04 Oct Five Practices of a World Christian
Most Christians, when they discover God’s heart for the nations as revealed through the Scriptures, experience a radical shift in the way they view the world. When you grapple with the immense needs of nations who have no Bible, no churches, and no missionaries, it becomes hard to turn a blind eye. Yet sadly, many do. John Lennon, the famous British rock star once said, “Living is easy if you do it with your eyes closed.” But Jesus says, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35 ESV)
What does the life of a World Christian look like? How does a World Christian act on their convictions of aligning their lives toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission? It is one thing to give an intellectual answer for a particular point of view, but it is quite another to put those ideas into action in everyday life.
Over time, it has been recognized, that World Christians regularly engage in certain recurring behaviors. These behaviors are natural expressions that grow out of the World Christian mindset. These practices are reflexive acts of service that grow out of a passion for Christ and a desire to see His glory fill the earth.
Many World Christians may have a dominant practice, but all of them are evident in their lives to some degree or another. Think through the practices listed below and identify your most strategic practice. Which one of these fits you best? This should be your strategic edge. Think and pray about how to develop your most strategic practice. But realize you might discover it is very natural to be involved in all of the practices at various times and in various ways.
Practice #1 – Going (Goer)
One of the most natural responses to learning about God’s heart for the nations and discovering the current state of the world is going to engage in same-culture, near culture, or cross-cultural ministry. The ‘goer’ is a short or long-term missionary, pastor, or cross cultural worker. He or she has a burden to see people reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and sees him or herself as ambassadors of Christ. The words of Jesus in John 20:21 are especially personal to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Goers are eager to be on the front lines of spiritual conflict and to see up close and personal the miracle of salvation as individuals and communities encounter the love of God through Christ.
We see Jesus mission for the disciples in Acts 1:8 as a description, or possible prescription, of ministry for the goer. First, ‘Go’ locally – to neighbors, friends, co-workers in your relational network. But, also consider ‘Going’ to near cultures where you have influence (city to rural, or Texas to Oklahoma). Often God develops future cross-cultural “Goers” who have been faithful and effective at same and near-culture missions. Cross-cultural ‘goers’ go to people groups outside of their own host culture. They cross linguistic and cultural boundaries to serve practically and share the message of Jesus in those places. The command to the church is to be active in all of these places. It is important to note that God’s formation of the cross-cultural missionary, or church planter, is often shaped in preparation through same and near culture ministry activity.
Practice #2 – Sending (Sender)
Goers cannot go unless there are people who can send them. Therefore, ‘senders’ occupy a tremendously strategic position in the body of Christ. These are people who view their most strategic contribution as that of developing and deploying critical resources needed for the mission. These talented individuals understand how to use resources effectively and efficiently. Those resources are not limited to financial, but may also involve deploying technologies, logistics, and administrative tools that ultimately help carry the mission forward. Senders understand that they are intimately involved in the mission and they contribute significantly toward its success.
Practice #3 – Welcoming (Welcomer)
The nations that God loves are not just far off, but have come to our doorstep. They are international students, migrant workers, refugees, and travelers. ‘Welcomers’ are those who embrace the nations in their communities with hospitality and service. Their hope is to build relational bridges in order to share the love of Christ with them. The admonition of Leviticus 19:34 is ever on their minds and hearts, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.”
Welcomers understand that many have come from difficult places where discussing matters of faith cannot be done safely. Now, in their new environment, they have an opportunity to ask questions and explore faith. They are looking for friendship and understanding about how to make life work in their new host culture. Those who embrace them also understand that many may one day return to their lands, and we pray, when they do, they will take the message of Jesus with them.
Practice #4 – Praying (Prayer)
Jesus gives us very clear direction on how we should respond to the great imbalance we see in the world between the number of lost and the scarce resources at our disposal to reach them. In Matthew 9:37-38 we read, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Those who pray are accessing the most powerful resource available for the releasing of resources for the mission. God calls us to depend upon Him to raise people, finances, technologies, and tools useful for the mission. But calling upon heaven’s resources cannot be overlooked. Prayer warriors understand the meaning of the phrase, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)
Practice #5 – Mobilizing (Mobilizer)
Leaders who are passionate to see those around them engage in strategic roles in the Great Commission are called ‘mobilizers.’ These men and women are filled with excitement and passion to see Christ glorified among the nations. They are eager to go themselves, but offer to stay back and mobilize others. They understand that by focusing their talents and abilities on mobilization, they have the potential to send many into the mission field. John R. Mott, one of the leaders of the Student Volunteer Movement in early America sums up the valuable contribution of the mobilizer: “The one who does the work is only surpassed in value by the one who multiplies the doers.”
Mobilizers rally the body of Christ toward strategic action. They set into motion the Goers, Senders, Welcomers, and Prayer Warriors. The role of mobilizer is increasingly being understood as a strategic role in the local church. Whatever the calling or vocation in life, the mobilizer multiplies their influence toward the mission of spreading God’s glory among the nations. A mobilizer may multiply prayer, sending capacity, or resources. The ultimate goal is to release people and resources toward the mission.
In conclusion, these practices are meant to give World Christians strategic handles (something to hold onto) to direct them into a course of action. Some practices are better suited toward individuals based on their season of life, personality, or spiritual gifting. But even though one stands out as a dominant practice, all of them are characteristic of the man or woman associated with the World Christian way of thinking. Each should be examined carefully and the reflected in the life of the World Christian. So what about you? What is your most strategic practice?