Challenge Central: a CBC devotional
By: Pastor Lars Janssen
At Central, our annual Missions Conference is coming up this weekend, and the theme is “I will follow.” As we turn our collective focus toward missions, it would be valuable for each of us to consider the question, how do I think of Missions?To get our minds working, consider Merriam-Webster defines missions as “organized missionary work.” That seems simple enough, but what do we, as a church family, mean by missionary work? We could begin by considering our Church Covenant. The second paragraph of our covenant says that we will “contribute cheerfully and regularly to…the spread of the Gospel through all nations.” This contribution includes effort, resources, and time—regardless of whether we are staying home or being sent out. So, each church member has already made a personal commitment to contribute to missionary work. But what exactly are we contributing to? Next, let’s look at our Statement of Faith to help us see how Scripture defines missions. It states, “We believe the true mission of the church is found in the great commission: first, to make individual disciples; second, to build up the church; third, to teach and instruct, as He has commanded” (Article 13 “The Church”). This idea that we are disciple-makers is straight from the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 which says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I was reminded in Marvin J. Newell’s book, A Third of Us (which I received as a gift from Minne Bouma, one of our missionaries), that five main biblical passages contribute to our understanding of the Great Commission: Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21-23, and Acts 1:7-8. Newell points out in his book that the disciples didn’t receive all of this information from Jesus at once. He spoke to them over forty days following his resurrection, giving them time to process this mission. That’s the purpose of this devotional. The Missions Conference is coming, so it’s time to start thinking about it now. Finally, the most specifically stated understanding of missions here at Central comes from our Missions Committee’s policy: “‘Missions’ is defined as any endeavour in which the local church sends personnel and/or resources to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ by proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, making disciples and relating to the whole need of mankind: spiritual and physical. (Acts 1:8)” While our policy goes on to cite all five of the Great Commission passages I noted above, the one given in parenthesis directly after this definition is Acts 1:8, which says, “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.” Take a moment and read Acts 1:8 again. Does it sound like a question or a statement of fact? It is a statement of fact that the Apostles were direct witnesses of their experiences with Jesus. By the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, their witness became our New Testament. But we, too, are witnesses of our experiences with Jesus. Are you a believer? Has God met you through his Word and his Spirit? If he has, then you are a witness in your “Jerusalem.” It is not that we should be witnesses in Brantford; it is a statement of fact that we are witnesses. Believer, you are a witness to your neighbour, co-worker, friend, family, the people you meet in the soccer ministry, Vacation Bible School, through our Central Baptist Academy, in a Growth Group, on a Sunday morning, and even in another country if you are one of our sent missionaries. The true mission of our church is Missions—regardless of whether we go or stay. This weekend, we will take some time to dwell on this as a church family. On Saturday morning, March 25th, at 10 am, we’ll hear from our guest speaker David Roberts followed by a choice of three discussion groups at 11 am: 1) “Cost and Courage: Missions in Dangerous Places” with Casey Korstanje and Suleman Khokhar. 2) “The 5Ws of Growth Groups” with Barb Rogelstad and myself. 3) “Central Baptist Academy” with Pat Hart and Carolyn Staats. Then, during our Sunday morning service on March 26th at 10:30 am, we’ll hear from David Roberts again, followed by an evening session at 6 pm in the gym, including testimony, food, and fun. As a church family, let’s spend some time processing the question, How do I think of Missions? Let’s think deeply about the theme of our conference: “I will follow.” I’m praying that God will move us all deeper still so that each of us can begin to answer the question, how do I think of myself in Missions?