October 21, 2018

It’s Monday and I am crossing my fingers that the great monsoon of 2018 is finally over. If anyone says “well we always need more rain,” I might need to seriously pray for your sanity. On Friday as I watched a river running down beside my house, it was so deep and fast I was tempted to give it a name. And yet here we are and I actually was able to ride my bike today. I didn’t see a rainbow as God’s promise not to flood the world again but I am trusting Him today!! I hope your week has started with an amazing time with God already this morning. If not, it’s not too late!!
This Sunday we are finishing up our Missions Month and the focus will shift a little to an emphasis on God’s calling beyond what we can see around us. As many of you know, I was a Youth Pastor for many years, and I thoroughly loved it. When I was in Florida the tradition before I came was to do an annual Choir Tour/Youth Mission Trip. We would go to a location, in conjunction with a local church, and have revival services each night. We brought along someone who would preach each night and our youth choir would sing. And each day we would go out into neighborhoods and do Backyard Bible Clubs. So when I moved on to my next church in Longview, Texas I knew I wanted to continue to do Mission Trips. Our Youth Choir wasn’t as strong as the one in Florida so we decided to just go and do Backyard Bible Clubs and whatever else was needed. That first year we took 20 youth and 3 adults and we went to inner city Houston. We had an amazing trip working with kids there who had very little and sharing the gospel message with them. I could go on for days about that trip but I’ll save that for another day. But after that first trip it really became something the youth looked forward to even more than camp. And so each year it grew until we were taking over 60 youth each year and we really had to start limiting how many we could take. Each year we saw many children come to know Christ and that was amazing. But of equal importance to me was the change I saw in our youth. They came home with a totally different outlook not only on missions but on their own walk with the Lord. If you were to ask many of them today they would tell you that those mission trips were a key part in their own spiritual growth and development.
Now, fast forward to my changing role as a Senior Pastor. I always wanted that same experience for our adults but getting adults to take a week off and go on a Mission Trip is a lot harder than it is for youth because usually adults have to take a week of vacation and they won’t sleep on the floor of a church somewhere and eat spaghetti and lasagna every meal. As I have said before I fell into this idea of, well I guess being an adult means giving up all that and just sending my money and praying. Then I read David Platt’s book “Radical” (you should read it too) and it changed my perspective. I realized “I” needed to go. Even if I couldn’t convince my adults to go, I needed to take that step of faith and obedience. Partly to have an impact there but more importantly to have an impact in my own life. And that is what has happened for me and others who have gone. I know this is going to make my blog unusually long today but I want to add this article on short term missions. It says it better than I could. I hope you read it. I hope you see the eternal value in it. I hope it changes your mind on not just praying and giving but also going.
Spending time and money on mission trips can seem silly when we can just as easily share the gospel right where we are. And it’s true that, regardless of location, followers of Christ should strive to live as his ambassadors, leading lives of continual testimony. Nevertheless, this doesn’t discount the unique value of short-term trips, for they serve as a powerful means of fueling evangelistic passion and empowering believers to live on mission.
Short-term mission trips have unique value to both the long-term missionaries they support and the churches that take them. When executed with excellence in cooperation with long-term missions strategies, they can provide significant support and impetus to missionary work. In addition, they serve as a powerful means of fueling evangelistic passion and empowering believers to live on mission. J.D. Greear, SBC President and pastor of The Summit Church, recognizes the importance of investing in short-term missions, both for church members and for pastors.
Short-term trips are critical for developing church leaders’ vision for global missions. These trips often inform ministerial strategy and instigate a renewed burden for the lost, equipping pastors to inspire their congregations to get involved as well. Indeed, as Greear points out, “You can’t be passionate about what you haven’t seen.”
When church leaders experience short-term missions for themselves, they are then able to train their congregations to go as well. Preparing people for these short-term trips—training in spiritual disciplines like Scripture memorization, prayer, and regular devotional habits—is simply discipleship, a core responsibility of the church. In practicing these disciplines and subsequently going on short-term trips, church members become more equipped and more passionate about daily ministry. The reward of these trips—greater burden for the lost, deeper passion for the gospel, and active participation in the Great Commission—are assets to the missionary task, both globally and locally. (italic emphasis is mine)
I mentioned Sunday ways you can get involved locally. Let me list just two ways you can GO internationally:
Athens 2018. May 31-June 11. Right now we have 7-8 people committed to going. We have room for only 2-4 more. You will work with refugees every day and you will see God moving . . . I promise. And I believe God will work in your heart as well.
Nigeria. 3 Options: January 31-February 10. February 7-17. February 14-23. If building stuff is more your area of giftedness then this is the trip for you. You would be going to work with Walt and Karen Troop in building a school for orphans in Africa. I don’t know that God will provide the time or money for me to personally go but if God leads you I will help coordinate and possibly even go with you.
If you are interested in either of these opportunities please contact me. I can give you cost and more details. Let me just add this here. This year we will NOT be doing ANY church-wide fundraising. But if you want to give to support an individual who is going you are always welcome and encouraged to do so.
LAST THING: Don’t forget this Sunday we are having a joint Sunday School to discuss and answer questions about our proposed partnership with Pastor Ernesto’s Hispanic congregation. We will have a light breakfast starting at 9:30am so come early and join us for answers to any question you might have!
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?