He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Saturday, May 26, 2012 

Program or Passion?

One of the reasons churches are not doing more  to reach a lost world is that missions is just another program. Without passion for the mission of God, there will be little motivation to do what it takes to take the gospel to unreached people groups or even to the unsaved in our own community.

I have always been amazed at the marketing and promotion needed to convince church members to attend an event or enroll in basic programs needed for their spiritual growth and the health of the church. Why do people have to be influenced and persuaded to do what should be normative for a follower of Jesus Christ? Such passivity probably reflects the low level of commitment on the part of the average church member, but does it also reflect on the shallowness of time-consuming activities in which participation itself is presumed to reveal spirituality?

Naively, I have always thought the innate value of programs and ministry should promote themselves without the need to berate and plead with members to attend. Unfortunately, missions falls into the same category. It is unrealistic to think members are going dip into savings to fund a mission trip, take their limited vacation time and endure the discomfort of spending a week in a remote third world country because of a promotional appeal hidden in the midst of a plethora of church announcements.
Missions motivation and involvement show whether or not one takes seriously being an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ. One should not have to be cajoled to have concern for a lost world; a few videos, missionary testimonies and reminders of the consequences of lostness should touch the heart of those who call Christ as Lord. Our hearts should be broken for what breaks the heart of God—people who reject Him and do not yet even know that He died for them.

Missions does not happen because people are put on a guilt trip, conscripted into service against their will or out of a sense of obligation because someone has got to do it. It cannot be just another program appeal which, unfortunately, is usually peripheral to everything else the church does. Passion is the only thing that will compel missions involvement—a passion that emerges from a love for God and desire for everyone to have an opportunity to know and worship Him.

Passion is what guides one’s decisions, energizes one’s behavior, prioritizes one’s activities and stimulates the willingness to sacrifice. I have a passion for my grandchildren. I can’t restrain talking about them and being with them every opportunity. There is a joy in both being with them and doing things for them. I sometimes have a passion for my favorite ball team and tend to get really excited when they pull out an unlikely win. Okay, so I also have a passion for butter pecan ice cream; put a bowl in front of me and it is irresistible!

So, what about the activity of God to advance His kingdom and impact eternity? Should that not elicit some excitement for the opportunity to be involved on mission with God? Should we not find the awesome privilege of taking the gospel to someone who has never heard as something that is irresistible? Could anything bring greater joy and fulfillment than obedience to what our Lord told us to do?
Pastors would like for church members to be motivated by a passion for worship, Bible study, discipleship, community service, filling church leadership needs and witnessing to the lost, and they should. All are good and should be the normal, default lifestyle of born-again Christians. But when we stand before God to give account for what we have done, I don’t think He is going to be impressed with the families we served, our attendance statistics and the beautiful facilities we provided with the Lord’s money when many never had a chance to know Jesus.

- by Dr. Jerry Rankin

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