It is easy to be caught up in the work of missions to lose sight of what is most valuable. Jesus himself once warned that at the end many will come to him and think that projects, or buildings, or ministries, or spiritual gifts were signs of one’s salvation. However, as Jesus points out, it is the personal encounter with the truth that while we were still lost, God sought us out and saved us through his work. Just as the Gospel is God-initiated and God-breathed, so must any of our missions efforts.
While the Gospel comes first, it is important that the Gospel is not just meant for our own personal consumption. Rather, when we are captivated by the message of the Gospel, we join those who came before us in being witnesses to our families, friends, local communities, nation, and beyond. This is such a core piece of the Christian experience that each book of the Gospel and the book of Acts refers to this calling for both individuals and the church.
Missions is Spirit-Led. It is only through the working of the Holy Spirit that anyone is saved. Because both salvation and missions is God’s work, we submit ourselves to his movement. What this means is that we do not have any pre-conceived strategies for geography, people group, timing, etc. We remain open to let God’s Spirit move among our church, elders, and family to set us on the paths where He wants us.
When we observe the early missionary efforts in the book of Acts, we see a church-centered approach. We see Paul and Barnabas raised from within the church of Antioch and then commissioned to go out as missionaries, where the Spirit directed them. As a result, Mercy Hill’s missions efforts will focus on discipling and equipping those who are part of our church family to hear and answer the Spirit’s call on their lives towards missions. When on mission, Mercy Hill will strive to work within the local church, and if one is not present, move to plant a one to fill the void.
While Paul and Peter both gave stirring sermons, it is the relationships which they build which are the foundation of their ministry. Paul and Barnabas are sent out from the church of Antioch as brothers and close friends. In response, relationships will under-pin all the work we do in missions. We will build relationships within the church, with our future missionaries, with our current missionaries, and within our Spirit-led mission fields.
In Acts, we see the apostles’ ministry mirror that of Jesus. They addressed the spiritual, physical, emotional, and social needs of those both within the church and outside of it. Furthermore, in Acts we see a wide range of approaches and personalities engaged in missions. Today’s mission field brings even a broader range of gifting, which can include engineering, accounting, administrative, as well as traditional roles. Mercy Hill does not look to limit how God choses to use us and we remain open to seeing God’s creative hand at work in missions.
Paul both sacrificed greatly to reach the unreached and was yet also faithfully supported through his relationships with churches. In response, the Mercy Hill church family will faithfully support missions, particularly missionaries with close ties with our family. When on mission, whether short term or long term, Mercy Hill asks our missionaries to live at a level which demonstrate the sacrificial nature of the Gospel. Likewise, the church family at home will be encouraged to give beyond what is comfortable to see that the missions and missionaries have the resources needed to faithfully complete their work.