Category Archive: Missions & Evangelism
In an essay cobbled together from the introduction and conclusion of his book The Mission of God, Christopher Wright shows how “mission” is one way of viewing what the whole of Scripture is about. When we see how important and how central God’s mission is, he writes, it turns a lot of things in our lives upside down (or maybe better: right-side-up):
An understanding of the mission of God as the very heartbeat of all reality, all creation, and all history generates a distinctive worldview that is radically and transformingly God-centred. It turns inside out and upside down some of the common ways in which we are accustomed to think about the Christian life. It is certainly a very healthy corrective to the egocentric obsession of much Western culture — including, sadly, even Western Christian culture. It constantly forces us to open our eyes to the big picture, rather than shelter in the cosy narcissism of our own small worlds.
* We ask, ‘Where does God fit into the story of my life?’ when the real question is where does my little life fit into this great story of God’s mission.
* We want to be driven by a purpose that has been tailored just right for our own individual lives, when we should be seeing the purpose of all life, including our own, wrapped up in the great mission of God for the whole of creation.
* We talk about ‘applying the Bible to our lives’. What would it mean to apply our lives to the Bible instead, assuming the Bible to be the reality — the real story — to which we are called to conform ourselves?
* We wrestle with ‘making the gospel relevant to the world’. But in this story, God is about the business of transforming the world to fit the shape of the gospel.
* We argue about what can legitimately be included in the mission that God expects from the church, when we should ask what kind of church God wants for the whole range of his mission.
* I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should be asking what kind of me God wants for his mission.
Pagans say that matter has always existed, whether they are primitive pagans (“the cosmic egg”) or Greek pagans (“the co-eternity of matter and form”) or modern scientific pagans (“the Big Bang”). They refuse to accept that God could and did create matter out of nothing. This would point to a God Who presently sustains His creation personally, which in turn points to the existence of a God Who judges His creation continually. Pagans seek above all else to escape God’s judgment — Ray Sutton, That You May Prosper, 25.
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a young man on the street in Grants Pass. He indicated that he was an atheist. People believe in God because they don’t believe in themselves; belief in God is wish fulfillment, a crutch to help people who are too weak, who lack self-confidence. In the course of the conversation, he kept saying that he had examined the evidence and that there was no evidence for God’s existence.
But then he made a telling admission. In response to something I asked (I forget what), he said that he hoped God didn’t exist. Why not? Because if God did exist, then he would have to submit to him. “I don’t want to submit,” he said.
He’s not alone. When we encounter atheists, we ought to recognize that their problem is not simply intellectual, as if they just haven’t heard the right arguments (our arguments, perhaps) for the existence of God. Rather, their problem is moral. They don’t want to submit.
I think I learned this from Doug Wilson: the young man who goes to college and abandons the faith probably doesn’t do so because he heard arguments in a philosophy class. He does so because he wants to sleep with his girlfriend. Any arguments he hears against God’s existence — whether philosophical or ethical or scientific, as in Sutton’s example above, or whatever — suddenly take on new cogency because they help him soothe his fears. No God means no need to submit. No God means no Judge.
When you come along and argue for the existence of God, he doesn’t hear you neutrally. He doesn’t hear you as a “rational man” who is interested in following your argument, wherever it leads. He hears you arguing for the existence of the very God who forbids him his sin and who will judge him for it, and he’s not interested in hearing anything that suggests that conclusion. If he’s honest, he’ll tell you so, as the young man in Grants Pass told me: “I don’t want to submit.”
Any recommendations for books, articles, or websites on evangelism and church planting? Stuff on church planting in an urban context would also be appreciated.
Monday was Thanksgiving here in Canada. At the church I pastor, the tradition is to have a Thanksgiving service in the morning. As well, the church hosts a communal meal. That may seem odd, given that Thanksgiving is normally a family day, but I guess that’s just what they’ve always done here.
This time, however, we had something a bit different. Instead of having the Thanksgiving meal right after the service, which is what usually happens, we had it in the late afternoon, after which we had a presentation by Rev. Blake Purcell. Blake is the dean of the Reformed Seminary of St. Petersburg in Russia, and he spoke about the work of the seminary and about the Reformed church in Russia.
His presentation was very enjoyable, and it was good to be able to spend some time visiting with Blake over supper. I would encourage you to think about supporting some students at this seminary and thereby furthering the work of the gospel in Russia.