By: Tony Hermankevich
When we talk about the mission of the Church (capital “C”), we might hear the Westminster Catechism being quoted: “The Chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Or from John 4:23-24: "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
It seems, therefore, our purpose is to worship God and to bring glory to his Name. I believe this to be true, but we must learn how to attain our chief end. We must be taught. We are to be disciples, and we are to make disciples that also make disciples. As we learn, we participate in Christ’s Great Commission. As we go out to seek and to save those who are lost, we are compelled by the love of Christ. We are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. Out of gratitude for what has been done for us already, we share this love with others by laying down our lives - hoping that more people will come to saving faith in Jesus, and more people will gain eternal life, while also realizing their unlimited potential for a transformed life even now. And thus, we fulfill the Great Commandment to love God and to love our neighbor. Quite simply, this is what we all should be doing.
However, when we talk about making disciples, the conversation often moves into the need for a process that's over and above mature believers cultivating relationships with new and non-believers. When we talk about mission, many expect that church leaders are pressuring them to travel to the ends of the earth as foreign missionaries and to possibly die a martyr’s death. Foreign mission might be the call for some, but it is not the call for everyone. Unfortunately, a majority of people in church today believe that even a short-term mission at home or abroad must certainly be the call of someone else and “not me.” Moreover, if we talk about money in church: the money necessary to keep the lights on, money to pay the pastor, money to fund trips for missions of mercy and justice, many people become uncomfortable and even angry, assuming that the pastor is “preaching about money again” to benefit himself under the guise of stewardship. We pay our taxes and expect the government to provide for the less fortunate. This is the job of the Church. This is true religion: “to care for widows and orphans” (James 1:27).
The mission has been outsourced, and church is a place for me to get what I need.
In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus tells his disciples: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” My contention is that the problem isn’t that we don’t have enough people in the church or enough warm bodies for the work. There are mega churches with 30,000 members. The real issue is that those who are ready and willing to go out into the harvest are few. It’s our job as leaders in the Church to help people to discover their gifts, and to help them prepare to put those gifts to work building the Kingdom.
My challenge to all of us, including myself, is to pray and listen - asking God to reveal our specific gifts and the work in which those gifts can be used. Get involved with people who seem to be on mission already. Before we can ache for a specific group of people, we might have to meet them first, which means going as a matter of obedience rather than emotion. We might later fall in love with those people and places as we go. It is often as we do the work that our gifts, our hearts, and God’s heart for ministry and mission are revealed.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Amen.