Can I humbly offer four strategies for mobilizing a church for mission? I offer these in light of scripture and from the shared experience of various missional pastors. (In my last blog I offered two vital questions that occupy the life of missional pastors. There I addressed the prior question: what is the shape of the mission of the church?)
Having discussed the shape of the mission of the church, now here are four strategies that are key in my opinion to mobilizing a local church to mission.
1. Preach for it
2. Pray for it
3. Model it
4. Worship for it
It seems to me that when all four of these things characterize a ministry, the Spirit often moves to mobilize God’s people. I now offer a brief comment on the first two—leaving the third and fourth for next time.
- Preach for it
In my opinion the mission of Christ ought to feature in every sermon, in one way or another. I don’t mean by this that we preach on Acts Chapter 2 or the like every week. Rather, the mission of God is the direction of the whole biblical story. The biblical story from Genesis Chapter 12 onwards narrates, in light of sin’s curse, God’s recovering his good purposes for his creation and also calling a people to live as signs to his restorative reign. As the mission of God is the direction of the whole biblical story, it is rightly expressed in every sermon.
- Pray for it
Earnest prayer for revival precedes vigorous mission. Jonathan Edwards called the church to earnest, persistent prayer for revival—Isaiah 62:6-7 was a favourite text of Edwards: give him no rest!
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.
Reformed Baptist pastor, Eroll Hulse, named his book on revival ‘Give Him No Rest’. Hulse wrote, regarding the watchmen in Isaiah’s text: ‘They know that it is the absolute determination of the Lord whom they serve to promote the glory of his son.’
May I share a story from our own ministry? (Please share your own stories below-it would be great to hear them.) In one wonderful church in which we pastored, every Thursday morning at 6am the church was invited to our house for prayer. We never got the whole church-on these mornings five to ten people gathered. Over jam muffins and bad coffee we would pray first that the Spirit would come and purify our own worshipping community. Then we would pray for revival in our local community. After we had been praying like this for some months, one lady came up to me and said, ‘I just want to do something!’ God acts in response to our persistent prayer; and persistent prayer also creates Godly anticipation among God’s people.