JulAnti 06-11-166      


Reuniting the Church with Her Mission


Tom Julien

BMH Books, 2006, 117 pp., ISBN 0-88469-306-6


Tom Julien served many years as a missionary in France and later as the Executive Director for Grace Brethren International Missions.  In this book he tells the story of “John” who comes to understand that mission is woven into the very essence of the church.  John proceeds to help his sending church rediscover, and organize to fulfill, its true mission.  The author hopes to help ordinary church leaders organize around the mission.


“It is one of the great tragedies of church history—the divorce between the church and her mission.  Today few churches even know that the divorce occurred, making it even more painful.  The separation has persisted so long that it seems normal.” (1)


“The church is missionary by nature.  The Great Commission is the fundamental law of her existence.  (1)


According to Harry Boer “One hardly knows where in Acts to look for a distinction between Church and missions.  Restlessly the Spirit drives the Church to witness, and continually churches rise out of the witness.”  “The Church as a whole is missionary in all her relationships.”  (2, quoting Harry R. Boer, Pentecost and Missions, 1979 Eerdmans, pp. 161-162)


“Ever since John had become a missionary he was something of a local hero, especially among the children of the church.  This did not necessarily mean that the people felt any personal involvement in John’s ministry, or even a sense of obligation to the Great Commission.  For them, missions was identified with John himself.  They were proud of him, and some of them looked upon him almost with a sense of awe.  He was ‘their missionary.’  Few in the church, however, had the slightest idea that what John was doing was ‘their ministry.’  Their role was clear—it was to send the monthly check….”  (8)


“…this divorce has in many ways impoverished the church spiritually.  But… missionaries have also suffered.  Sometimes we feel a little bit like spiritual orphans.  We enjoy our visitation rights.  It is wonderful to be here.  We are able to serve only because of your financial support.  But we do not want that support to be like alimony.  We would like to feel that we are a real part of a family.  We would like to feel that what we are doing is really your ministry, something that you are doing through us.” (10)


“In the church of Antioch, mission grew out of the local church, rather than being grafted onto it.”  “These first missionaries received their call in their church, not in a missions conference.” (16)


John realized that “he considered what he was doing in Africa to be his ministry, not an extension of the ministry of his church.” (17)


“…the Great Commission is not an external commandment imposed upon the church, but a statement of the life principle of the church.  It is the fundamental law of the very existence of the church, for it is the expression of her essence.” (18)


“When people lose their global vision, they begin to lose their spiritual vitality.  And of course all this affects their values.  How many churches do we know where paving the parking lot becomes more important than reaching the lost?” (23)


Primary point:  “Missions is not what the church does for the missionary but what the church does through the missionary.” (25)


The church is the focal point of God’s plan, in the world to fulfill her mission.  Churches must be proactive in fulfilling the Great Commission, not just reacting to missionary appeals.  The church’s mission is to make disciples of all nations and gather them into local communities.  Agencies are partners, serving local churches by helping them do what they could not do alone. (25)


Every church needs a missions action plan or MAP, to help them find where they are, focus on a destination, and guide them to get there. (30)  The first step is identifying the mission of the church and the second step might be a missionary. (31)


Church leaders can think strategically, guiding their activities by vision and goals.  But planning is hard.  (33) 


Missions committees sometimes get in the way of doing missions.  They may marginalize the Great Commission, “too often putting it in the hands of people who are not on the inside track in the church body.” (34) 


“When you talk about committees, it seems that most people really have to be pushed before they are willing to serve.  Then when they accept, they usually have no particular duties except to attend the meetings.  They generally come to the meetings without much background about what they are going to discuss.  They leave without being given any responsibilities.” (34) 


“What if they knew they were chosen because of their skills and commitment, rather than because no one else was willing to serve?  What if they were joined to the others because of some common goals that everyone was excited about?  What if each had a role to play that they knew was essential to the success of the group?  What if they had a leader who saw them not as obstacles to his personal plans, but players who were indispensable for the fulfillment of the vision?”  This is a team – committed to mission and focused on action!  (35)


If we want to educate the church in the Mission Action Plan, we need to look for the best educator in the church. (36)


“…every member of the church needs to be mobilized for its mission—not just the missionaries the church sends to other countries.  If the Great Commission is for all believers, then everyone ought to be involved in one way or another.” “Total mobilization.” (40) 


“Some people would say that every Christian is a missionary, and in one way that’s true, because we are all sent ones.  But that pretty much makes the term meaningless.”  “A missionary is someone who is sent from the church to the world.”  “A missionary is someone commissioned by the church to fulfill a disciple-making mission outside the scope of the existing church.” (41) 


The author defines a missionary as anyone deliberately sent from the church to any of the four people groups: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or the rest of the world.  So they can commission groups to specifically attempt to reach any local or global group. 


“Before the information highway was ever thought of, the intercession highway was in full swing.” (46)


The missionary wanted to develop a personal relationship with one person or couple in each supporting church to be his communication link, mainly for prayer. (47)


“To the extent that churches turn inward they become spiritually dysfunctional to one degree or another.” (54)


“Until now he [the pastor] had been concerned about getting the people of the world into the church, but had shown little or no concern about getting the people of the church into the world.” (56)


Churches have shifted just about everything concerning missions into the hands of mission agencies.”  “Not very many churches realize that they can, under God, develop plans in global mission that will allow them to recapture some initiative.”  “When churches become content to shift all their responsibilities onto the mission agencies, the agencies easily become autonomous, trying to play the role both of the church and an administrative institution.” (58)


“The accountability of the missionary to the church is basically spiritual.  However, the church releases the missionary to a missionary agency, which is an organization.  You might say the church delegates organizational accountability of the missionary to the agency.”   “The mission agency has an administrative responsibility to the missionary, whereas the church’s role is primarily to provide a shepherding ministry.” (60)


“The potential of a church is not measured by the number of people who come to the worship, or by its program, or by its building.  It is measured by its vision.” (64)


“To have a global vision means seeing that we should have a simultaneous witness to each of these people groups (Jerusalem – those we can reach without leaving home, Judea – those who live further away, Samaritans – people of other cultures among us, and Ends of the earth.)  (65)


“The church as a whole has a mission, to make disciples of all nations.”  Missions represent whatever we do to fulfill our mission.” (66)


The missionary is like a staff member of the church on assignment in another part of the work.  “That means that you are really doing our work.” The church can assume ownership of the ministry.  (72)


As their missionary, John’s new vision was helping the church begin to see new potential in their people. (75)


They agreed that their global mission team must not function like a committee.  Members would be handpicked to fulfill specific responsibilities.  They would have to show commitment and competence as well as good relationships in the church.  “The team would play the primary role in integrating the spirit of mission into the church as a whole.  Then they would mobilize the people for the role each would play.” (78)


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The last section of the book is a manual for teaching or implementation covering the primary points of the book with introductory material and a fill-in-the blank outline. 


Summary: “Mission is not what the church does for the missionary, but what the church does through the missionary.”



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