Summary: Do we value the same things that Jesus places a value on? While people are eternally lost apart from Christ, these same people are of tremendous worth in God’s eyes. Amazingly, God chooses us to be involved in redemptive relationships in such a way tha
Owning the Mission
Rev. Brian Bill
Jim had a passion for God, a love for people, and a burden to communicate the gospel. But he wrestled with the question of how to bring the message of Christ into a setting that seemed so far from him. How could he help people see and embrace the truth when they had so little biblical understanding? The barriers seemed insurmountable. The task appeared virtually impossible.
Even with all of the obstacles in front of him, Jim knew he had to try. God had given him a vision to make a difference in the lives of these men and women.
For starters, he shaved his head right down to the skin, except for one patch of hair that he let grow long. Not only that, he began wearing it in a pigtail and then dyed it a different color so that he could fit in with those he was trying to reach. He also gave up his suit and tie and began to dress like the people he was trying to reach. He changed his eating patterns. He worked hard to learn new vocabulary and expressions, in the hopes that he would be able to effectively convey biblical truth in their everyday street language.
Jim didn’t do all this from a distance. He actually moved into the neighborhood with these people. He tried to become their friend. This wasn’t easy because of their non-Christian lifestyles and their outright rejection of his message.
Jim paid the price of loneliness, weariness, and discouragement, along with criticism from many Christians. He also lived with the daily rejection of most of those he wanted to reach. And he did this year after year. Jim owned the mission. His life is a powerful illustration of evangelism against the odds. And today, generations later, countless people from the neighborhoods he worked so hard to reach have come to saving faith.
Is it worth taking risks to reach lost people with the love of Jesus? Is it right to proclaim the gospel in ways that break a few paradigms, push back a few boundaries, and ruffle a few feathers? If you’re not sure, you might want to ask the hundreds of thousands of Chinese Christians who have been touched, directly or indirectly, by Jim – or, as he’s more widely known, James Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission over a century ago (this story adapted from Building a Contagious Church by Mark Mittelberg, Zondervan: 2000, pages 32-33).
Our drama this morning portrayed where most of us are at when it comes to evangelism. While we know it’s important, we often get sidetracked just like Courtney did. Instead of making an impact, most of us feel inept. I want to suggest that our first step is to “own the mission.” If we don’t we won’t see much evangelistic fruit.
Valuing What God Values
During this series that we’re kicking off today, I want us to take a look at what is supposed to be one of our top values: telling others about Jesus. Here at PBC we have identified 6 values that come right out of the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Let me list them for you by way of review:
• Instructing from God’s Word.
• Mobilizing for ministry.
• Praying with faith.
• Adoring God in worship.
• Caring for each other.
• Telling others the Gospel.
These value statements help us see where we’re headed as a church. They also serve as an evaluative tool to help us identify areas that we need to work on. I use these IMPACT phrases to discern what sermon series to put together so that we cover all six of these areas on a regular basis.
I used to think that we should give equal time and attention to each part of our vision statement but then I realized, through the help of another pastor, that the value of evangelism will always need more emphasis than the other ones because this is the hardest one to keep fresh and to live out authentically.
As believers, we want instruction, we want to be mobilized for ministry, we pray, we adore God, and we care for each other. Most of these have to do with our relationship with God or our relationships with other believers.
In his book The Purpose-Driven Church, Rick Warren reports on a survey that found 89% of church members believe the church’s purpose is to “take care of my needs and those of my family.” Only 11% said, “The purpose of the church is to win the world for Jesus Christ.” (Page 82).
According to George Barna, in his book called, “Evangelism That Works,” most churches have only a small group of people who have a passion for evangelism. Barna asks 3 probing questions to churches like ours: