A pastor asked me one time about the missional strategy behind The Gospel Project. “We’ve got people in small groups who study the Scriptures but aren’t involved in reaching out to their community with the gospel,” he said. “How can I get them motivated?”
In response, I mentioned how our natural tendency as church leaders is to reinforce the commands related to our mission, to tell people again and again what they should be doing. We think, If they aren’t reaching out to represent and proclaim Christ, they must not know what to do.
But is this really the case? In my experience, the problem isn’t that we’ve forgotten our responsibility to love our neighbor and share the gospel. The problem is that even when we know what our duty is, we still don’t do it.
That’s why I’m convinced that focusing most of your teaching on our missional duty isn’t the best way to motivate people to serve Christ long-term. It may result in some initial fruit, but it doesn’t effect the heart-change necessary for long-lasting obedience.
So what to do?
Exalt God. Magnify His holiness. Praise His greatness. Exult in His grace.
Set the magnificent, majestic God of the Bible before your people week after week, and pray that they will encounter Him for who He is. Why? Because it’s an encounter with an awesome God that motivates us to mission.
Case in point: our biblical heroes. As you read through the Bible, you’ll notice that whenever people come face to face with God’s greatness, the next scene often shows them on mission.
- Moses trembles before God in the burning bush. Next he is standing before Pharaoh saying, “Let my people go!” The majesty of God displayed before Moses’ eyes on a faraway hillside is the same majesty God displays before the greatest empire of the day.
- Isaiah caught a vision of the Lord in His temple that was so staggering that he fell on his face like a dead man. Notice God didn’t even have to tell him what to do. God simply asks, “Who shall go?” and the awestruck Isaiah volunteers: “Here am I. Send me!”
- The Samaritan woman at the well was amazed at the supernatural knowledge of Jesus. Next we see her running into town telling her friends and family about His greatness.
- The women at the tomb are the first to witness the resurrection power of God. Next we see them telling everyone, “We have seen the Lord!”
- Peter denies Christ and hides. After encountering the greatness of King Jesus, we see him boldly proclaiming Christ as Messiah and Lord before thousands of people.
- After Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus, he spends the rest of his life seeking to help the Gentiles see the very One who initially blinded him.
Why should it be any different with us? Missional fruitfulness comes from a heart gripped by God’s greatness and enthralled with His grace.
May we be so mesmerized by the glory of Jesus Christ that we count it as nothing to lose our lives for the spread of His fame! Let’s get on our faces before God and then get on our feet for His mission.