Friday, September 9, 2011

short term missions: why?

For the past few weeks we have been looking at short term missions; not through the lens of a program, anthropology, or even results based evaluations, but rather through scripture. Specifically, we have been using the Matthew's account of the sending out of the 12 as our “model”, but now we are going to be borrowing a little from the other versions to wrap this up.

We have examined who should be involved, what they should be doing, when they are ready, even where they should go. We are now left with the question...

short term missions: why?

I am going to throw in a little disclaimer here: I am at best an amateur theologian. I like to drop that any time I am giving people El Chupacabraisms as a warning to check out what I'm saying. If you think what I'm saying is off, feel free to chastise, rebuke, or correct.  

So anyway back to these guys, these 12. Remember Jesus sent them out and told them to take nothing, He warned them it was not going to be easy, He gave them a lists of all the terrible things that could/would happen to them and sent them on their way under His authority.

Jesus is basically saying, go out and see if this is for you, and well, it worked!

When they get back they are PUMPED!

In Mark we learn the first thing they do is break it down for Jesus, The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.” (Mark 6:30). So how do I know they are pumped? They are talking about it.

Guys talk about victory, not failure. To the be-peniled amongst us, even semi-failures sometimes become victories (see fishing stories), but only in order to enhance the excitement of a positive experience. If there is truly failure, there is silence. So while it scripture doesn't exactly say that these guys are fired up about their trip, I like to think they were.

Not only did this short term mission trip help amp them up for ministry, but it helped teach them to trust in Jesus.

Immediately after the disciples get done telling Jesus what happened on their adventure, Jesus busts out with the feeding of the 5,000, with 5 loves of bread and 2 fish! Again, showing the disciples that He will provide for them, and Peter is learning.

After leaving the 5,000, Jesus sends the disciples on their way, by themselves, in a boat. Sometime later, while the disciples are bobbing in the middle of the lake, Jesus shows up walking on the water, and what does Peter do? He says if YOU tell me to, I can walk on water.

Why did Peter ask? What told him he could do it?

Jesus told him to go and he would be provided for, and he was. Jesus told him to feed 5,000 with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and he did.

Jesus is showing disciples they can trust Him! If Peter did not go out on that short term mission as a disciple, when he was ready, with nothing but faith, he would not only not have been able to walk on the water, he would not even know to ask!

Why is this trust so important?

Jesus' teaching are about to get really hard. In John 6 we see this teaching pissing off some of Jesus' other disciples, yes he had more than 12, and many of them bail, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60). But not the 12!

Jesus asks them flat out if they are going to bail too, and its the very same Peter that trusted Jesus enough to walk on the water, who answers:

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Peter (John 6:68-69)

So why short term missions?

Because when short term missions are done according to His plan:
  • disciples being sent,
  • sent out with nothing but faith,
  • sent when its truly about someone other than themselves,
  • sent to all people in need not only the most “sexy” of the least of these

those being sent are learning to trust in Jesus!

What can be done with people that truly trust in Jesus?

Well, with 12 Jesus built the Church!

What do you need to do to be apart of His plan in His way? How can you live out a missional existence where you are right now? What could you, your church, your community, do to change YOUR world if His plan was being followed?

the rest of the series:
short term missions: who?

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