I admit the topic of this blogpost might not quickly grab your attention – but I challenge you to keep reading. The world needs us to have this discussion. In fact, our basic Christian obedience is at stake if we ignore this topic.
To help you and your church do the Great Commission, here are some ways to begin to think globally. Expand your vision, and perhaps your burden for the nations will increase.
- Listen to (or read) the news with Great Commission ears and eyes. Most of us hear the news as events, but we should hear newsworthy happenings as calls to prayer. People who have never heard of Christ die every day due to war and famine. Governments are in turmoil. Natural disasters destroy homes and lives. If we pray as we hear the needs, God will grab our heart for the nations. Indeed, it is possible in some cases we might be the only person who has ever prayed for some people around the globe.
- Talk to your kids about their classmates. Most public classrooms in North America include students from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. Use this opportunity to introduce your children to different cultures, languages, and beliefs. Invite your children’s friends to your home. Teach your kids to appreciate and respect others even as we believers seek to lead others to the gospel truth.
- Put a map on a wall in your home. Frankly, North Americans are geographically ignorant. And, it’s easy to ignore the spiritual needs of the world when people are only anonymous folks living in a nation we cannot name. You might find yourself more interested in the nations – and praying more for them – when a map is always before you and your family. Start by praying for a different country or people group when your family says grace each night.
- Meet a missionary. It might take some work to connect with a missionary on stateside assignment, but it’s worth the effort. Your pastor or a church staff member can likely help you. I wish I could introduce you to folks like S, who served in southeast Asia during a time of war; C, who is using sports evangelism to reach Muslims; and S, who is backpacking through the jungles of South America to reach distant tribes. Every one of these missionaries would love to tell you his story.
- Visit ethnic restaurants in your community. Instead of choosing restaurants based on your tastes, visit restaurants just to learn about other cultures and food. Ask to meet the owners, and introduce them to your kids. Talk to servers who’ve been raised in other countries. Even if you don’t like the food, you’ll probably like the people – and thus pray more for them, their family, and their country of origin. Pray specifically for opportunities to invite your new friends to church.
- Invite international students to your home. If there is a university near your home, I suspect you’ll find international students there. Many of those students will never be invited to visit an American home, and some will spend holidays alone on their campus. Opening your home will not only invite fellowship and learning, but it will also open the door to sharing your faith.
- Learn another language (or at least encourage your children to do so). In a world that is increasingly global, Americans are notoriously monolingual. Broaden your horizons by learning a second language, even if the learning is slow. It’s difficult to learn another language without also learning something about the people who speak that language.
- Read missionary biographies. Depending on the missionary and the setting, these life stories can have much to offer. Travel. Adventure. Animals. Strange foods. Sickness. New vocabulary. Danger. Miracles. Answered prayers. Changed lives. Sacrifice. You might even discover some new heroes among these missionaries.
Give us your ideas now. How have you learned to be a global Great Commission Christian?
Social media in many instances can be helpful. M’s in areas not needing security can update via Facebook and Twitter with ease. In additional many, many missionaries maintain blogs of their ministry efforts.
Paying attention to Unreached People Groups via websites like Joshua Project (http://www.joshuaproject.net/) help us maintain a global mindset regarding the gospel. Jesus.net is a project of the Billy Graham Association and gives prayer alerts for people worldwide who have just accepted Christ.
Many consider the orphan care movement as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission. There are numerous books and websites to help explain levels of involvement.
Thanks, Marty, for the great thoughts.
I do not know of anything that causes believers to become Great Commission focused than going on an overseas mission trip to:
1) See the great hunger that exists for the gospel in MOST of the world
2) See the far grater commitment level of our overseas brothers and sisters in action who do so much to advance God’s kingdom with so little when it comes to the worldly resources we seem to rely on.
Agreed, Allen. If I were king for a day, I’d require all pastors and seminary students to take an international mission trip.
When I pastored my church before I went into consulting work, we did several things to encourage our church to think “Great Commission .”
1) We had a mission moment every week during our morning worship service where some aspect of Christ’s mission was shared.
2) Being aware of the needs of our community helped us think outside the box. During the fall of 2011, a devastating flood hit our region. While it was hard, it was a wonderful opportunity for our church to get out and share Christ’s love to our community. We had a team of people clean out 23 homes and we had an opportunity to work and pray for people.
3) it is my opinion that the pastor is key to all of this. As a pastor, when we had our main world missions offering, my wife and I would challenge the congregation dollar for dollar what they gave up to a certain amount. While missions is more than just money, it is one tangible way to show that as a pastor, we took missions seriously and we encouraged the church to do likewise.
4) We tried to present mission opportunities in fun and creative ways. Using video, puppets, skits etc. we constantly demonstrated the importance of the Great Commission. Missions does not to be a boring presentation of a far away place but should be communicated in dynamic and exciting ways.
Thanks, Steve. I agree that the pastor is key.
I have taken two overseas missions trips (Peru, Ghana), but have found that the greatest interest on my part came from having two kids teach overseas (Japan, China). Since they have been living in these countries, we have found ourselves gravitating towards Asians here in the States. The burden increases with familiarity.
Good perspective, Ray.
For me and my family, just stepping out out front door and into the lives of those around us in our neighborhood.
Overseas trips are great, but are sometimes not what we are called to do. Right now, God has called my family to stay where we are and reach out to our neighbors (90% Hispanic and over 50% non English speaking). HE is bring the world to us!
Good point, Roy. The world is indeed coming to us.
We have begun using Operation World at morning devotions. We talk a little about the country and find it on an inflatable toy globe. We have also looked up pictures of people in these countries to see what they look like. My kids are 2 and 4 and 7 months, so we keep it brief. But it has been amazing! My kids are making connections all the time.
Here is another idea: http://blog.abolishhumanabortion.com/2013/03/the-great-commission-without-abolition.html
Perspectives, Perspectives, Perspectives. There is nothing better than attending a Perspectives (in World Missions) course in your town. http://www.perspectives.org to find one near you. It is powerful and life changing.
Perspectives is a good route to take. Thanks!
All great resources. Joshua Project has a prayer app for the unreached people of the day that you can use on your phone.
Read “Global Prayer Digest” http://www.globalprayerdigest.org
Mission Frontiers too: http://www.missionfrontiers.org
Second Perspectives: http://www.perspectives.org
But hey, I’m a little biased. 🙂