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You’ve Been Called. You’ve Been Sent. Now GO!


Matthew and Luke 10 are deeply meaningful passages of Scripture for how we reach out to the world around us. As Jesus gives instructions for the disciples to go out into the world on mission, he obviously knows that we will be reading these instructions for generation after generation to get our marching orders as well.

These verses can be seen through the lens of specific steps to take as we go on mission – first we pray, then we select the right workers, then we send them out, then look for a receptive person, etc. Looked at through a different lens, they also give us our values for missions; we value prayer, we value teamwork, etc. In this study, I’d like to look at these words of Jesus through a third lens, that of the missions principles that we see in these words of Jesus. One of the reasons that we have frustration and failure in our personal and organizational mission efforts is that we follow our own principles instead of these principles of Jesus. Understanding and implementing these mission principles of Jesus is the key to getting out to everyone the message of Christ’s love.

1. Specifically call and specifically send people on mission.

1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions:

We think that God will do the calling and sending, and in one sense of course he does. God initiates the calling and sending, yet he almost always communicates that call and sending through a local body of believers. The New Testament example is the church of Antioch, which saw the need for Paul and Barnabas to go to the gentile world, and so called and sent them out. Because the local church is the body of Christ in the world, this is where the call and the sending will most often come in our lives today – sometimes through an individual church and at other times through a group of churches working together. The wonderful thing about this is that we then have the support and prayers of that family of believers as we go.

Unless the call to be sent is made clear through a local body of believers to individual believers, people will not go. One of the keys to missions is a leader who will stand up to say, “God wants you to go, and this is where he wants you to go.” Remember that being sent doesn’t necessarily mean going to another country, God is sending us every day in the relationships that are all around us. Being on mission is a lifestyle, not a trip.

For me this means I must listen to the prompting of God’s Spirit when he is sending me to share the good news with someone. It also means that I must listen to the leadership that I get from others – maybe someone in my small group or my pastor. Be aware of the fact that we’ll often feel resistant at first when we hear the call – you can check the stories of all who were called in the Bible to confirm this. This is an area of our lives where most of us need the leadership and the encouragement of others to help us break through our natural resistance to get outside of ourselves and share the good news.

What PERSON is God calling you to share the good news with? What PLACE is God calling you to go – near or far?

2. Give authority with responsibility.

When Jesus sent his followers out, he gave them the authority to do the job that he had sent them to do. He trusted them, even though they still had much to learn. It is good to organize support and training for those who are doing missions through a missions organization or a church – but when the organization becomes too complex it can easily become a barrier to the very mission it is trying to accomplish. Those involved in doing the ministry can become frozen in waiting for permission to act because we trust the organization to make decisions instead of trusting those who are doing the ministry. Of course there are times when we need the wisdom and direction of a larger group of people, but the authorization to do the day to day ministry must stay as close to those who are doing the actual ministry as possible. One of the great works of ministry is to keep the organization as simple as possible, with authority to do the ministry given as freely as possible. Roland Allen writes, “Elaborate organization exercises a strange fascination over the minds of men… it tends to become an end it itself.” (Spontaneous… p. 98)

On an individual level, it’s important to remember that Jesus has authorized every one of us to share the good news of Christ. The call to share isn’t just for pastors or missionaries, it is for every one of us. So the power and strength to share the good news is given to every one of us as well. You are an authorized representative of Jesus Christ!!

The third principle has more to say about the sending.

3. Focus your target for effective evangelism

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

Jesus’ strategy, his focus, during his public ministry was to reach out to the lost sheep of Israel. There was a theological reason for this – it was not yet the right time for the message to be taken to the gentiles. For the disciples as they were sent out there was also a strategic reason – you cannot reach everyone at once so you must choose your focus.

If you ask the average church who they are trying to reach, the answer will be “everyone.” But no one can reach everyone. First, there are too many people to be reached and too many places to go for any one church or mission organization to reach them all. And beyond this practical consideration there is also a demographic reality, some groups are better at reaching some areas than others. So you need to know who your target is so you can develop the methods to go after that target. You reach farmers in a different way than you reach doctors. You reach young people in a different way than you reach old people.

We focus not to be exclusive, but to be effective. Of course our heart is to reach out to everyone. The reality is that you can’t be everywhere at once, so you must focus. The reality is also that there are some people that you can best reach out to, better than anyone else. Those are the people that you should focus on as a church.

As individuals, our focus often starts with our own family and friends – with those who are closest to us. It’s often the most difficult to reach out to those who are closest to us, because we feel their rejection or sometimes ridicule so much more strongly and personally if it comes to us or we wonder how they’ll respond because they know our faults. They’ve also seen firsthand the changes that Jesus is making in our lives – so we have an opportunity to reach out to them that no one else will have. God often works in families, working through one person to lead many in the family to Jesus.

You are sent
You are authorized
You must focus

photo credit: funkandjazz

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