Next Generation Missions

Five People Wearing Clothes Behind Gray Wall

I remember when Megan and I were approved as second-generation World Baptist Fellowship missionaries 23 years ago.  At the time, we were “the next generation,” passionate to reach the world, but also challenging the status quo in many ways.  This was not in a spirit of rebellion, but in a zeal to do whatever was necessary to reach our generation with the Gospel, and the generations to come.  I remember being one of the first to move away from slides and slide projectors to a professionally edited video (on a VHS tape, of course!).  We carried around a massive, bulky projector into churches that were not equipped to display it or to handle the sound format.  Others at the time were challenging some of the expectations and requirements of wearing ties and dressing as formally as had been the custom and tradition.  Now, I look back at those “changes” and smile, because things have changed so much since then, and I am now the one watching the next generations come of age and enter vocational ministry, church planting and world missions.

Over the past years I have had a growing burden to challenge and equip the next generation of God’s servants, but that burden has only grown stronger now that it is my children who are stepping into vocational ministry and world missions.  It is thrilling to experience, but I admit that it is also challenging.  I have been forced to evaluate my assumptions, traditions, preferences and convictions to discern what truly is a Scriptural mandate or model, and what is personal judgment and discernment.  But I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

As I watch next generation missions unfolding in my own family and ministry, I have observed a few truths:

 

Without the next generation, the work cannot continue.  It has often been said that Christianity is always one generation away from extinction.  The same is true of every local church and of the cause of world missions.  If we fail to engage and mobilize the next generation, we fail in our mission.  The Great Commission is all about multiplication, reaching every generation, culture and community with the Gospel.  I believe God is still calling the next generation, but it is up to those of us in leadership to effectively engage them and equip them to reach their world.

 

Each generation challenges the status quo.  This is where things can get unpleasant.  We all have personal, cultural and historical perspectives, views and convictions.  When we are young, it drives us crazy when we ask questions and the answer we get is, “Because that’s the way it’s always been done.”  And yet, we often find ourselves giving the same answer to the next generation when they challenge our ways.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right?  Sadly, much of what we do in ministry today is broken and failing to accomplish our true mission in this generation.  But if we allow the questions and challenges to honestly drive us back to the timeless, unchanging, and cross-cultural truths of God’s Word, it will give us a solid foundation that can be passed on to the generations to come.

 

The next generation has much to teach us.  I am fascinated to see how the next generation has adapted to a world that is constantly changing.  Their world is changing much faster than ours did, and yet, for the most part, they are able to keep up and adjust to the latest trends and technology.  Even though the next generation is the largest generation in human history, and is far more unreached (in America) than any before, those in this generation who are committed to the Gospel are finding creative ways to use these changes as opportunities for evangelism, discipleship and world missions.  Yes, it often looks far different than how we have been trained to do ministry and missions, but I believe they have much to teach us.  When it comes to communicating with their generation and world, they “get it.”  My desire is to learn everything I can from the next generation (always filtered through the principles of God’s Word), so that I can be as effective as possible in the years that I have left to serve the Lord.

 

Next generation missions is exciting and challenging.  Not only do I look forward to what God is going to do through my own children, but I also look forward to seeing what God is doing to do through the next generation in the church that I pastor and in the churches of World Baptist Fellowship.

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Make Time To Be Still

woman standing in front of body of water during dawn

I want to encourage you to focus on a spiritual principle that is true all year long, but that is especially necessary during this holiday season.  The Christmas season is a joyful time for many, a heavy emotional time for others, and a very busy time for just about everybody.  Our normal life and work responsibilities continue, and yet we add more events, gatherings, shopping responsibilities and so much more to our schedules.  The opportunities for us to serve others are tremendous, and yet, if we are not careful, they can lead to such exhaustion, stress, and frustration that the spiritual meaning and purpose of this season no longer affects our heart.  The reason for the season may be on our lips and in our songs, but we are too overwhelmed to allow it to move our hearts.

That is why I want to give you (and myself) a reminder to make time to be still.  To be still physically, and to be still spiritually before the Lord.  It might be harder than ever to make time for this during the Christmas season, but it is more necessary than ever.

There were many times in which God’s people faced an enemy and God told them (as a nation or army) to be still, to stand still, and to see God fight for them and deliver the enemy into their hands.  But this principle of being still, in our heart, soul and body, is also a very personal one, that we tend to neglect, and it always has a detrimental effect in our life, our relationships, and our walk with the Lord.

Take a moment to read these passages that talk about being still, about quietness, and about internal rest.  Each gives us an important principle about being still.

 

Being still reminds us of who is in control

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

 

Being still is about connecting with God

Psalm 4:4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

 

Being still allows us to hear the voice of God

1 Kings 19:12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

 

Being still is what leads to spiritual strength

Isaiah 30:7 For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.

Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

 

Being still is a personal choice

Psalm 131:2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: My soul is even as a weaned child.

 

Being still is a priceless blessing

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

 

Being still leads to spiritual rest

Exodus 33:14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

Psalm 37:7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Matthew 11:28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 

At different moments in the ministry of Jesus, with the crowds around Him, and the constant movement, we read that Jesus “stood still” (Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:49) and interacted personally with specific individuals and their need.  Even Jesus made it a priority to be still, to be quiet and wait before the Father, often rising long before daylight.

This is also why the principle of the sabbath is so necessary for us as human beings, and for our spiritual walk with God.  We must be intentional about making time to be still, to rest and to be at rest.  Otherwise, we begin to pay for it in many different ways.  And if that is true all year long, how much more during one of the most busy and stressful times of the year.

So, let me encourage you to make time to be still.  How?  You may need to get up earlier than others in your house.  You may need to remove certain apps from your phone, turn off your notifications throughout the day, and keep your phone far away when you are spending time with the Lord.  You may need to block off a day, or even half a day, with no outside agenda, maybe to sleep a little longer, or even nap.  You may need to turn off the music or radio in the car and give your heart and mind the gift of silence, to listen to the Lord, as you commute.  You may need to go for a walk and seek to quiet your heart from the constant list of tasks and to-do’s.  Whatever you need to do, make time to be still, to slow down, to commune with the Lord.  Allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God to do a work of renewal, refreshment and rest in your soul this Christmas.

What are some practical ways in which you have learned how to be still before the Lord?  Share them in the comment section below.

WBF President’s Post: We Need Your Help!

wbf-world-image

For all those who were able to attend the recent WBF Fall Meeting in Canton, Michigan, our hearts were filled, encouraged and deeply challenged as servants of God in the urgent cause of global missions.  Pastor Rick Henry, the great congregation of First Baptist Canton, and every speaker and musician were powerfully and graciously used of God.  Thank you to all who served in so many ways!

As we head into 2019, I see more than ever the need for churches, pastors and church leaders within the World Baptist Fellowship to join hearts and hands to carry out the mission God has given us.  The truth is, so many churches and pastors are isolated, discouraged and struggling to do on their own what God intends for us to do together.  It is time that we take consistent, practical steps to be there for each other, and to support the work that God is doing in each of our communities and regions.

The churches that make up World Baptist Fellowship do not exist to serve the national Fellowship.  The national Fellowship exists to serve, equip and encourage local churches and pastors.  The work that God has given to us was not given to a Fellowship or denomination.  It was given by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to the local church, but not for churches to serve in isolation from one another.  The New Testament example is one of partnership, cooperation and mutual support.  We need each other!

The WBF Executive Board is looking for churches around the country who may be struggling in their community, whose pastor may be discouraged, so that we can mobilize as WBF pastors and church volunteers to help canvas a community, organize an outreach, fix up a church building, or simply lift up the weary arms of God’s servants.  Can you help us?  If you or your church would like to be considered for such a project in the coming year, please contact any of our WBF Officers or Executive Board members.  If you are a pastor and would be willing to participate, even bring a volunteer team from your church, to help encourage and serve a sister church, please let us know that we can count on you.  We need your help!

Imagine the difference that can be made in communities around the country.  Imagine the joy that comes from selflessly serving a fellow brother in Christ.  Imagine the unity that comes to God’s people when they open their hands and hearts to one another.  May God grant us His favor as we move ahead in our mission as followers of Jesus.

What American Churches Need: A Missionary Mentality

I have pastored in the United States for over a decade, after having spent most of my life on the foreign mission field.  The longer I serve in the United States, see the direction of our country, and witness the health condition of churches in America, I am convinced that we as pastors and churches must embrace a missionary mentality.  In other words, we need to be intentional about doing what we teach foreign missionaries and church-planters to do in order to effectively reach a foreign culture with the Gospel.  I imagine pastors and churches across America look out into their communities and feel like they are living in a foreign culture.  The fact is, they are.

Our society today is a radically different culture from the culture most of us were raised in.  It can be frustrating and discouraging when our ministry efforts fail to connect and engage.  I believe the answer can be found by looking to an amazing group of men and women.  We call them missionaries.  What are missionaries, that are effectively engaging a radically different culture, doing?  What is their mentality?  Four principles come to mind:

 

Cultural adaptation.  Missionaries are intentional about observing and studying the culture they are seeking to reach.  They make efforts to learn the language, the history, the values and priorities, the daily and weekly schedules, the musical styles and expressions, and the local dress.  Then they make intentional and strategic decisions (within clear biblical parameters) to adapt their lifestyle and methodology.  They adapt like Paul (1 Cor 9:19-23), like Hudson Taylor, like Amy Carmichael, and countless others.  We encourage and applaud when missionaries adapt to reach their cultures, and yet we struggle to encourage and applaud pastors and churches that are seeking to adjust methods, schedules and models to reach our current American culture.  We are not called to reach America’s past culture; we are called to reach America’s current culture.

 

Relational discipleship.  With such limited human, financial and technological resources, foreign missionaries have to focus on the basics.  Aside from any organized worship and preaching services, they invest in mentoring relationships that help believers grow, mature and reproduce.  In short, they make disciples (Mt 18:19-20).  They do not focus on lessons and classes alone, nor on friendship and informal time alone.  They focus on both at the same time, whether individually or in very small groups, which is what it takes to meaningfully disciple other believers.  This is often missing in American churches, though there is a growing emphasis that is encouraging to see.

 

Local church training.  Again, when our resources are limited, missionaries are forced to go back to the biblical model alone, which happens to be the best all along.  There usually are no Bible colleges and seminaries, Christian bookstores and Christian radio.  If believers are going to be trained to do the work of the ministry, and even to become pastors and missionaries, the local church has to do it.  That is why so many missionaries start Bible institutes, but even those are usually heavily tied to the local church and their pastors.  Though there is a tremendous need for Bible colleges and seminaries, many churches have relinquished their biblical responsibility of equipping the saints, and they are hoping other institutions will do the work for them.

 

Multiplication mentality.  I know of few missionaries who are not always looking out to other towns, communities and regions that are in need of the Gospel, and of Gospel-preaching churches.  Many missionaries are invested in works in separate towns at the same time!  Those who are involved in effective church planting movements write about the importance of “planting pregnant.”  In other words, from the very beginning of a church plant, there is already a focus and intentionality on planting daughter churches and eventually releasing members to start other churches.  That seems so foreign in America, and yet it is a way of life for most missionaries.

 

I wrestle with these challenges every single day.  I do not claim expertise or point to my church as the model to follow.  But I know that what we need as pastors and churches in America is a return to a missionary mentality.  Sure, it can be discouraging and frustrating, but there is hope for churches in America.  One generation of churches reached the world in the first century.  I believe our current generation can transform both our country and our world with the Gospel.  We have hundreds of living examples all around us.  They are called missionaries.

WBF President’s Post: Aligning with God’s Heart

Aligning with God's Heart - title image

The following is the transcript from the sermon preached at the Hilltop Conference, April 24, 2017, on the campus of the Arlington Baptist University.

It is probably safe to assume that if you are here tonight, you already are committed to the cause of Christ, to the Great Commission, to world evangelism and church planting.  You have probably lost track of the number of times you have quoted, preached or taught on the Great Commission.  Am I wrong?  You can probably quote Matthew 28:19-20 in your sleep!  You know the plan.  You know the marching orders.

But what I want to challenge you with tonight is not so much about remembering the plan or getting with the program.  It goes much deeper than that.  It’s about God’s heart – and our need to constantly realign our heart with His heart.  It is something we need to do individually as followers and servants of Jesus Christ; it is something we need to do corporately as local churches in specific communities; and it is something we need to do collectively as the World Baptist Fellowship, as a partnership of local churches that are committed to the global, eternal cause of the Gospel.

Just like our vehicles can get out of alignment and begin to drift in different directions, our hearts, even as pastors, missionaries, and servants of God, can so easily get out of alignment with God’s heart.  We can begin to pursue our own priorities, agenda, goals and desires.  We don’t do this on purpose.  In fact, it usually happens unintentionally, gradually and imperceptibly.  On the surface, we are still following His plan (at least, that’s what we think, that’s how it seems).  But underneath we have drifted from God’s heart.  Brothers and sisters, tonight I want to challenge you with the need to align with God’s heart.  Listen to these words from our Lord Jesus:

John 4:34-38  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

 I don’t need to say much to all of you about the context of these words.  You know the story, you know the culture, you know the events.  You know about Samaritans and Jews, practically living in each other’s backyard, yet with a cultural divide that seemed impenetrable.  And one of the reasons it was impenetrable was because nobody even wanted to cross the divide.  The Samaritans and Jews were just fine leaving each other alone and ministering to their own people, culture, ways.  Crossing that cultural and ethnic divide wasn’t on anyone’s radar, agenda, or bucket list – especially the disciples.  But listen: it was on God’s heart.

I want you to notice something before we get into these verses: This took place long before the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), long before the Great Commission was given by Jesus (Mt 28; Mk 16), even long before the Cross of Calvary.  This too place long before the NT church received those famous marching orders, and was empowered by the Spirit of God to reproduce itself in Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth.  Long before the “plan” and the “program” was defined and delivered, we get to see the heart of Jesus, the heart of God.  You see, it’s not about God’s program; it’s about God’s heart.

Remember what had just happened here.  The Samaritan woman was not looking for Jesus, but Jesus had been intentional about going to her.  As a result of their conversation about living water, true worshippers, and the coming Messiah, this woman finally understood and responded to the Gospel.  She then returned to her town to share the news about Jesus, and now a crowd of Samaritans was headed toward Jesus and His disciples (vs 28-30).  Unlike many of the Jews, this crowd, this people group, was open to the Gospel message and ready to respond in faith (vs 39, 41).  But before all those Samaritans became followers of Jesus, the Lord was privately opening His heart with His disciples, so that they could see His heart, and align their heart with His.

The disciples had been on a grocery run, and had gone into town to buy “meat” or food.  Now that they were back, what they had on their minds was their stomach.  And they wanted Jesus to stop and eat (vs 31).  But, as Jesus often did, He turned the physical situation around to talk about spiritual things (vs 32-33).

It is here that Jesus shares His passion, His heart (vs 34).  This was His “meat” (“This is what nourishes me, sustains me, fuels me, drives me”).  What was it?  It was a commitment to the Father’s will and the Father’s work.  It was a passion to do God’s will, and to finish God’s work.  Not His own plans, agenda, goals, and dreams, but those of His Heavenly Father.  That was what fueled Jesus – being aligned with the heart of the Heavenly Father.

Let me ask you this: What fuels you?  What is it that nourishes you and drives you?  What is your passion in life and ministry?  Are you fueled by your own life goals, ministry dreams, career path, and personal ambitions?  Maybe your fuel is running a bit low, and you are frustrated in life and ministry because of unmet expectations.  Things just aren’t the way you think they should be.  Maybe you find yourself relating to those disciples, standing there with their mouths hanging open, because God is doing something in your life and ministry that you don’t understand, that you aren’t comfortable with, and that does not fit into your model and strategy.

Friend, it is here that you and I must make a choice.  Do we align with God’s heart, or do we fight for our own?  In the next few verses, Jesus allows us to see a bit of God’s heart.  We get a glimpse of God’s heart for the world and for the Kingdom.  What is God’s will that we must do as pastors and churches?  What is God’s work that we must finish as pastors and churches?  You see, long before the local church began its world missions work, we see that God’s heart has always involved two fundamental things.  These two things happen to be at the core of our mission and purpose as the World Baptist Fellowship.  First, we see that God’s heart involves:
Cross-cultural Vision (vs 35)

You and I know that Jesus was not speaking of the farmland all around them.  He was speaking about people, about the souls of men, women, boys and girls.  But He was not specifically referring to Jewish people.

As Jesus was speaking these words, dozens, if not hundreds, of people from another culture were headed their way.  These were people with different habits, traditions, politics, worship practices, preferences, and countless other differences, yet having the same desperate need of Jesus, of forgiveness, of salvation, of the Gospel.  This culture, this people group, needed the Gospel just as much as the Jews did.  And God’s heart was to reach those people too.

Jesus told the disciples to lift up their eyes and look.  “Look up and look out!”  In other words, be intentional.  Look beyond your community, ethnic group, social demographic, nationality.  There are people and people groups everywhere, and they desperately need a Savior.  Many of them are different than you, but they are lost without Jesus.  Honestly, their ways might make you uncomfortable, but allowing them to be damned in hell should make you even more uncomfortable.  You cannot be aligned with the heart of God without having a cross-cultural vision, burden and passion.

Yes, there are people groups across the oceans that need to be reached, that must be reached, and it’s on us to do so.  But there are also cultures and ethnic groups all around us and around our churches that we are supposed to see with the same heart that Jesus sees them.  Why?  Because it’s the plan?  Because it’s the program?  No, it’s so much deeper than that.

We need a cross-cultural vision because this is God’s heart!  A heart that “so loved the world.”  A heart for all cultures, ethnic groups, and nations.  A heart for true, biblical diversity.  A heart for multicultural ministry and outreach.  A heart to do whatever we must do as pastors and as churches to effectively connect with people that are not just like us.

Jesus seemed to be “ahead of His time” when He spoke these words.  Jesus was preaching to non-Jews long before the local church figured it out.  Samaritans came to Christ long before Pentecost, the early church years, the persecution and scattering of believers, and even the preaching of Philip (Acts 8).  Why?  Because it is God’s heart, and Jesus was already aligned with it.  It is God’s heart, and it needs to be ours as well.

The disciples were not initially aligned with God’s heart.  They did not have a cross-cultural, multicultural vision and burden.  But Jesus did.  And it was on them to move, to align.  It took guys like Peter a very long time, a lot of divine intervention, and some personal confrontations (like with Paul), before he was willing to truly move beyond his prejudices and personal convictions to align with God’s heart, to align with God’s will and God’s work.

The need for a cross-cultural vision and burden is just as pressing today.  The implications for world missions are obvious – with over 6,500 people groups still unreached, and with millions of souls without access to a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ.  But it’s not just for foreign missionaries.

Pastors, preachers and ministry leaders in America need it too.  We need a cross-cultural vision for our own churches and ministries.  The World Baptist Fellowship is not exactly a beacon of cultural and ethnic diversity in America.  We have not been very effective at engaging and equipping pastors who are African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American (just look around).  We live in a very diverse culture, and yet our churches struggle (as does our Fellowship at times) to make the necessary changes to connect with the diverse culture that is all around us.  We are perfectly content with shaping our ministries to reach people just like us.  But that is not the heart of God.

Everything changes when we align with God’s heart, when we see people like Jesus sees people.  Jesus made it clear that we must have a sense of urgency about this (“they are white already”).  The disciples talked like they had plenty of time.  It was not a priority for them.  But Jesus knew that the time is now!  Not the next generation.  Not once we get all our ministry ducks in a row.  Not when we have figured out all the logistics.  Not when we get more people and more money.  This is God’s heart already!  And it is on us as pastors, churches, and as a Fellowship to align with God’s heart (not vice-versa).

But we can’t do this alone, nor does God intend for us to.  In fact, the only way we can truly do God’s will and truly finish God’s work, is if we are committed to working together.  God’s heart has always involved cross-cultural vision, but God’s heart also involves:

 

Diverse Partnerships (vs 36-38)

Jesus wanted the disciples to understand what would be necessary to reach the people groups of the world.  So He spoke of diverse roles partnering together, and diverse laborers partnering together.

Again, this was long before the Great Commission, and the book of Acts.  This was long before we read of the Macedonian churches doing Faith Promise giving.  God’s heart has always involved partnerships.  It involves God’s people working “together,” partnering “together,” for a cause that is much bigger than you and me, and much bigger than any one of our churches.  In God’s Kingdom, some people are planting, some people are harvesting; some generations go before, some generations come along after, but they are all rejoicing because they are partnering together to do God’s will, to finish God’s work.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9a  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.  For we are labourers together with God.

This is clearly God’s heart for you and for me, and for the World Baptist Fellowship: Christians, pastors and churches partnering together in unity to reach the world with the Gospel.

But I don’t have to tell you that partnerships aren’t always easy or convenient.  In fact, it is often easier and simpler for us just to go our separate ways, go it alone, and do things our way, the way we like them, the way we think they should be done.  But God’s work is not for Lone Rangers, and it never was supposed to be.  That is not the heart of God.

Jesus knew that diverse partnerships would be difficult and challenging, which is why we see Jesus praying and pleading with the Father for cooperation and unity among His people, as they were being sent “into the world”:

John 17:18, 20-21  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world…  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Unity does not come naturally.  We have to pray for it.  We have to fight for it.  We have to be intentional about it.  We have to be willing to die to ourselves, and remember what it is that unites us as followers and servants of Jesus Christ.  What unites us is our faith, our doctrine, the Gospel that we hold to as fundamental Baptists.  What unites us is the mission that God has given us to do together.  You simply cannot be aligned with the heart of God if you are not committed to diverse partnerships.

The problem arises when we don’t know how to handle our personal convictions, or the personal convictions of others.  Even as preachers, we often fail to distinguish between doctrine, personal convictions, and preferences.  Doctrine is crystal clear, it is laid out specifically in the Word of God, and is true for every generation, every culture, every nation, every period of history.  Personal convictions, however, are important, but are not doctrine (they are not specifically mentioned or commanded in Scripture).  Personal convictions are when we take doctrinal truth and biblical principles and apply them in countless different ways in our life, family, culture and ministry.  I need to develop personal convictions, based upon God’s Word, and so do you.  But mine are probably going to differ from yours, even though we both love God and God’s Word – and that’s okay.  Preferences, on the other hand, are not based upon Bible doctrine or biblical principles at all.  They are simply a matter of taste, of likes and dislikes, nothing more.

Here’s where the problem comes in (within local churches and within Fellowships of churches):  We treat our own personal convictions as if they are doctrine (therefore anyone who doesn’t hold our personal convictions is treated as compromising God’s Word).  And then we treat the personal convictions of others as if they are just preferences (with no foundation whatsoever, so we don’t value them or respect them).  That approach is caustic to the work of God, and to the partnerships that God has commanded.  We end up not doing God’s will and not finishing God’s work.

Paul tells us in Romans 14 that we can be passionate about our personal convictions, but we can still partner with those whose personal convictions are different than ours.  However, we must be careful not to resent them or judge them, and realize that they love Jesus and the Bible just as much as we do.

Romans 14:3  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

But of all that Paul lays out in that amazing chapter, I believe it all culminates in one phrase:

Romans 14:20a  For meat destroy not the work of God.

In other words, don’t destroy the work of God by fighting for your personal convictions.  It’s not worth it.  The collateral damage is too great.  Too many souls in our communities and around the world will spend eternity in hell because we placed our personal convictions above our need to partner together with fellow servants of God.

No one should have to give up or compromise their personal convictions in order to partner with others in God’s Kingdom.  I shouldn’t have to, and I should expect you to either.  Listen:  When our personal convictions are more important to us than partnering together to reach the world, I believe we have drifted from God’s heart.  God’s heart is all always been about diverse partnerships.

The fields may be white unto harvest in many places, but if are going to reach the cultures and people groups of the world, we desperately need more Christians and churches to partner together.

Matthew 9:37-38  Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

That is why the World Baptist Fellowship and its mission is so important.  It’s not just about renewing friendships, hearing good preaching, and visiting our alma mater.  Our proposed WBF Constitution puts it this way:

The purpose of this Fellowship is to further the cause of world evangelism, through the networking and cooperation of autonomous Baptist churches, in planting indigenous Baptist churches across the United States and around the world.

This Fellowship is about aligning with God’s heart, by churches partnering together to do the will of God, and to finish the work of God.  That was what fueled the heart of Jesus.  That is what must fuel our hearts as well.

 

Jesus said: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”  When I get to the end of my life and ministry, I don’t want to join Frank Sinatra and sing, “I did it my way.”  I want to join Paul the Apostle in saying, “I have finished my course” (2 Timothy 4:7).  I want to be able to come to the end of my ministry say like Jesus did, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).

I don’t know about you, but I want my heart to be aligned with God’s heart.  I want the World Baptist Fellowship to be aligned with God’s heart.  I want us to be fueled by a cross-cultural vision and a commitment to diverse partnerships.  I pray that God gives us a renewed passion for world missions, for church planting, for ethnic diversity, and for our churches to recommit to partnering together at a local, regional and national level.

Preacher, would you come and plead with God to realign your heart with His?  To make His will your will?  His passion your passion?  His perspective your perspective?  Are you willing to do that?

Would you ask God for a cross-cultural vision, burden and passion – even in your own community?  Would you commit to partnering with fellow servants of God, who, despite certain differences are committed to the same cause, the same message, the same truth, the same Lord?  Imagine what God could do through the World Baptist Fellowship in the coming year if we are aligned with the heart of God.

“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”  Can you say that as well?  Is it your passion?  Is it what fuels you and sustains you?  Brothers and sisters, let’s ask God to align our hearts tonight, and to light a fire that will burn within us until our final breath, until Jesus calls us home.

Missionary, Thank You For Leading

Missionary, I want you to know how thankful I am for you.  I know many of you personally, and I thank God for your friendship and consistent testimony over the years.  But there is so much more that I am thankful for.

Missionary, thank you for leading by example.  You are living out the principle of indigenous church planting that we pastors and churches in the United States need to model and implement.  We need to lead churches that are not only self-governing and self-supporting, but that are also self-reproducing in other church plants in our region.  We need to be “hands on” in equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry, to step up to lead and to make disciples that make disciples within our congregations.  You lead by example in foreign countries or cultures, and you remind us of its importance with every prayer letter you write, and every missionary video you create.

Missionary, thank you for leading by example.  You are living out the principle of living by faith.  We all have to live by faith, regardless of our vocation or location, and yet you allow us to see what that looks like in a very tangible way.  You remind us that if you step out by faith, God will provide.  You remind us that even if God is your only Resource, He is more than sufficient.  You lead by example as you travel the country raising support, travel and live overseas or in other cultures, and then travel the nation reporting on God’s victories – all the while relying upon God to move the hearts of His people to provide for your needs.

Missionary, I know it’s not much, but thank you.

WBF President’s Post: New Year, New Opportunities

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The World Baptist Fellowship begins another year of ministry, as do our churches and families.  I believe 2017 will be an instrumental year for our network of churches to take significant steps forward in clarifying and carrying out our mission of partnering together to plant multiplying churches across the country and around the world.

The single greatest challenge and opportunity involves the approval of a new constitution (by-laws).  The WBF Officers and Board of Directors are working together to draft a clear, updated document that will accomplish several objectives:

  1. Clarify our mission and vision: Why do we exist? Where are we going?
  2. Constitute a new Executive Board that will represent our affiliate ministries, our regional fellowships, and our missionaries
  3. Create a simple fellowship structure that will allow our national fellowship and regional fellowships to function effectively and efficiently, and lead projects and efforts that further our mission

In the coming weeks, we will be posting the proposed constitution online for pastors and church members to review, and presenting it to the Nominating and Resolutions Committee.  At the upcoming Hilltop Conference (April 24-26) we will make some printed copies available upon your arrival.  It is important that you come and participate in this important WBF meeting as we will be voting on the approval of this new constitution.

I am excited about what these changes will allow us to accomplish as pastors and churches, and how they will benefit our worldwide missionary efforts.  The impact we can have as we partner together is exponentially greater than any efforts we could attempt on our own.  May God make 2017 a transformative year in the history of World Baptist Fellowship.