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    Oct 12, 2014

    Class 13: How to get from “Here” to “There”

    Series: Missions

    Category: Core Seminars, Church Leadership, Eldership, Discipling / Mentoring, Prayer, Sanctification & Growth, Serving, Evangelism, International Missions


    I. Introduction

    This morning in our final class we’ll be thinking about the topic of getting from here, Washington, D.C., to there, the mission field. How can we know that God might be leading us to move from this country and relocate abroad to share the Gospel. What steps should we take if we find ourselves leaning in that direction? These are some of the questions we’ll be considering this morning.

    Before we do so, let’s quickly review:

    In the first few weeks of this class, we talked about the foundation of missions; we concluded that this foundation was to glorify God. We saw from scripture that God has a passion to see His name glorified by showing mercy to sinners. And we understood this to be a really an amazing truth: that God has made his glory and our good to be consistent with each other. God is glorified in the redemption of rebels.

    We also talked about the urgency of taking the Gospel out the nations and about various ways to do this such as short-term missions, doing missions in a closed country and cross-cultural ministry from here in D.C.

    Well, finally this week we want to think particularly about this idea of getting from here to the mission field.

    II. Am I Called

    One of the greatest difficulties for Christians who are thinking about making any full-time Christian ministry their vocation, either as a pastor or missionary, is this issue of a calling. How do we know if we are “called” by God to serve in a special way supported by His church? And what does it even mean to say that we are “called?” Well, we could make this the sole topic of this class and still not fully treat this issue.

    But with that said, let me make a few points that might be helpful on this topic of calling:

    1. First of all, we know that all Christians are “called” to aid in the spread of Christ’s kingdom. [ask class how we know that].

    We understand that from verses such as Mathew 28:18, the great commission. This general Biblical call to assist in the advance of Christ’s kingdom requires no specific calling. Rather, merely by being Christians we are commanded to share the good news of the Gospel.

    And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.

    See also Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8; pattern of the history of the early church in Acts; Romans 10:14 (how will they hear if there are no preachers).

    And we can also see this 3rd John as discussed several weeks ago. That whether we are the “goers” or the “senders,” as Christians, we are called to participate in missions.

    Let me be clear on this question because it is an important one. Biblical calls that involve imperative commands to ALL believers like “go and make disciples” require NO sense of calling, just the sense to read and obey Gods Word. No faithful believer would ever say “I don’t feel CALLED live a holy life, so it must be okay for me to sin.” The call to personal holiness sounds throughout Scripture, whether you feel called to that aspect of the Christian life is irrelevant. We are called to holiness by the written, unchanging word of God. The call to share in the spread of the Gospel is similarly universal in its general application to all believers.

    So in one sense, if your question is merely am I called to help in Global evangelism, we can just cut to the case and say yes, you are! Go read your Bible if you have questions about that. Next question?

    But by this point that’s probably NOT your question. Your question might be, am I personally called by God to leave this place and intentionally move to a different culture to take the Gospel to a place where Christ is not well known? Well, that’s a much different question and much less simple, much less cut and dried. Over the centuries, Biblical thinkers have generally identified two senses of calling described in Scripture and that may help us in working our way through this issue. Basically they have reduced this question to an internal and an external calling. We will spend a few moments considering each.

    2. Internal Call

    a. First, we need to have an internal call – simply a sense of desire or willingness to undertake the work; a conviction that God has placed on your heart a particular course of action.

    • This is not mere wander-lust. So, there should be
    a desire to see God glorified in all the earth.

    • Biblical Basis of internal call:

    You might be asking whether there is a biblical basis for this idea of an internal call. Yes, the scripture does have descriptions of such a call to ministry in general.

    For example, Paul, in his missionary work often spoke of the desire, passion or ambition that compelled him. In Romans 15 (v. 20) he uses this language saying: “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ is not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”

    In I Corinthians 9 (v.16), Paul says, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

    Whatever this may mean for Paul specifically, it seems clear that a strong sense of internal desire was a significant component in his calling. Now for Paul, there is certainly also the component that came from him being knocked off his horse by Christ and commanded to preach the Gospel. But we’re not expecting such things in discerning our own calling. Nevertheless, despite Paul’s unique call, even he still references this inner desire to see God glorified through the proclamation of the Gospel to others as a part of what propelled him.

    And we also see this in 1:Tim. 3:1, where this sense of desire is commended for anyone that might desire to be an elder in a local church: “he who sets his heart on becoming an overseer desires a noble task” or 1 Pet. 5:2, talks about serving as elders “not because you must, but because you are willing.” See also Gal. 2; Acts 9 for Paul’s call.

    For missions, this internal calling may be reinforced by a sense of fruitfulness or gifting in a particular area such as an ability to build relationships or communicate the gospel in a cross-cultural setting. Although this sense of gifting is ultimately evaluated and confirmed by the church, as we are now going to discuss, it certainly may be part of this internal call.

    God equips for what he intends his children to do (Eph. 4:11); 1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28.

    3. Along with the internal call, there also needs to be an external call – this is the confirmation of the rightness of your desire by those in spiritual authority over you. For us here, this would mean the elders of Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

    So, for example, the congregation at Antioch confirmed externally Paul and Barnabas' internal sense of call from the Holy Spirit to take the gospel to the gentiles. In Acts 13:2-3, we read:

    While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “set apart for me Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

    (of course, uniquely, the Holy Spirit seems to have communicated his calling directly in ways that we don't look for today.).

    Timothy also seems to have received an external call, as evidenced by the elders that laid hands on him when setting him apart for the ministry. See 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6. And Paul assumes that others will be set aside for ministry as well. See 1 Tim 5:22.

    So others must agree that you are gifted and suited for such work.

    i. What does this require on our part? Well, at least two things:

    1. Taking the initiative – let folks in leadership know what you are thinking. This will allow them to carefully think about the fruit that they see in your lives, and to create opportunities to help you test your gifts to help you discern your call.

    2. Showing Humility – by accepting the wisdom of others around you even if it may conflict with your own immediate desires.

    III. Addressing a sense of call

    Let’s talk practically now about what you might do if you sense a call. Maybe you feel that God is clearly calling you to the mission field. Or maybe you’re not sure – you may fell some sort of pull to work for the Gospel abroad but you're unclear as to God’s will in this matter. What should you do? What actions should you take? That’s what we want to consider now.

    First, let’s begin with a basic, but important point, and that is that the church does the sending. (example of Paul and Barnabas -- church at Antioch, Romans 10 – they are sent). Individual missionaries do not send themselves.

    The local church often sends missionaries through missions organizations. And in order to do that, the church must know you and must have had an opportunity to assess your fruitfulness, wisdom, consistency and abilities. So what can you do to facilitate this process:

    1. Perhaps most importantly, talk to the elders. Their guidance will be useful to you as you are deciding whether to go overseas as a missionary. They want to be a part of helping members think about these issues.

    And, talk to one of the elders early. The process for being a missionary, even short-term, is rather long. The sooner you begin exploring your desire to be a missionary, the sooner you will be on the field. You are not wasting the elders’ time if you come to them BEFORE you are sure…that’s what they WANT you to do. They want the church to play a huge part of helping you get SURE about what you should or shouldn’t do.

    2. Be prepared for a time of training and opportunities and encouragement here at CHBC. Consider, for example, the internship program. Also, the elders are working on one-on-one training programs for women in the church thinking of working overseas. In most cases, it will be about a year from the time someone approaches the elders before they are ready to recommend them for overseas service.

    3. Consider going on a short-term trip as a way to learn more about certain areas of the world and about your ability to function in those new cultures. And again, talk to the elders and other mature believers at CHBC early. Let them help you think through the wisdom and strategy of your short term ideas.

    4. Pray and talk with others about your ideas regularly. Again, don’t wait until you have made up your mind before talking with others. That will rob you of the value of their council at the time when you need it most.

    These are some practical ideas that we can consider. [ask if there are any questions?].

    What if you are not called to go?

    Before we move on to talk about some of the missions opportunities we have, I want to stress one other point. And that is a reminder that even if you’re not called by God to leave this place and share the good news in another culture, God had called all of us to be partakers of this missionary task wherever we may be. So how can we be more obedient to this general calling right here in Washington D.C.?

    * Well, one way is to reach out to those around us -- non-Christians and particularly non-Americans and to show them mercy in a way that commends the Gospel.

    We see something of this in both the Old and New Testament.

    In the OT, we see the idea of showing mercy to the alien or “sojourner” in the land. For example in Exodus 22:21 we read:

    Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

    In the NT we are encouraged to show hospitality to strangers:

    Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Heb. 13:2; see also 1 Timothy 5:10.

    ** Thus, the general principal of showing compassion to foreigners is commended.

    So, if you want to get more deeply involved in missions, but are not expecting to move to another culture, then, as we talked about a few weeks ago, look for ways to engage with people from other cultures living here in Washington, DC. [Ask class if they remember some ways to do this.]

    1. Consider, for example, helping a recent immigrant to learn English. Talk to Karen Townsend who works in this kind of ministry. Just transferring your normal knowledge of English is a valuable work of mercy you can perform to a non-English speaker.

    2. Look into ways to help a recent immigrant get settled in DC. Volunteer to do so with a local University or talk to Pamela Allen to get connected with a graduate student from another nation who’s new in DC.

    3. Talk to Jason and Anna Townsend about ways to help some of the many recent immigrants from El Salvador that they know in the DC area.

    These are just some examples of ways we can engage the world by engaging those from other cultures who have come from all over the world to live in DC.

    Other great things to do would be to:

    4. Discipline yourself to read about the world and pray for the work around the world. Operation World book.

    5. Pray for the supported workers in the back of our directory.

    6. Be a student of what others at CHBC are doing in missions. Keep aware of short-term trips and activities of those who have gone out long term.

    C. Mission Opportunities [handout].

    Finally, we should explore the different opportunities for missions work that are available. There are several types of mission opportunities with the IMB which is the missions organization that we partner with:

    1. Short-term missions. First, short-term mission programs. Our church frequently offers short-term missionopportunities ranging from one week to four months. But what would be
    better is to consider one of our churches’ short-term trips.

    {Mention current missions opportunities that are coming up soon}

    If you are interested let Andy Johnson or one of the elders know.

    2. Medium-term missions. These are programs like Journeyman or International Service Corps.
    The Journeyman Program, for example, is a two-year program for singles in their 20s. 

    The International Service Corps is similar to the journeymen program but is open to people of all ages and is also open to singles, couples and families. This is also a two-year program in which the participants serve alongside career missionaries in a variety of assignments.

    Finally, the Masters program is a two or three-year program for those 50 years of age or older.

    3. Long-term/Career Missionaries. Finally, there are opportunities to serve as career or long-term missionaries. These are the backbone of the missionary endeavor. There is a long application process. Most of the people in this room are probably two years away from being on the field as a career missionary if they began to explore the process today.

    D. Why we work with the International Mission Bd.

    1. Their Theological Soundness

    a. They have a growing and encouraging focus on unreached people groups.
    b. They have an encouraging focus on church planting. This is the idea that once a church is established abroad, that church then is responsible for furthering the gospel in that city or area, and the workers can move on to another unreached area.
    c. We have a special relationship with the leadership of Central Asia region.

    2. Financial Responsibility.

    A further advantage is that the IMB will fund the missionaries we send. Other groups like Frontiers, Navigators, etc. require the missionary to raise his own support. A large percentage of the money given to IMB goes overseas. Through the Cooperative Program, the IMB is able to fully fund the missionaries. This takes away the burden on the missionary to seek support from various churches – he or she can concentrate on the missionary work.

    Leveraging our church’s limited financial resources…

    We can’t afford to send everyone ourselves, so it makes sense to send as many as we can through the IMB.

    V. Conclusion

    A. Getting from here to there may bea long process. Be ready to think ahead, take council from others and look for ways to grow now, through discipling, leadership and service at CHBC.

    B. And finally remember, in the end it is not about you and what you do or don’t do, not finally. It is finally about God’s passion to spread a knowledge of his glory to all nations for the joy of all peoples. Keep you mind fixed on the final goal of missions as we thought about at the beginning of this course and of this class today…that is the glory and praise of God by redeemed sinners from among all peoples for his lavish mercy in Christ. What a privilege that God has given us to participate in this great, eternal work!

    C. Revelation 5:9-14