Shaddix urges congregations to mobilize for global missionsby C. Walter Overman
In the modern information age pastors can turn to a variety of resources to find the latest step-by-step guide to church growth, evangelism and missions mobilization.
Although Jim Shaddix, pastor for teaching and training at the Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., is not opposed to using pragmatic strategies to advance the Kingdom of God, he cautioned that reliance on strategies can diminish the church’s dependence on God’s power.
“Probably the greatest hindrance to missions today is that we are attempting to do the work of God without the Spirit of God,” he said. “It is my conviction that we are a Christian culture that is more influenced by our secular culture than we want to admit when it comes to best practices. We think that if we can just get another tool, we can get there.”
Shaddix led a break out session during the recent 20/20 “Gospel and Missions” Collegiate Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary that focused on how to mobilize congregations for global missions.
Shaddix stressed that effective missions mobilization does not begin with strategies, but with a burden to reach the nations with the gospel.
“Our biggest challenge is the heart condition of people we are trying to mobilize,” he said. “We have to understand that the mobilization of people to take the gospel to the nations occurs as hearts are changed.”
Prayer is essential to changing hearts, and may require churches to change the emphasis of prayer meetings from an inward focus on personal and physical needs to an outward focus on impacting lostness worldwide. Prayer is also an effective way to involve everyone in global missions, as all believers can pray.
Shaddix used Luke 10:1-2 to illustrate how Jesus fueled His missional strategy by organizing the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest for laborers.
“In America we have so many resources we think we can pick another plan to accomplish the Great Commission. Here is the Lord of the universe who says to pray to the Lord of the harvest,” Shaddix said. “We have an assurance that if we beckon them to pray and get them praying that there is a fueling [for missions] that takes place.”
Fervent prayer must also be accompanied by gospel-saturated preaching. In an era of practicality, pastors are prone to preach the Bible as if it were primarily a self-help manual. Sharing biblical wisdom is prudent, but should not overshadow the Bible’s overarching redemptive theme.
“Our best chance of mobilizing congregations is going to come when it is something that is the outgrowth of the theology of the preaching event,” Shaddix said. “Bible preaching transforms people’s hearts with the gospel. This is why missions mobilization is going to happen most potently where the Bible is expounded on in an effort to simply let it say what it says.”
Churches that rely on the power of God through concerted prayer and the preaching of His Word are primed to execute a practical plan to reach the nations with the gospel. One practical step is to specifically target and adopt an unreached or unengaged people group (visit www.imb.org to learn more about unengaged, unreached people groups and how to get involved).
“Be specific by talking about, identifying and reaching people groups. That gives your people something to hold on to,” Shaddix said. “Give your people a tangible goal. We have a better chance to fulfill the Great Commission when they have a target to work with.”
Above all, he said to preach the Bible, lead believers to pray and challenge them to forsake the American dream for the Kingdom of God.
“We are called to a level of sacrifice,” Shaddix said. “Call your people to risk everything for the gospel.”