Our First Annual Mission Conference - A Great Success!

From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Dr. Clifford E. Jones (Opelika, Alabama)

This weekend has been a historical one here at Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church, as we hosted the First Annual Mission Conference. It has been an exciting time from Friday evening to the present. Someone might be thinking why is it so important to host such a Conference. It is important because we need to understand God’s view on mission. God is interested in all of mankind to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The only way that will be done is for people to hear and understand the Gospel. Listen to Jesus’ words as expressed in The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” The charge that Jesus gave His disciples is “TO GO!”

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Backyard BBQ Evangelism

BBQWe have to start letting go of some of our long-held ideas about church and ministry. Especially when it comes to evangelism and outreach. But it’s not always easy.

Here’s a true story that illustrates that reality. (I’ve kept some details vague, and adjusted others slightly to protect the identity of the pastor and church in question.)

Recently, I was talking with a small church pastor who was upset at his deacons.

"I have five deacons," he told me. "And they help out everywhere but at the church. One of them builds houses for Habitat for Humanity, the others volunteer at the senior center, the homeless shelter, the food bank, and as an assistant coach for the high school football team. That last one makes me especially angry."

"Why is that?” I asked.

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It's not about the money

How are we to reach those living in countries which restrict missionary access?  One approach is business as missions (BAM), or as it has been traditionally called tentmaking. Tentmaking may often be understood to refer to the economic factor: a missionary being financially self-supporting. However, tentmaking is not about money! It is about God and finding new ways of revealing God’s glory to the ends of the earth. 

Jesus says, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus is still seeking fishers of men; some are to leave their nets, and others are to bring their nets with them! Business as missions is a wonderful opportunity for those looking to use their skills and talents to reach the otherwise inaccessible unreached. It is using daily-life strategies to tell people about Jesus, giving the lost a good look, and often a first look, at who Jesus really is.

To find out more about or prepare to engage in business as missions see Patrick Lai’s most helpful and practical book: Tentmaking: Business as Missions

How's Your Church's Mission Swagger?

Have you ever shown up at an event and found everybody was really dressed up, except you? Or perhaps someone showed up at the door of your home unexpectedly and you were not properly dressed to answer the door. That's an awkward feeling!

If Jesus were to knock on our door today and invite us to the Annual Missions Banquet, would we be dressed and ready to go? Would our churches show up at the event grossly underdressed or well suited for the occasion?  What do you think of Dr. Johnson’s take on this question?

I see African American mission efforts in a light similar to that of the narcissistic emperor from Hans Christian Anderson’s tale who hired a tailor to make him some fine clothes. Everyone in his fiefdom was afraid to speak against this ruler. His tailor weaved him a fine suit of clothes made of nothing. The emperor was very impressed by his fine figure, and went on to parade his naked frame in public completely oblivious of his nakedness. … No one would dare tell him he was naked except one bold little boy. This brought much shame of the emperor, but it did awaken him to his brazen, egotistical ways. The black church in America, like the emperor, has no clothes when it comes to mission work overseas (Making the Blind Man Lame, Dr. Michael Johnson, p. 19).

 As an African American missionary, Dr. Johnson has great reason for this perspective. Over his many years of missionary service as a surgeon in Kenya, the folks on the mission field keep asking him, “Where are the African American brothers?” 

I have been to lots of African American churches of various denominations. And I know that we know how to dress up and look good for service. But, when it comes to Great Commission service, do we have our swagger going on, as the young people say these days, or are we underdressed?

A Good Half Day in the Hood

The Smokin' For Jesus event was a great time for over 100 volunteers to join in loving our friends at the Westside. The first picture below is of volunteers praying before the event--a shot which omits those at the serving lines. We had a lot of fun together, with excellent ministry, music and the message of Christ going out. Nine churches, including charismatic Baptists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Bible Church and Independent churches came together as one, together with a half-dozen parachurch ministries. The Bride of Christ looked great! Here is a page of event photos on the Westside Ministry Network Facebook page.

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