Unreached Peoples and the Church

When we in the church think of evangelism and missions, the first thing that generally comes to mind is The Great Commission. Matthew 28:16-20 describes a resurrected Jesus, given all authority over all of creation, instructing His disciples to stand up and go make disciples where there are not disciples.

In Matthew 24:14, when Jesus is speaking on the end times, He tells His disciples, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth, as a testimony to every Gentile, and then the end will come.”

In Acts 1:6-8, Luke tells the same story as Matthew 28, giving more detail. Jesus’s disciples ask the Risen Savior, “Are you going to restore the kingdom now?” Although the disciples were referring to the political kingdom of Israel (Isaiah 32:15-20; Ezekiel 39:28-29; Joel 2:28-3:1), Jesus does not correct their question. Instead, He gives them a new focus. The Holy Spirit will descend on them, so that they can move from emulating Jesus to continuing His work in the power of the Spirit.

In summing up Psalm 67 John Piper makes a great statement about God’s plan of salvation, saying, “The will of God in choosing Israel and creating the church is to be known, praised, enjoyed, and feared among all the nations.”

God has chosen to create a people for Himself that He will use to draw all peoples to Himself.

To put it a different way, “God’s people have been blessed so that they might be a blessing to everyone else.” This was the message given to Israel in Genesis 12:2-3, and it is the message for Jesus’s church, which Paul explains in Galatians 3:16.

But when I begin to think about the Great Commission, it honestly starts to stress me out. How could we possibly accomplish this task? Make disciples of all nations? Continue reading

On Leadership

This past month, Todd Engstrom asked, “What are the necessary skills, character traits, and cultural understandings a leader should possess?” I spent some time searching through books, articles, and blog posts on leadership, and found a few common themes strung throughout the business, sociological world, and the world of church leadership.

I want to focus this blog from a Christian leader’s perspective, but to say that Christian leaders possess characteristics that are completely separate from leaders outside of the church would create a false dichotomy, so understand the purpose is not to say these skills, traits, and understandings are somehow “better” or “higher” than others. In fact, for the most part, they are incredibly similar, if not the same.

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Dying to Preach, Reflections

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“It was not Paul’s ambition for the Corinthians to know how much he knew. That was beside the point. His ambition was for them to know Christ alone.”

  – Steven W. Smith, Dying to Preach

The first book I ever read on preaching is considered, by many in seminaries across the country, to be a seminal work on the subject. It started with a chapter bemoaning the place of today’s preacher. “In the past,” it had said, “the preacher was seen as a learned man, and treated as such.” (I’m paraphrasing, but this is actually pretty close to exactly what was written.) The premise of that first chapter was that in the past the preacher was respected, trusted, believed. Today, however, that preacher is seen more as a senile grandpa – a person with a big heart and neither foot in reality. After that first chapter, the book was very helpful in how to craft sermon outlines and manuscripts and so on, but that first chapter always confused me.

Dying to Preach, by Steven W. Smith is an entirely different book. And while Smith doesn’t deal with the actual process of crafting a sermon, he speaks in direct, passionate language about the purpose and means of preaching.

“For the Word of God to live in people, the preacher must die to his right to be thought of as a great preacher. He must embrace the reality that what people need the most will not always be what they want to hear.”

– Smith

For a preacher to effectively preach the Word, he must commit to preach Christ alone. This means he must die. The preacher must die to himself – his name, his axe to grind, his popularity; to the text – he must be faithful to preach only what is in the text, being careful not to use the text to push an agenda or message by placing anything onto the text; and finally to his people – he must put their need to hear Christ at the forefront.

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