In two previous 'future' posts, 'consumers or servants' and 'learning to serve', I suggested that guiding our young people away from a consumer mentality into one of discipleship, engagement and mission is one of the biggest challenges youth leaders, certainly in the west, face today. I'm confident that our teaching would bear more fruit, our prayer be more vibrant if witness, mission and social action were an integral part of youth ministry.
Here are my 5 reasons to help answer the question, 'Why should I be involved in mission?' Use this as a personal reflection, as part of a presentation or perhaps an outline for a youth group study.
1. GOD'S LOVE FOR ME
As I read through the Book of Acts it's clear that the early Christians gave themselves to mission because of their overwhelming experience of God's love in their lives. Their sacrifice and commitment to mission stemmed from their gratitude to God for saving them. The Apostle Paul constantly reminded the early churches of God's love for them,
'The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me' Galatians 2:20
'We know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.' Romans 5:5
John Newton was once the captain of a slave ship but his experience of God's love, for such an undeserving person, completely transformed his life. So much so, he could write the words, 'Amazing grace, how sweet
the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see.'
Why should I be involved in mission? It's because I'm a sinner saved by God's grace, freely given, out of his love for me. And my thankfulness to God is expressed as I share His transforming life and love with others.
2. CHRIST'S COMMAND TO ME
The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus' final words before he ascended into heaven.
'Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Matthew 28:18-20
Christ directs his followers to make disciples. Why should I be
involved in mission? It's because my Lord directed me to be, and a
mission focussed life is a sign of obedience to that command.
3. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ME
It was inconceivable to the early Christians that anyone could receive the Holy Spirit without being fired-up and equipped to witness for Christ at every opportunity. The New Testament clearly demonstrates that mission and evangelism is the work of the Spirit of God in and through us. The Holy Spirit is the prime agent of mission in God's people to God's world.
'But I will send you the Advocate - the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.' John 15:26
'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' Acts 1:8
'For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true.' 1 Thessalonians 1:5
It's clear in the New Testament that the believers did the witnessing,
but the Holy Spirit gave the power and produced conviction in the
hearers. We are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit for mission, and
as we seek to be continually filled with the Spirit this should oblige
us to live a mission focussed life. Why should I be engaged in mission?
It's because the Spirit was given to me to make me a missionary to a lost world.
4. MY RESPONSIBILITY AS AN AMBASSADOR
There's a part of most capital cities (usually an expensive part!) where you'll find the foreign embassies. Many will work in these buildings, but at the head is the ambassador. He has considerable responsibilities; he represents his country in a foreign land; he personally speaks on behalf of his leaders or government; he is personally responsible for passing on his nation's views or policies. He can also play a crucial role in the peace and security of the world.
'So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!' 2 Corinthians 5:20
Why should I be involved in mission? I have the privilege and
responsibility to be Christ's ambassador and speak on his behalf to
those around me.
5. MY CONVICTION THAT PEOPLE ARE LOST WITHOUT CHRIST
Through the history of the church one of the main motivating values for mission has been a deep sense of the appalling need of those who were out of touch with the living God.
'Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.' Ephesians 2:1
Men and women, young people and children are spiritually dead without
Christ. General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was once
challenged in a conversation with an atheist who said, 'If I believed
what you Christians believe, I would crawl across England, on my hands
and knees if need be, to tell men about it.'
Why should I be engaged in mission? It's because the young people in my community are ultimately lost and without hope unless someone tells them about Christ.
'Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.' But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?' Romans 10:13-15
Perhaps as I try to make these reasons more genuine in my own life, others might catch the vision.
Every week I plan to add more youth ministry resources and personal reflections on youth ministry and leadership. May I encourage you to subscribe to INSIGHT and you won't miss a thing.