Summary: A sermon talking about Jesus' mission and then the church's mission (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, Rediscovering Community, chapter 8 Mission Focused)
Daniel Overdorf- I recently traveled with some friends to central Mexico for a week long mission trip. The missionaries we visited function like most I’ve met, using their time and resources on ministering to their community. The leaders of this mission, and the churches they lead, conduct summer camps for youth, provide a home for the elderly, lead medical teams into poverty stricken communities, and conduct VBS for children in area villages. They pour their efforts into ministering to people outside of the church walls. One afternoon, while we bounced in the back of a pickup truck on our way to a village, I wondered aloud to my companions, “What would it look like if our church back home functioned more like this mission?” While the Christians we met in Mexico funneled a majority of their time and resources into their communities, many American church focus time and resources internally- we conduct programs, hold classes, and plan activities for ourselves. Missionaries have a lot to teach us about mission focused ministry.
Imagine that a church spends 80% of its time and resources on programs and activities geared toward church members, and 20% on efforts to bring Jesus to the hurting and unsaved outside that church’s walls. This is typical of an American church. But what if that church dedicated itself to reversing these percentages, 80% outside the church and 20% inside the church?
I recognize this issue holds more complexity than this. Also, God wants His followers to minister to one another (what we have been talking about for over a month). Jesus and the early church, however, managed to do both. They developed intimate relationships with one another, and pursued the mission of the church by drawing others into the fold. I fear many churches today have mainly ministered to their own and lost sight of those outside their walls.
The way Jesus ministered should influence our ministries. There are things that do not apply to our ministries, after all we are not God, but there is much to learn and apply from Jesus.
Thesis: Let’s talk about Jesus’ mission and how applies to us
Two weeks ago we talked about how Jesus unleashed the kingdom of God into the world. Through Jesus, Christians can begin to experience this kingdom life immediately- the kingdom “already”. Such immediate experiences serve as a foretaste of the fully consummated kingdom life they will enjoy eternally- the kingdom “not yet.”
Jesus often summarized His kingdom mission: “The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”” Luke 4:17-19, NIV. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”” Luke 19:10, NIV. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10, NIV. “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” John 17:2, NIV.
Jesus’ earthly life and ministry proclaimed and prepared people for the kingdom of God. He loved, ministered, and showed great compassion to people He encountered, but always kept His eye on the larger, spiritual meanings of these appointments. Those who enter His kingdom enjoy eternal life; those who do not enter it face eternal punishment. Jesus’ compassionate call to repentance was at the heart of His message: ““The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”” Mark 1:15, NIV. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”” Luke 5:32, NIV. “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:3, NIV.
Because individuals’ future destinies depended on their present decision concerning the kingdom, Jesus called them to make such decisions. He called the rich young ruler to “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”” Luke 18:22, NIV. He invited the Samaritan women at the well to partake of the “living water” which becomes “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 14). He confronted the crowds following Him, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:34, 35, NIV.
When people refused His message, the eternal consequences of their refusal broke Jesus’ heart: ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”” Matthew 23:37-39, NIV.