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Friday, 2 March 2012

Church Planting needs a Missionary Spirit

Church Plant Pep Talk
Last week I spoke to a group of Christians who are wanting to church plant in a very needy area of our city. I put six questions to them, which could be summarised as: Do you want to be a missionary?

The attitude of all-too-many western Christians is "What's in it for me and my family?" This attitude pervades everything from employment, to housing location to church choice.

The consumer mentality
So many Christians  are really modern consumers masquerading as disciples of Jesus. Their choices are determined by the question: "what's in it for me?"

Take church choice as an example. Western Christians write down a mental check list. The church must have this facility and that ministry; it must tick this box and that box. If it does then I'll go there....

.......well, I'll go there until one of my boxes gets unticked. And then I'll leave and find another church.

"Sainsbury's used to sell my kind of root beer, but since it no longer stocks it I'm off to Tescos": that's how many Christians treat the local church.

Islands of selfishness
This attitude is simply fleshly selfishness, which we  know all too well can assault any one of us. In sharp contrast to this me-ism, is the attitude of a true disciple of Christ, perhaps only seen fully in the life-time missionary. 

Missionary Adoniran Judson visited by his wife in prison
Sacrifice is the name of the Missionary game
Missionaries sign off their lives and desires before they embark on their life's calling. They do not start with the question: "what's in this for me?" They start off knowing "there will be nothing in this for me or my children." They expect suffering, inconvenience and sacrifice.

The Great Reward
And yet in a typically cross-like twist of expectations, they end up with far more than they ever dreamed, far more than they ever lost, far more than they ever imagined. Jesus, "for the joy set before him" endured the cross. When we lose our life for Christ's sake, that's the only time we really gain it. When we give up everything, that's the only time we get it back. So missionaries are no fools! They know that to lose, in the Kingdom of God, is to gain - not only in the world to come, but in this world too.

One missionary who lost everything including his life, put it like this:

"He is no fool who looses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" Jim Eliot

And more importantly are the words of Jesus from Matthew 19:
"Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

Wanna church plant? Only if you wanna die in order to really live.

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