When you think about doing ministry, what do you think about? What comes to mind when you hear the words being missional through ministry. The first two things that ought to come to your mind should have something to do with,
- A biblical understanding of missional ministry
- And the right starting point for doing missional ministry
A Biblical Understanding of Missional Ministry
Being missional or doing ministry is about transformation. The reason we want to go and take the gospel to all the world (Matthew 28:19-20) is that we want to carry on the mission of Jesus, which has always been to destroy the works of the devil through the reclamation of souls.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3:8
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:17
- Do you have a transformational world view?
- How have you structured your life to be transformational in your world?
All biblio-centric ministry will have this idea of transforming souls, either through salvation or sanctification, at the heart of it. This brings us to our second point, which is to have the right starting point for doing missional ministry.
The Starting Point for Missional Ministry
The correct place to begin missional ministry is within your own heart first. Ministry does not begin out there somewhere; it begins inside of you. If you are not being transformed by the message of Christ, then you are not the best candidate to be telling others how to be transformed by Christ.
Being missional works out in concentric circles. At the epicenter of the concentric circles is you and your relationship with the Lord. All ministry begins in the minster’s heart.
As you continue to develop and mature in personal application of your missiology, the next group of folks you will be exporting the mission of Jesus to are those closest to you. If you are married with children, then your family is your next mission field.
You will read over the exit of some churches, as you are walking out the door, “You are now entering the mission field” or something like that. This is wrong. The mission field does NOT begin outside the church but inside the church.
If transformative Jesus is not transforming us, then we will export various kinds of chaos into our world. You see this idea of starting with you in the opening remarks from Luke, in the Book of Acts.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:8
The Spirit must overcome us before we begin telling others about the transformative power of Jesus. Luke said after the Spirit comes upon you, then you begin working through your concentric circles from closest to farthest.
Paul gave us additional clarity when it came to our personal imitation of God within our spheres in 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 4:9. James said it another way in James 1:22.
- Are you first on your list of people you want to impact by the gospel?
- How are you doing at being a missionary to yourself?
- How are those within your immediate sphere of influence being affected by your missional efforts?
With a right understanding of what ministry is and where it begins you will be able to develop a comprehensive way of doing missional ministry in your world. Below are eight sequential steps for being the most effective kind of minister of the gospel you can be.
Living an Exported Life
Step #1 – Who I am?
You cannot disconnect who a person is from what he does. Both of these aspects of ourselves are connected, and together they give the most accurate picture of the whole person.
Who I am and what I do represent the totality of me.
Jesus told us about the continuity of self when He said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). He tied the heart to the tongue, knowing that it is out of who we are (our hearts) that our words and actions (behaviors) find their source.
This makes the character of a person the most important part of the person. This is hugely important when it comes to hiring or promoting someone in ministry or business. Character is more important than talent.
Too often a church ministry will promote talent without spending adequate time assessing character. This is a huge mistake if the character of the person is something other than humble and authentic Christlikeness.
An average musician with high Christlike character is better than an A-lister, who lacks biblical integrity. Any person who wants to have an effective ministry must first address the condition of their heart. That is step one.
This is also important in dating relationships. Some girls can be easily duped by what they want to see in a guy rather than taking the time to really get to know him. Then they marry the guy and spend umpteen years wallowing in regret and anger.
Words and actions from the man of your dreams can quickly turn into a nightmare after you marry him and setup house. Judging a book by its cover, without doing the hard work of really knowing what the contents are can bring a lifetime of disappointment to a person’s life.
The things Jesus did flowed out of who He was. This makes Him the perfect example for anyone to emulate. There was no sinful discontinuity between the kind of person He was (heart) and the actions He did (behaviors).
The infographic points to some of the components of the heart (found under the spiritual circle) that create the true nature of the person. These are the things that will determine the kind of person you are.
Step #2 – What I say?
The words I use are tied to the kind of person I am. (See Luke 6:43-45). This is crucial wisdom when it comes to building longterm relationships. You must spend a lot of time with a person, in many different contexts to truly know them.
This is how parents can blow up their most important ministry opportunities, which is with their children. If the parents are not exporting a humble and genuine representation of Christ to them, after a decade or more of time and contexts, the child learns the truth about their parents and rejects God.
Step #3 – What I do?
Coupled with the words of the parents are the actions of the parents. There is no masking the true heart of the parent. Fact: all missional ministry begins in the heart of the missionary (any person).
It is easier for some ministers of the gospel to focus most of their ministry efforts outside the home because it is easier to disguise yourself outside the home. This kind of ministry world view is not in line with the gospel (Galatians 2:14).
What Jesus was to the world was what He was in private. If we are not fighting to be consistent in private and practice, then we are not bringing proper glory to God and, at some point along the way, some of our closest relationships can be irreparably damaged.
There are zillions of children of Christian parents, who do not want anything to do with Christianity because of the type of Christianity that was exported to them by their parents.
The infographic below is another way of speaking to this issue. If our thoughts about the practice of missional ministry do not begin with the totality of ourselves, then what we export to others will lose its power in proportion to the corruptness of the vessel that is exporting it.
Step #4 – This is me
The previous three steps, whether good or bad, will determine the kind of minister of the gospel you are. It will also determine the effectiveness of the kind of ministry you will have on all those who come in contact with you.
Step #5 – I affect you
And nobody will be affected more by your ministry than those in your family. Our spouses and children will experience the incongruity between who we are, what we say, and what we do more than anyone else.
If the disparity continues with our children and they do reject Christ, then we will essentially blow up our first mission field.
Step #6 Exporting the Gospel
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. – 2 Timothy 2:1-2
Your life is being exported. Everybody’s life is being exported; we are not given a choice when it comes to the exported life. You are affecting your mission field, either for the good or for the bad.
Paul was bold about this matter of exporting the gospel to all those who came in contact with him. He wanted people to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). He asked them to take copious notes about his life and then imitate their complete experience with him.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:9.
Step #7 Be like me
Paul’s understanding of missional ministry was purposeful, powerful, and practical. He was Christ’s representative on earth and, therefore, he wanted to replicate himself into others.
To replicate himself in others was to replicate Christ in others. When we tell our spouses, children, family, and friends about Jesus, we should be able to point to ourselves as to what kind of person Jesus was on earth.
Through your character, words, and actions, any person should have clarity on what the Christlike life looks like. Any person should be able to look at you and say, “If that is Christianity, then I want to be part of it.”
The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” – John 7:46
When the men sent to capture Jesus (John 7:32) met Jesus, they were so affected by Jesus that they were unwilling to follow through with their ungodly strategies. What they experienced was missional progress.
Step #8 Making missional progress
What Jesus was and what Jesus did had a profound missional impact on His world. This is how missional progress is made in our culture. It is unfortunate that many ministers of the gospel, which is every Christian, disconnects their being from their doing.
The most common scenario for this is the dualistic life where what they are in their homes is different from the person they present themselves to be in the public domain. This kind of dualism probably does more harm to Christian missional efforts than anything else.
Where it impacts the most is the next generation (our children), who are not motivated and impassioned about the cause of Christ. The most effective witness to the truth claims of Scripture is the transformed life and if our immediate spheres of influence are not perceiving and motivated by our transformation, then we are bringing irreparable harm to missions.
Call to Action
- When you think about missions is your first thought more about out there or in your heart and life?
- How would those who know you best describe your imitation of Christ?
- What is one thing you need to change, as it pertains to this article, that would make you a more effective minister of the gospel?