Archive for the ‘Mission’ Category

Great piece from Sammy Maina, programme coordinator at iServe Africa:


The Messiah has risen. Yes he is alive from the dead. And word has been sent out to His disciples and that they should go to Galilee and there they will see the risen Christ. Off they go [the eleven of them] to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.

Finally the moment had come for him to ascend to the Father. What would he say?

When they saw Him, they worshipped, but some doubted.  Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Are these the words they expected to hear? I don’t know what the disciples expected to hear. But what am sure of, is that what Jesus said, had a huge of impact not only to the lives of the 11 disciples but also to all those who would ever follow Christ.

What was Jesus central mission on earth?

Jesus’ mission was His Father’s mission and the mission was to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). For this to happen first and foremost Jesus had to die to bear the curse and burden and punishment of his people, and second the good news of salvation (the gospel) had to be preached to all peoples because the Father’s love is global (Matt. 8:11-12; 4:42) and salvation comes through hearing and believing in the gospel word (John 3:16).

But now that Jesus was returning to the Father, He had to ensure that God’s mission to draw peoples from all nations to himself was accomplished. Just as the Father had sent the Son (Jesus) so was Jesus to send out His disciples (then and now) to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21). And that is what the risen Christ was calling His disciples to. This is what came to be known as the great commission. Looking at the book of Acts, it’s evident that the 11 disciples didn’t just listen to Jesus’ command but actually went forth to preach the good news from Jerusalem, to the uttermost parts of the earth. They did not just “go and tell” but they “went, told and made disciples”.

Is the great commission only about going out to another country?

No, it’s more than that. But sadly unlike the 11 disciples some of us today over-emphasise “the going”. “The commission is not fundamentally about mission out there somewhere else in another country.

It is a commission that makes disciple-making the normal agenda and priority of every church and every Christian disciple. (The Trellis and the Vine,  Marshall & Payne, 2009, p. 13)

What is the essential goal of the church?

The goal of the church is making disciples. Simply defined a disciple is a pupil or, if you like, a student and follower of another person and/or his teachings. The disciple does not only learn, but also meditates and acts upon the teachings. As Christians we are Jesus’ pupils. Discipleship is personal. And discipleship is a process. It’s not as instant as coffee or as quick as sending and receiving money via M-Pesa. Discipleship calls for commitment and hard work. When Jesus called the disciples, he taught them, nurtured them, mentored them, prayed for them and walked the talk. And part of following him was to be made into fishers of men. Therefore the church should make disciples who make other disciples.

What’s the simplest to do between a) discipling and b) going to out to preach the gospel?

The other day I posed this question to some of my friends and colleagues. These were answers I got:

  • discipleship is handwork but doable;
  • discipleship requires a lot of commitment and dedication;
  • discipleship has got to be deliberate and there must be a plan on how to do it.

Enough said. I couldn’t agree more. Discipleship is hard work but doable.

What is required to make disciples?

To make disciples, you have got to have disciple makers. Disciple makers are Christians who have already been discipled. This doesn’t mean that they have attained perfection and are no longer disciples. Until one goes to be with Christ (whether by being called home or when Christ returns) one remains His disciple. The 11 were not anywhere near perfect.  Nonetheless they had already gone through the “Jesus Discipleship School” – particularly in those crucial 40 days between His resurrection and ascension when Jesus opened their eyes to see Him and His Kingdom in all the Scriptures and sent them out to preach that message (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:2-3). Jesus knew that it would not be easy, all through. The disciples were to encounter a number of challenges and face death daily. But Jesus did not leave them helpless. He promised that he would be with them to end of the age. He gave them what they needed for the task ahead of them. He gave them his Word (Luke 24:44-46), his Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49) and more so His grace (Luke 24:36).

So by God’s strength, the 11 disciples (and Paul) made disciples that made disciples. Consequently, as we see throughout the book of Acts, multiplication resulted and many followed Christ not just as disciples but as workers making more disciples.

Making disciples is by grace and to grace

As we seek to make disciples, it’s worth underling this point that making disciples is by grace and that as disciplers we are directing people to Christ. To begin with it is by grace that we become Disciples of Christ (saved by grace); it is by grace that we remain his disciples and follow Him (sustained by grace); and it is by grace that we serve Christ. When we keep that in mind, we will disciple others in humility; we will be patient with them as they grow in Christ to maturity; we will rebuke them in love when necessary.

Most importantly, in discipleship we point or direct people to Christ. By all means the discipler must be a good example for others to learn from (imitating them as they follow and imitate Christ). But it is Jesus that all should follow and become like. Everything that the disciple does has to be done in light of the Christ’s gospel.

At iServe Africa we are passionate about Christ’s mission and his command to make disciples. And ours is not just a passion. But we are in active pursuit of the same. Every year we seek to make disciple-making disciples, through our apprenticeship programme. We train, mentor and equip young men and women, and send them out to make disciples. It’s not the very easiest thing to do. Even so Jesus’ promise to be with us to the end of age is always of encouragement to us.


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More tweets:

Joy through tears. Life through death. #Paradoxology

Knees on the floor. Nose in the text. (2 Tim 2:7) @DickLucas

Anything outside of Christ or not rooted in Him or full of the gospel is not genuine Christian spirituality. #SoWalkInHim

Is a 21 day fast > 1 day fast? Non-Christian spiritual disciplines: greater –> results. Christian spirituality: grace –> receiving.

Spiritual disciplines: those things we do by the grace of God to keep us living under the grace of God (Jude 20-23) @SammyMaina

ChristianMind =  a mind which can think about even the most “secular” topics “Christianly” (HarryBlamires)

ATR initiation – new life, identity, behaviour; boy –> man. Xian conversion – new life, identity, behaviour; man –> boy. (Matt 18:4)

Genesis 3 Hide&Seek: Who is hiding? Who is seeking? #MissionaryGod

Apprentice: Now I realise that I’m not doing God a favour by volunteering for this year. He doesn’t need my help in his mission. #Privilege



And two very helpful papers on ATR:

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2014-08-24 16.14.23

Thanking God for a good day yesterday. Here are the notes so far:

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From Job 2:11-25:6:

  • Job is sitting in gehenna/hell, unrecognisable (Isa. 52:14), a man of sorrows, acquainted with every kind of grief (Isa. 53:3).
  • Job’s ‘comforters’ throw at him verses like “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
  • Job’s great hope is beyond death, beyond the destruction of his flesh, in resurrection life and seeing his Redeemer face to face (Job 19:25-27).
  • Fidel movingly concluded with a powerful personal testimony – things may not be better in this life but in the end there is a new body and seeing Christ – that is our hope.

Later in the day it was a privilege to have with us a missionary family serving among largely unreached people in the north of Kenya. They shared:

  1. Mission is God focussed; mission is God’s heart from Genesis to Revelation; mission is to gather people from all ‘ethne’ (meaning all people groups); “Mission exists because worship doesn’t.” (Piper, Let the Nations be Glad).
  2. The great Abrahamic blessing is fulfilled in the NT in terms of justification in Christ (Gal. 3) and turning us from our wickedness to God (Acts 3).
  3. There are real challenges in their mission context – insecurity, language, transport (waiting all day for a bus that never turns up then finally travelling with a small baby in the back of a lorry), communication (no reception), heat (up to 40 degrees C), lack of good drinking water, having to sacrifice ambitions (the Kenyan dream) and the misunderstanding of family and friends – but all these can be overcome in God’s grace.
  4. Most striking of all, the brother shared about tensions with family as a firstborn with nine siblings, educated and expected (and wanting) to help. He talked about Mt. 10:37-39 and how he had at the same time done his best to keep communication channels open and then about how it was actually the best thing for his family for him to go because they had started to look at him as a god-provider and they needed to break from that and seek the real God. He was a clear that there was no promise that they would not go hungry some days or sometimes suffer for his decision to go but it was for their spiritual good and he had already seen some fruit in a brother now interested in becoming a missionary himself and other siblings growing in their relationships with the Lord. Amazing testimony.

Also today:

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return christ

What really struck me from the last few days of the ministry training course last week was the emphasis that came out on the future, eternity, our great Hope.

I’d never noticed what Fidel brought home so powerfully from 2 Tim. 4:1-2 that the number one reason to preach the word is the return of Christ. We are preaching in the last days a gospel of eternal life in view of the coming Day (cf. 2 Tim. 1:1, 10, 18; 2:10; 3:1; 4:8).

We found that the reason to put to death our ungodly desires (Col. 3:5) is because Christ, who is our life, is about to appear and we will be glorified with him (Col. 3:4).

Sammy reminded us from Job that the end comes at the end, and in the same session one of the apprentices very movingly shared how she had been through times when she desired to depart and be with Christ more than cling to this life. This in turn resonated very strongly with the account we read from John Paton’s autobiography:

At last the child literally longed to be away, not for rest, or freedom from pain — for of that he had very little — but, as he himself always put it, “to see Jesus.”

How badly do we need this powerful injection of eternity into our Christian lives and churches?


Notes and resources:

Intro to Expository Preaching – Context

Christ-centred youth ministry

Being pro-active in mentoring

Preaching Christ from the Gospels (esp Matt)

How to manage email with filters and folders

2nd year programme:

The church as mission agency

Lessons from the life of John Paton

Doctrine of Salvation (2) – Predestination, Justification and the glory of God

Preaching from OT narratives

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munugishsignThat’s the motto of Munguishi Bible College, Arusha, Tanzania. Isn’t it brilliant? Recently they met together as a college staff team and went back to basics, looking at the Bible, looking at the Bible storyline and asking these great questions about what pastoral ministry and mission are all about:

  • Mungu ni nani?
  • Katika duniani, Mungu anafanya nini?
  • Kanisa ni nini?
  • Huduma ni nini?
  • Wachungaji ni nini?
  • Huduma ya wachungaji ni nini?

This was the college principal’s summary of what they came up with:

to be brief – God is saving people, holding off Jesus’ return to give more people a chance for repentance.  Jesus is calling to his sheep, by his Spirit and through his Word.  As his servants declare the gospel, Jesus’ sheep hear his voice, and respond in faith.
If that’s all true – what should we as pastors do – surely its to maximise the preaching of the gospel, and shape our ministries around seeing people meet the Lord Jesus in his word.

That’s saying a lot in 80 words!

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The church is Jesus’s body on earth. So we should be continuing Christ’s ministry on earth. Feeding, healing, blessing, lifting up the broken and marginalised. We are his body. Not just preaching at people – that would mean the church is just one big mouth – we need to be Jesus’ hands and feet to go to go to the needy and hungry and broken and care for them. That is the church’s mission.

Is that true?

Well there’s plenty of good sentiment in there about having compassion for the needy and marginalised. As John Piper said at the last Lausanne conference if we don’t care about physical suffering we’ve got defective hearts. We should be like our heavenly Father who sends rain on the just and the unjust and like the Son who blesses even his persecutors (Matt. 5:44-45). I find that very convicting.

But are we right to say that this is the church’s mission? I.e. what we are commissioned to go out into the world to do not just as children of God but as a church? In particular, can we draw this mission stuff out of Paul’s teaching that the church is the body of Christ?

As I’ve looked at the ‘body’ passages over the last week or two I’ve noticed that they have particular purposes:

  • Romans 12:3-8 – Do not be proud. There is diversity and unity. Use your gifts. (Most of the gifts seem to be for use within the church. ‘Ministry’ and ‘mercy’ are probably also within the fellowship given the immediate context (v9-13) but could be outside (v14,20) or both.)
  • 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 – Your bodies are members of Christ. Do not unite with a prostitute.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:17 – Unity in our communion with Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 – There is unity and diversity. Jews and Greeks are one. In your diversity of gifts do not have an inferiority complex. Do not be proud. You are needed by one another within the fellowship (v21-22). There should be care for one another within the fellowship (v25-26). (And in chapter 14 we find that the diversity of gifts/members is for building up the church (14:4-5,12,19,26 cf. 12:7)
  • Ephesians 1:22-23 – The headship of Christ for the church. The exalted position of the church in union with Christ.
  • Ephesians 2:15-16 – Reconciliation with God and with one another – Jews and Gentiles – through the Cross.
  • Ephesians 4:11-16 – The five-fold or four-fold (whichever you prefer) Word-teaching gifts are for equipping the whole church for works of ministry – not ministry out in the world so much as to build up the body of the church (v12). And this building up means not so much numbers but unity in the faith, knowledge of the Son and corporate Christlikeness (v13-15). Each part of the body is to work together to build up the body/church (v16).
  • Ephesians 5:23-32 – Christ saving, loving and nourishing the church.
  • Colossians 1:24-25 – The church suffering as the body of Christ. (cf. Acts 9:4)

The main ways the body picture seems to be used are:

  • Union with Christ, salvation
  • Union with one another, unity in diversity, serving one another and building one another up

I don’t see much mission here. Nothing about being Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Paul could easily have extended the metaphor in that direction but he doesn’t. The only explicit mentions of contact between the body and the outside world are about sin and persecution. When Paul talks about his mission – it’s all about preaching the gospel (Rom. 15:14-21; 1 Cor. 1:17; 9:16; 2 Cor. 4:1-6; 5:20; Col. 1:25-29; 4:3-6). When he talks about us doing mission together he uses metaphors of farming, building, business and warfare (1 Cor. 3:6-15; Phil. 1:5, 27; 2:25; 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:2-6) but not the body. Which is not to say that Christians shouldn’t be involved in alleviating all kinds of physical suffering etc. but it’s a reminder:

  1. that we need to be careful about our categories and vocabulary (esp. ‘mission’) and not press justifications for social action from texts not talking about that;
  2. that we need to look for the purpose of biblical metaphors and be careful not to cut them free of their context and run with them in all directions.

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