Carrying on the Mission of Jesus through the Power of Prayer
The director of mission for the Church of Wales said to me mark of healthy growing congregations is that they are going deeper in prayer and the number of people in serious Bible Study is growing. I knew immediately that my congregation's future was secure because we are there in those two aspects of our life, so let me pass on something from this pastor's desk about something very close to my heart, prayer and evangelism.
We do not need to write mission statements-we have no mission but the mission of
Because it is inspired, ?God breathed,' we know Scripture is from God, about God, therefore, God's will for us. Scripture tells us that God has plans for effective ministry, so a) we do not need to come up with the plan, and, b) our plan could very well not be God's plan. God's effective ministers need the Holy Spirit, a) to read the plan and for the faith to believe and, b) to contextualize it (your members in your neighborhood). Remember, because the Word proceeds from the Father and does not return void, and the Holy Spirit is the power behind the proclaimed Word, we really just need to participate.
Again, the knowledge we need to be Christians and to do ministry is pretty straight forward: The Word is the Spirit's instrument in creating faith. The Word tells us that not only are we saved, we are sanctified, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We react to this news with joy, we go forth in joy, we rejoice that God is going to do the work of ministry and equip us with everything we need: we are mainly witnesses to it, but we do need to show up.
To be is simply to love. Worship is the primary way we love God: we confess, we are forgiven, we praise, we pray, we proclaim, we sing, we dance, we commune. We love and are loved, in a trinity of God, individual, and community. To be is to love.
Hearing the Word does more than make us feel better, more than convince us that life can be meaningful and inspire us to action. This it does, but mysteriously more, the Word creates faith, it cleans, it prepares us. Faith literally makes us righteous.
Faith calls a community together, a community that clings to each other and
This ongoing experience of new life leads to the development of religious affections, chiefly gratitude to God and love for our fellow creatures. Affections are part of the very religious being of the listener, not so much as a place to go but a place where one lives, from where activity comes forth. Religious affections are developed through worship, the knowledge of the righteousness of God, the experience of God's grace, goodness and gifts gives a love for God and a compassion for humanity from which springs forth missionary activity: know, be, do. Hence, affections are more than emotions for which to appeal, rather they are an additional vehicle for God's plan for humanity.
We know God's love and will for us, because "the Bible told me so," but we also know because we have experienced it, and because we do it. All three are significant. We've discussed the first two, not by listening to something new that we now have to decide upon, but we listened to Scripture again, and we reflected on our experiencing those very things, grateful for that which we have had a fullness, and yearningly perhaps for that which we have not had enough. Either way, we have done this as a trusting community. Now we have to go and do.
Even here, though, we are not hearing anything for the first time, we are not inexperienced. We have learned by doing. What we need to grasp is that enormity of what it is God intends to do -- reconcile the whole creation - and that is going to be done by us, we the Church. We do not have a similar, or parallel mission to Jesus, we do His mission or we are lying. Thanks be to God, we have
God supplies the plan and the power to proceed and succeed. God gives us all this in prayer. Prayer is not an add-on feature but is the thing which along with faith runs through each conscious occurence of life in Christ. Gathered in diversity, gifted for ministry, united in love, we do what Christ did and blesses still: proclaiming and practicing Christ's grace. In the power of the Holy Spirit people are restored to wholeness, community and eternal life. People are restored physically, emotionally, relationally, mentally as we pray and work for their healing.
We do not say, "Be fed! Be warm," rather prayer emboldens us to invite ourselves into relationship with those who need food, who need warmth. We invite ourselves into relationship with those who need to hear for the first time the Word that heals down into the inmost heart, the Word that cleans, the Word that births faith, conversion and initiation into the Christian community.
*Know-Be-Do comes from Steve Land. See his A Passion for the Kingdom if you want to get serious about empowerment for mission.