If you had a ladder made of splinters, would you stand on it?
Unfortunately, the mission practices of most churches stand on weak foundations. Life on Mission gives gospel-centered, biblical, practical foundations for how missions was meant to be: an everyone-together effort.
Life on Mission is a thorough yet simple guide for everyday missionaries—electricians, lawyers, church planters, students, etc.—that equips them with truths and practices for living out the gospel within their own community. Adaptable to any context, Life on Mission functions great as both an individual and small-group study.
Threaded with engaging stories and probing reflection questions, Life on Mission will help you and your community take bold steps to living life on mission.
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Dustin Willis lives in metro Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Renie, and their two children, Jack and Piper. Dustin serves as the coordinator of the Send Network. Before moving to Atlanta, Dustin planted and pastored Midtown Fellowship in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. Find him at @dustinwillis on Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
Life on Mission
Joining the Everyday Mission of God
By Dustin Willis, Aaron Coe, Ginger Kolbaba
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2014 The North American Mission Board
All rights reserved.
In the beginning God ... The first words of Scripture supply for us the ultimate foundation for missions. The heartbeat of God is that He would be worshiped among all people. The writer of the Psalms conveys this sentiment when he said of God, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" From the beginning of time in the garden, God's desire was to have a relationship with creation and for creation to see God for who He is: their Creator. As a result of the fall and sin's entrance into the world, however, humankind was inclined toward self-worship and not God-centered exaltation. Because humans' self-inclination does not square with God's righteous jealousy for His name, God is on a mission for God. According to one popular writer, "Missions exists because worship does not." God desires that all people worship Him and give Him the glory that is due His name.
Therefore, the mission of God requires that believers leverage their lives for His glory. The Great Commission is not for a select few; it is for the entirety of the church. The movement of God's mission sweeps across everyday, ordinary lives to draw in businesspeople, soccer moms, grandmothers, neighbors, students, lawyers, teachers, baristas, contractors, white collar, blue collar, or no collar at all. Regular people like you and me united by the one who lifts the curse of the fall. Filled with His spirit, laying down our lives, denying ourselves for the mission of God and the good of others. This is the invitation.
Welcome to the movement of life on mission. Through His church, this is God's plan to change the world.
Many people believe that mission and ministry are carried out by a select few professional clergy or an elite number of mission agencies and nonprofit organizations. But here's the reality: God s mission was given to every member of His church. We are called to be everyday missionaries. Everyday missionaries are those who practice life on mission where God has placed them, whether that be at an office complex, a developing country, or a college campus. It is incumbent on every believer to have an "all hands on deck" mentality in order for the mission to reach its fullest potential. Ephesians 4 tells us that God has given leaders to the church in order to build up His people until they "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13 NIV). Notice it does not say that our leaders were placed over us to do all the work. When we choose to join God on His mission through His church, we dare to be the everyday missionaries we are called to be.
Your life has a mission. If you are a follower of Jesus, then He has a purpose and plan for you. But not only does God have a plan for you, Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able "to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" (NASB). He wants to do more in and through you than you can imagine. Think about that: The God of the universe has a plan far beyond what your mind can conceive. What exactly does that look like? What does that mean? How will it all play out in the coming weeks and in the next five years?
MORE THAN "ME"
The purpose of God's mission isn't really about us. We live in a culture that is all about "me." Social media has allowed us to usher in the "selfie" generation—a generation, if we aren't careful, that defines itself by self-promotion. As we begin to understand what our lives on mission are about, it is vital to understand our goals. The ultimate goal is not that we would do good things for others. It's not even to start churches or share our faith. Yes, those are good aspects of the mission, but they are not the ultimate aim. The ultimate aim of our lives is to bring glory to God.
If we look again at Ephesians 3:20, where we learn that God wants to do abundantly more through our lives than we can imagine, we must continue reading through verse 21, which explains the central purpose of any effort we give to God's mission. It says, "To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever" (ESV). One early church document tells us, "Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever." The goal is glory!
The purpose of your parenting is to glorify God. The purpose of your job is to give God glory. And the purpose of your life's mission: you guessed it, to glorify God. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 it says, "Whether You eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God's glory." You don't have to waste years wondering what your purpose is.
Maybe you think, Okay, I get it. Living for Gods glory is the aim, and joining God in His mission to reach my community and beyond is a means toward that great intention, but I have no idea how I'm going to add mission to the already-consistent chaos called my life.
I (Dustin) recently participated in a conference in Austin, Texas, where I heard teacher after teacher expound on how we cannot just look at mission as something to add to our schedules but something to intersect with our current daily rhythms. Life on mission is about intersecting gospel intentionality into our everyday routines.
Adding something to the calendar can seem like an overwhelming task. God may call you to add elements, and if so, be obedient and add away. However, this book's objective is not to get you involved in some new mission program or create another church event, but rather to walk alongside you in creating a gospel intentionality within your already-present everyday rhythms.
WHAT DRIVES THE MISSION?
Living life on mission should be driven not out of guilty obligation, but rather out of embracing the identity and purpose given to us in Christ. Often, though, we are confused about our ministry motive, as well as about how to actually act on the knowledge we have. When it comes to understanding God's Word and living out God s mission, many of us tend to fall into one of three camps.
1. The "I'm not a professional" camp
Sarah represents many of us in that she rarely—if ever—takes action. She thinks she can't be a part of God's mission to redeem the world because she's not a professional minister. She equates ministry with paid professionals. She doesn't realize that every Christian is called to make disciples—that a Christian is necessarily a missionary in everyday life—and that her life on mission matters more than she could ever dream.
2. The "I'm too busy pondering" camp
Chris is passionate about learning as much about God as he can. He feels that knowledge about God will be his secret to his future ministry success. He loves going to seminars, reading books, and studying theology. He loves to talk about spiritual things with other believers, but his involvement in actual ministry is minimal. He goes to church, of course, but to say he is on mission with God would be a lie. He has no intentional relationships and hasn't had a conversation with a nonbeliever in months. Though he goes "deep" in theology, he has forgotten to apply any of it to his life.
3. The "Why are we doing this?" camp
Stan, however, is the opposite of Chris. Stan is eager and task oriented. He has gotten the idea from his church that he is supposed to be active in ministry, and he has become the epitome of active. He helps with every ministry his church does, and he dutifully has conversations about Jesus with whoever will listen. But the conversations are often awkward and forced because, in reality, Stan doesn't really know what to say—he just knows he's supposed to talk. None of his words come from a legitimate overflow of meditating on the gospel and applying it to his life. They are parroted lines that he's memorized over years of familiarity with all things "church."
Chris understood the biblical foundations for ministry, but they didn't make it to his life. Stan understood the process of being a missionary, but without the biblical foundations. Too often we see people either digging deep into doctrine but never applying it, or we see those who eagerly engage in missionary activity while never digging deep into why mission work even matters. A weak gospel foundation leads to very fragile mission practices.
You don't have to fall into any of these camps because there is an altogether different option. Understanding that your life on mission matters, along with both the biblical foundations and the missionary process, is necessary to becoming an empowered everyday missionary—and the goal for this book is to train you in all three areas. Sarah will learn that she doesn't have to be a "professional" for her life on mission to matter; Stan will develop biblical foundations; and Chris will learn the practical missionary process that results from a solid biblical foundation.
A SIMPLE PROCESS
Though the need is great, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can join God in His mission and see real change take place across North America. ^JOfiile mission can work itself out in many different ways, we want to offer a simple, clear process laid out in Scripture that effectively multiplies disciples and sends out everyday missionaries.
We recognize that mission and discipleship have been overly programmed and made excessively complicated, and we have no desire to do either of those. In the Scriptures, we do not see a syllabus for a program, but rather a gospel-rich missionary process.
We believe that this simple, reproducible approach, which is rooted in Jesus' example and the early church's ministry, will prove extremely effective as you follow Jesus in making disciples. The content is adaptable to any context and can function well as an individual study, but we strongly encourage walking through it with a small group of people. It is essential to interact with the content, which is threaded with powerful questions, to help you take your next steps.
We want to answer the why, what, how, who, and what next questions as you spend time working through Life on Mission.
WHY does mission work even matter?
WHAT is foundational to my growth and development?
HOW do I apply the mission God has given me?
To WHOM is God calling me?
WHAT do the NEXT steps look like for me?
Our mission is driven by the truth of the gospel and defined by the mission of God. God's mission is to take what is broken and redeem it—not simply to make it better but to make it new. And the exciting part is that God Himself invites us to follow Him into a broken world as we live LIFE ON MISSION!CHAPTER 2
THE CURRENT REALITY
Imagine a movement of God across North America that changes the culture and attitudes of people. Imagine friends and family, once hopeless, understanding for the first time they have been given an eternal purpose that is bigger than them. Communities that are desperate being filled with courage that comes only by way of the gospel. Cities of great brokenness experiencing the newness that comes through Jesus alone.
Can you picture it?
Our role as everyday missionaries is to introduce people to Jesus, actively be part of their journey to become like Christ, and teach them to repeat the process with others. This is the desired reality, but before we move forward we must honestly examine the current reality of the mission field known as North America.
The gospel of Jesus has indeed taken root on this continent. We have historically been a land that sends missionaries to the nations who haven't heard the gospel. However, today the North American church is in decline. In his book The Great Evangelical Recession, John Dickerson shows that:
Of Americas 316 million people, evangelicals account for about 22 to 28 million, that means a staggering 93 percent or so are non-evangelicals.
Americas evangelical population loses 2.6 million people per decade.
Denominations—from mainline to evangelical—are struggling. Consider these estimates:
Southern Baptists report 16 million members, but only 6.1 million attend a worship service on any given Sunday.
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) averages one church for every 176,000 people.
The Evangelical Free Church has one congregation for every 209,333 people.
In Canada, there's one Christian Missionary Alliance church for every 81,206 people.
And the list goes on.
While some evangelical denominations are on the rise, catching up with the population growth and cultural changes is another matter entirely. Here are some more statistics to consider.
While some individual churches are growing, the evangelical numbers as a whole are shrinking, while the population is growing faster now than during the Baby Boom.
Researchers suggest that in thirty years, if the trends continue, the numbers of US evangelicals will have dropped to about 16 million, while the population will have jumped to more than 400 million.
According to Outreach Canada and professor and researcher Reginald Bibby, the realities in Canada are not much better:
Since 1980, almost three Canadian churches have closed their doors every week.
While evangelicalism is rising above other denominations, only three in ten Canadians see religion as significant to their lives.
The percentage of Canadian teens claiming no religion has climbed to more than 30 percent since 1980. But, Bibby says, a majority are still keeping the door open toward spiritual things.
In 2010, I (Dustin) joined some college students from the church I pastored in South Carolina and we spent a week in downtown Boston as a mission trip. One morning as I sat in a coffee shop in Boston's financial district, I pulled out my Bible to do some work on a research paper for a seminary class I was taking. A man at an adjacent table suddenly took an interest in what I was doing and the Bible that was sitting next to my computer.
"Is that a Bible?" the man asked.
"Yes," I answered. That seemed to open the door, and we began a bit of small talk about our backgrounds, family, sports, and jobs. That led to my explaining why I was in Boston.
"Wow," he said. "I've lived in Boston my entire life and I've never met a Christian out in public other than the eighteen people in my church. I've certainly never seen anyone reading a Bible at a coffee shop."
The reality is, New England is now one of the most under-evangelized regions in the United States. In fact, less than 3.3 percent of this great city's population is involved in an evangelical church. It's not just Boston. Entire cities that were once vibrant, gospel-transformed places are now spiritually boarded-up wastelands that are far from Jesus.
Travel five hours northeast up Highway 89 and you will find yourself in Montreal, a city that is only 0.7 percent evangelical. In his article, Overview of Montreal," Adam Miller, a writer for a major missions agency, describes Montreal as "a city with streets named after saints, with church buildings around almost every corner, but [where] things are not what they seem." Montreal native and church planter François Verschelden says of his city, "Even if it seems like Jesus' presence is here, it's not. There is a religious presence here. But His work is not known. His sacrifice is not known. Nobody can explain why Jesus died on the cross."
Church buildings that once held thousands of worshipers every Sunday now serve as museums that people visit simply to observe great architecture and read placards that speak of church history. More and more church buildings are becoming new plots of real estate, lofts, and trendy concert venues. The brick and mortar of these buildings do not hold true gospel value, but the mission of the people who once populated the hallways and pews does.
On a positive side note, however, during a recent trip to Montreal, I (Dustin) learned that there are glimmers of hope. According to Jeff Christopherson, a native of Canada and mission strategist, for the last thirty years most Montreal church plants struggled to gather more than twenty-five people. But in 2013 more than six new churches were planted and each one had more than one hundred people. In fact, one church has grown to more than seven hundred people and baptized seventy new believers all in one year.
North America may have once been the center of evangelical Christianity, but that seems to be shifting to Asia, Africa, and Central America. In fact, many countries now send missionaries to North America. We praise God for the transformation taking place all over the planet, and we pray for more of it, but we must experience a resurgence of the Great Commission here. If the North American church grows in its gospel understanding and mission focus, the potential for what could take place all over the world grows only stronger and stronger as we send out gospel-centered missionaries, not only to our cities but also to the ends of the earth.
Excerpted from Life on Mission by Dustin Willis, Aaron Coe, Ginger Kolbaba. Copyright © 2014 The North American Mission Board. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Why?
1. The Mission of God and the Reality
2. Kingdom Realignment
Part 2: What?
3. The Gospel
4. Spiritual Maturity
5. Biblical Community
6. Intentional Discipleship
Part 3: How?
7. The Mission
12. Putting It All Together
What People are Saying About This
Willis and Coe give an inspiring and hopeful look into the world of everyday mission. They clearly lay out before us the challenge to reach North America and offer the gospel-centered, biblical approach to how God is going to build His church through the efforts of ordinary people.
Matt Carter, pastor of preaching, Austin Stone Community Church and coauthor of The Real Win
Being on mission needs to be rerouted. It has been focused on methods and models more than shaped by the gospel, God’s mission, and the person of Jesus. Read Life on Mission and find yourself being more driven to focus your life and mission on these.
Eric M. Mason, pastor of Epiphany Fellowship and author of Manhood Restored and Beat God to the Punch
God calls and equips His people to serve in very specific contexts related to how He uniquely gifts them. Work is worship, and I realized that early in my NFL kicking career. Done in a God-honoring fashion, work screams to a dark, hurting world there is a Creator God who intends for His children to live a full, abundant life. This book challenges me to stay living “on mission” and to know that I am His handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do very specific great works He has prepared in advance for me to do. We are all “missionaries” and Aaron helps me remember God will accomplish immeasurably more in and through me than I could ever ask or imagine when I live “life on mission.”
Todd Peterson, NFL placekicker 1993–2006
Chairman, Pro Athletes Outreach
We must be intentional, passionate, and strategic in mobilizing the church on mission. I am convinced that Life on Mission can help us accomplish this, resulting in accelerating our commitment to reaching our region, North America, and the world.
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas
A compelling book that connects mission to worship and shows how one cannot really believe the gospel and not be moved into mission. This book does more than describe mission; it compels action.
J. D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary
The Great Commission is not for a select, elite few. It is for the whole body of Christ. Life on Mission makes that argument and then shows us in practical, concrete ways how to join God in His mission to make His Name famous among all peoples near and far. We all have a choice, an opportunity, to be on mission no matter who we are, where we live, or what we do. So read this book with much profit. Read it and then get to work as God’s missionary in the mission field He has placed you.
Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
We are all called as leaders to be on mission as agents of the gospel, not just those in full-time ministry. Life on Mission defines what this looks like, how you can get there, and the good news that we all need—our lives are meant to be on mission for God! Take your next step to being on mission wherever God has placed you. Read this book!
Brad Lomenick, Author, The Catalyst Leader and former president and key visionary, Catalyst
Aaron Coe is one of the most dynamic leaders in contemporary evangelicalism. This book is a theologically rooted and practically applied primer on how to join Jesus in his mission. I can think of no one with more personal credibility to challenge us in this way. This book can change your perspective, and maybe even your life.
Russell D. Moore, president, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Dustin Willis hits a simple message that profoundly changed my life.Focus on God’s agenda while you live life and you will begin to see that people all around you are lost and in need of a Savior. This book shows us the need to pray for people in our workplace, the grocery line, soccer fields, and even in our own family. Willis and Coe provide a simple framework to love these people in a natural and friendly way that brings glory to God. This book is must-read for those that want to have purpose in their work and play.
Steve Von Fange, vice president information systems, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of SC
The evangelical church in North America was not built on professional mission workers and physical church buildings. It was the Holy Spirit’s use of everyday Christians living on mission, knowing their context, and seeing opportunities to start ministries and churches that fueled the spread of the gospel. This book goes a long way in helping equip God’s people for the work of everyday mission and ministry.
Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project, author of Gospel-Centered Teaching, Counterfeit Gospels, and Holy Subversion.