By Bob Stock
Our son and his family live in a city three hours away. Following a visit, when they begin their journey home, I routinely tell him two things: drive safely and I love you. I want him to focus on those two ideas during their journey home. I think that’s the idea Jesus had when He left the earth. The last words He spoke were, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV). I believe He wants us to focus on that mandate during our journey home.
The American church has lost its focus; it’s distracted from this mandate. Many churches have become ritualistic, boring, and irrelevant, speaking comforting words to themselves, enjoying the company of those like themselves, loathing the stench of the world, and thanking God that they are not like those in the world.
Other churches have become concerned about diversity, social justice, and relevancy. They take up social causes, equating their efforts to the love and work of Jesus, purposely avoiding any mention of the judgment of the Lord. “I’m OK; you’re OK” is the norm in these churches.
Still other churches have become emotionally and sensory dependent. The words are comforting and alluring, the building is lavish, the temperature is controlled, the music is loud (earplugs are handed out in the sanctuary), the smoke is happening, the café rivals Starbucks, the jeans are tight on the women leading worship, and the youth are focused on being hip. Look at the current world’s culture and you see much of the culture exhibited in these churches.
Few churches mimic the church at Philadelphia portrayed in Revelation. The congregants abide in and worship Jesus, and the gospel is uncompromisingly and unashamedly preached. The people are built up to “go” out and transform their community and world. There is emphasis on praying, sending, giving, and going to reach the unreached peoples of the world who have little, if any, access to the gospel. Tithes and offerings are given primarily for reaching the lost as opposed to the comfort of the congregation. These churches follow the biblical directive: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
A template for such a “Philadelphia” church regarding missions to the unreached would be the following:
- A commitment to pray for missionaries and their ministries to the unreached by dedicated prayer groups and/or a portion of prayer time whenever prayer is offered.
- A commitment to send ten percent (a tithe) of the congregation to the unreached over the following years.
- A commitment to establish an on-going team to assist congregants in ascertaining their call to missions and to mentor them in that call.
- A commitment to send out twelve short-term missions trips per year, which foster missionary service, missions givers, and missions prayers.
- A commitment to invite twelve missionaries per year to share vision and outreach to the unreached with the congregation, including the children and youth, to enhance the focus on global missions.
- A commitment to give ten percent (a tithe) of all incoming funds to missionaries and ministries, the vast majority to those reaching the unreached. In addition, a multiple of that amount to fund missions projects reaching the unreached.
By and large, the American church has become distracted and as a result has lost its focus on the primary mandate the Lord gave us. We are to take the gospel to all people groups, and He reminds us that He is with us and will provide the Comforter to guide and direct us. To do that we must repent of the distractions and sin of money, lust, power, pride, lethargy, popularity, deception, comfort, etc., deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and abide in and follow Jesus to the ends of the earth until He comes back.