Jeff Christopherson is a church planter, pastor, author and Missiologist at the Send Institute – an interdenominational church planting and evangelism think tank.
For some of us, it’s hard to think about mission right now.
This sentiment is surely understandable—pastors and church leaders are scrambling to discern the best path forward to love and lead the sheep entrusted to their care. This work, combined with genuine personal anxiety about the coming crisis, sickness, and death, leaves many with little mental or emotional margin to consider how best to care for those outside of the flock.
Yet such efforts are needed, perhaps now more than ever. Our last decade stands as a condemning witness to almost every tribe for the lack of prioritization in disciple-making. Many have authored compelling articles which included undeniable stats of languishing evangelism numbers.
The calls for increased efforts in evangelism often elicit resounding “amens” from pews to tribal leaders alike. Yet even with all the hearty ‘amens’, the numbers suggest that we’ve failed to make progress. Could it be that this moment of global crisis comes with a Sovereign reawakening from our complacent self-fascination to a renewed commitment our King’s commission?
There seems to be three means of gospel engagement that never change. Disciples of Jesus are always positioned with these three tools in their missionary arsenal: what we say, what we do, and how we respond. Let’s think about each in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and how we might effectively lean into each for missionary engagement.
What We Say
The gospel is multifaceted. This is the brilliance of God’s plan. God’s redemptive work is impossible to contain in one image or concept, so the biblical writers use many different pictures to convey the glory of what God has done for us in Christ.
- Reconciliation– Right now, many are lonely, isolated and alienated from one another. The Gospel reminds us that we, who were once cut off from God, have been brought into right relationship with the Father through Jesus. We are gis, seen most vividly in the fact that we are indwelt by gis Spirit. Sequestered, isolated and lonely lives need to know they can have intimacy with God.
- Justification– People are fearful and death looms large. The good news tells us that those who’ve been made right with God have nothing to fear, in this life or the next. Our sin has been forgiven and we will be with God forever. Fearful people need to hear that there is eternal hope.
- Salvation—People are looking for a silver bullet, whether medicinal cures, economic fixes, or political intervention. The good news reminds us of what we all instinctively know to be true – that no temporal fix is going to address depth of the brokenness of our lives or of the world. Our only source of salvation is found in Jesus. Anxious people need to hear that there is hope.
What We Do
Disciples of Jesus demonstrate the veracity of their words through physical acts that model the character of Christ. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that God’s people do just that. Preaching from the comfortable confines of our sanctuaries feels a bit empty and hollow when disconnected from selfless actions.
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Source: Christianity Today