor and needy are. Position yourself for God to use you and change you forever. Consider becoming a mission worker, a short-term mission team. Take your whole LifeGroup to another nation!
- Share a personal experience (of any kind) where you were afraid but pushed through the fear. How did it feel and what did you learn from it?
- Discuss the concept of Jesus as a person of ‘adventure’. Share some examples.
- Why do you think mission was sidelined in the church for so many centuries?
- Ask those who have participated in any kind of mission work in another nation to share their experience. What did they learn? What was most difficult? What was most enjoyable? Open it up for questions.
- Discuss the pray, give and go strategy. How could your LifeGroup do these even better?
- Finish with prayer for CityLife Church and our mission to ‘impact nations’, especially through church planting.