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Challenges for the Church in Obeying Jesus’ Mandate

Challenges for the Church in Obeying Jesus’ Mandate

I have the regular opportunity to observe and interact with many different American churches of all shapes and sizes. In the last 10-20 years, change has been a common thread in the evolution of the church, mirroring the changes in our society and culture that, at times, advance at a dizzying rate. With change comes challenges of what it looks like to obey Jesus’ unchanging global mandate — challenges to our vision, our engagement of the global church, and our way of sending workers. Here’s a preview of this series.

The Challenge of Vision | New churches and a growing number of established churches see the need for more of a missional vision: to be the “hands and feet of Jesus” to local unchurched and needy areas. Indeed, this a welcome refocusing of vision. But to what extent is there a disciple-making vision toward the world’s least-reached — the global aspect of being missional? Another question of vision involves theology: In our desire to rightly extend mercy and compassion, how central to our efforts is the spiritual need of people for salvation in Christ alone? A third issue involves vocation: Is the entire body of Christ being challenged to leverage all its professions to carry out Christ’s disciple-making mandate?

The Challenge of the Global Church | While there are still thousands of unreached people groups in the world, representing approximately 2.5 billion people, there is also a burgeoning non-Western global church far outnumbering North American believers. And the non-Western missions force outnumbers Western workers by more than 3 to 1, or 170,000 vs. 50,000. It is no longer “from the West to the rest” but “from everywhere to everywhere.” This raises many questions. How well do our cross-cultural workers know the church in their host countries? Are we willing to learn and follow rather than lead? How aware are we of the cultural differences between the way we do things and the way the host country does them? What does it look like to receive from them rather than give? What does it look like to give without creating dependence?

The Challenge of Sending | Churches that do have a vision for sending face a number of challenges. One relates to the age-old issue of financing workers. Cross-cultural workers used to be supported by multiple churches. That is usually no longer the case when churches desire closer relationships with the people they support. From the church’s perspective, how should they determine where to invest their people, resources and energy?

Read the series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
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