Biblical Missions at GBC (And An Announcement)! Part 1
Sometimes before you can make an important announcement, it is helpful to back up and give the background that led you to the decision made and the announcement you want to make. The elders hope this first blog post will serve to do just that. Our preaching series on missions would be a great complement to this post. You can find those four sermons that Smedly preached here.
Warning: This post is long. Really long. But you’ve come to expect that by now. So, read on and read carefully until the very end.
A couple of years ago the elders of GBC went on a retreat for the purpose of forming the church’s missions philosophy. That retreat was one of the most fruitful retreats we’ve taken as elders! On the basis of our study of Scripture, we came to this conviction concerning our role in the gospel mission of Jesus Christ: “We long to work tirelessly to see the GLORY of God in the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ manifested in the CHURCH around the WORLD.”
You can see the four key words in that conviction statement: Glory, Gospel, Church, and World. The centrality of each of these in missions has led us to form four interdependent guidelines that will help us determine how we will engage in missions as a church.
First, missions must be about the GLORY of God if it is to be biblical missions (missions must be “doxological”). God is working out all things for the praise of His own glory. God’s purpose in gospel missions, like everything else, terminates in His own glory. That means that everything we want to do in the cause of missions must take aim at the glory of God as its purpose. See Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:5-14; Isaiah 43:7, 25; Ezekiel 36:21-33. Missionaries and missions endeavors that thirst for God’s fame to be seen and savored are missionaries and missions endeavors which catch our eye.
Second, missions must be about the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ if it is to be biblical missions (missions must be “Christological”). The whole reason Jesus sent His disciples out into the world was so they could proclaim the good news that God is reconciling sinful man to Himself, forgiving and conquering the sin that separates Him from us, so that we can be with Him forever. This only takes place by the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ at the cross and is available to every single person who repents and believes in Him. Missions must zero in on the proclamation of this exclusive message. See John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10. Missionaries and missions endeavors that demonstrate steadfast loyalty to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ make us sit up and take notice.
Thirdly, missions must be about the CHURCH if it is to be biblical missions (missions must be “ecclesiological”). One of the effects of the gospel of Jesus Christ on believers is the assembling of believers into a community known as the Body of Christ (the Church). This assembly of redeemed sinners is to be organized locally and is the primary place where the redeemed are being transformed together by the gospel. Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18), and He has designed the gospel mission to go to the ends of the earth by the expansion and reproduction of local churches in concentric circles, from Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria, to the East Valley in Arizona, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. If followers of Jesus are to be obedient to all of His teachings (Matthew 28:20), they will inevitably be members of these local assemblies called churches. So many of the New Testament commands for believers depend on or require the existence and operation of local churches. We should never think of missions or attempt to “do missions” apart from a love for the local church and a desire to see biblical churches established, growing, and reproducing themselves. See 1 Timothy 3:14-15; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:11-22; 3:8-10. Missionaries and missions endeavors that love the local church make us very curious to explore a potential relationship with them.
Finally, missions must be GLOBAL if it is to be biblical missions. That is, we must think of the task of the mission of the gospel in a way that goes beyond the walls of GBC. We want to see our own church be established and mature in the gospel, but that is not the end. We want to see our church mature in the gospel so that it can reproduce itself in concentric circles from the East Valley into the entire Phoenix metro area and beyond—to the ends of the earth, or until our Savior returns for us. We want to reach our neighborhood with the gospel, and we want to see the gospel proclaimed in places where it is not yet heard. See Revelation 5:9; 7:9; Matthew 24:14. Missionaries and missions endeavors that are passionate to see believers from every tongue, tribe, nation, and people around the throne someday pique our interest.
Since the adoption of these four interdependent guidelines, we have primarily been laboring within our own church family in hopes that God will raise up from among us faithful servants who will carry the Gospel down the street to their campus, cul-de-sac, and cubicles for the glory of God. And we have been pouring much time and resources into others among us who are eager to go anywhere between here and the ends of the earth so that God can be glorified, the gospel of Jesus Christ believed, the church be established and strengthened so that believers from every tongue, tribe, nation and people will one day gather around God’s throne in worship!
Over the last few months the elders have been dialoging with a missionary from outside our church family that we are eager to invest in. His heart beats passionately for the same four guidelines. His name is Massimo Mollica. In September of 2010 he will be moving with his wife Susanna and two children, Alessandro and Eliana, to Italy to see the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ be manifested in the church to the ends of the world! The elders are very eager to introduce Massimo (pronounced just like the clothing brand) to you in the upcoming blogs so you can learn more about him, his family, and why Italy. We are eager to see this dimension (supporting a missionary outside our church family) complement our current “in-house” development of missionaries and church planters.
We hope you’ll pass the word about these blog posts around the body and throughout your smallgroup. You’ll have an opportunity to meet Massimo and his family personally when they are with us over Labor Day weekend. Massimo will be preaching in church on Sunday, September 5. We’ll provide you more details concerning their visit soon. Any of the elders would love to talk with you personally about our partnership with Massimo. Don’t hesitate to ask!