EQUIPPING FOR MISSIONS
Daniel W. Bacon
OMF, 1992, 219 pp. ISBN 1-929122-20-9
Dan Bacon was a church-planting missionary in Japan for 10 years. He currently serves as the International Director for Mobilization for OMF International. This book is an excellent introduction for anyone considering the possibility of serving as an overseas missionary. It is “a road map to help you grow in your commitment to global missions and find concrete ways to explore options, make wise choices and discern your potential contribution.” (23) Throughout, it includes opportunities for study and application of appropriate Bible passages, reflection and response.
Chap 1. Aligning your life with the purpose of God (Biblical overview)
“The critical question we need to ask is, ‘What is the purpose or plan of God and is my life aligned with that?’” (6)
“It doesn’t take long in reading Scripture to discover that God is a missionary God and that the Bible is a missionary book. From Genesis to Revelation we see a God who is seeking his lost creation.” (7)
“The first eleven chapters of Genesis are foundational to understanding the rest of the Bible. Here the stage is set for God’s dealings with mankind. Man is created in the image of God, and his main role is to glorify God by exercising God’s dominion over this planet (Gen. 1:27-28). However, man rebels against God’s rule over him, and this results in spiritual and physical death entering the world and the human race (see Rom. 5:12). The good news is that God didn’t abandon man or leave him to suffer the eternal consequences of his rebellion. The rest of the Bible is the story of God’s reconciliation of alienated man and the outworking of his redemptive purpose.” (8)
“Instead of being sent on a missionary journey, Israel was to attract other nations by her godly and righteous living.” “The Old Testament not only contains missions but is missions.” (11)
“God gives the very best to those who leave the choice with him.” (18, quoting Hudson Taylor)
“The New Testament makes it clear that the Great Commission is the responsibility of the whole church. In this sense all of us are called to missions, and the church itself is called to be a missionary church.” (19)
“Obviously our plans for missionary work in the future should be an outgrowth of our participation in the Great Commission now.” (19)
“Not every vocation is equally strategic in building the church worldwide.” (22)
Chap 2. Putting Things into Perspective (a brief history of Christian expansion)
Chap 3. Knowing the Game Plan (The missionary task and strategy)
“From a biblical perspective, however, the church may have many responsibilities but only one mission, and that is the evangelization and discipling of all nations.” (47)
The evangelistic mission of the church occurs in steps:
· Presence – influencing by the lifestyle of the believe in word, deed, and attitude
· Proclamation – preaching the good news of Christ
· Persuasion – seeking to bring a positive response
· Planting – gathering the new believers into congregations, a primary goal of evangelism
· Propagation – planting churches that will plant other churches and spread the gospel to their own people and beyond (50-51)
Definition of a people group. “From the viewpoint of evangelization, a people group is the largest group within which the gospel can spread as a church-planting movement without encountering barriers of acceptance and understanding.” (52)
Chap 4. Sensing the Scene (the status of Christianity in the world, progress, needs and issues)
“Asia is the world’s most unreached continent. It holds over half the world’s population, yet less than five percent are even nominally Christian!” Christianity is the number one religion in 5 continents, but it is 6th in Asia! (64)
The best resource tool for knowing what is happening in the world is Operation World by Patrick Johnstone. (65)
The highest priority for missions today is cross-cultural evangelism to the truly unreached people groups of the world. (68, citing Ralph Winter)
Chap 5. Understanding the Local Church, Missions, and You (the church’s sending role)
“Missionaries shouldn’t just go, but be sent.” (80)
“The ultimate authority for sending is Christ (Matt.28:19), but the local or home church becomes the mediating authority through which the call may be confirmed to you.” (83) “The so-called missionary call is best recognized and nurtured in a congregation.” (84) Your church can give you the right kind of counsel about your suitability and giftedness, help you get the best equipping for ministry, take ownership of your decisions, and stand behind you in support. (86)
“A coach does not build a football team by volunteers. He selects the best players available.” (86)
“Because most local churches aren’t in a position to operate their own mission work directly, they work through agencies. As a result, the agency can be seen as the implementing authority in the chain.” (88)
Chap 6. Developing a Personal Strategy for Missions Involvement (includes steps, checklists, needs)
You can assess how far along you are and next steps by the excellent questions about personal activities, missions awareness, church relationship, and training and experience, p. 100-101.
Chap 7. Deciding if You Should Stay or Go (understanding the “missionary call” and your suitability)
Factors bearing on suitability
1. Spiritual gifts
2. Interpersonal skills
3. Communication skills
4. Spiritual maturity and experience
5. Training and preparation (118-122)
How ‘delicate’ or ‘hardy’ are you? The Hardy Personality Rating on pp. 124-125 is particularly useful.
“The Great Commission was given to the whole church and not just to an elite few. Not everyone can or should go, but all of us need to somehow partner in the Great Commission process as a sender.” (129)
Stages in Becoming a Global Christian
1. Initial exposure
2. Biblical and global awareness
3. Vision of what can be done
4. General commitment to do something
5. Specific commitment to a particular ministry
6. Strategic involvement (go, send, mobilize) (13)
Chap 8. Praying for Missions – The Best Place to Begin
“Prayer for missions is God’s way of giving us opportunities to join a ministry team—to become part of what he is doing through the work of another.” “We can multiply and extend our ministries worldwide by praying!” (135)
“Do not expect God to do, apart from prayer, what he has said he would do only if we pray.” (139, quoting Arnold Geswein)
“If you’re not yet convinced that God hears and answers prayer at home, don’t expect to believe it on the field.” (139)
Chap 9. Finding the Right Track
Chap 10. Finding the Right Mission Agency (It’s a little bit like a marriage.)
Suggestion: Contact three mission agencies. Make a file for each and evaluate each in regard to their strategy, structure, ethos, financial policy, personnel policy, relationships with national churches, relationships with home churches, doctrinal emphases. (Note: Follow your local church’s guidance.)
Chap 11. Training and Preparation for Missions
Some categories for development:
1. Development as a person and a disciple
2. Development of ministry skills and spiritual gifts
3. Biblical, theological, and missiological education
4. Exposure to other cultures
5. Development of relational and communication skills
Are you a likely candidate for doing church planting? Try the skills quiz on pp. 194-96. You might be surprised.
Chap 12. Keeping a World Vision
How do you keep the vision alive? Suggested steps:
1. Pray daily for mission concerns.
2. Read one or more books about world missions.
3. Support a missionary financially or share in a missions project.
4. Stay available.
5. Investigate what’s happening.
6. Keep involved.
7. Consult godly leadership.
8. Prepare for what’s ahead.
9. Pray for guidance.
10. Make application when the time is right.
11. Be commissioned by your church. (208-212)
“It is not a question of whether or not I should participate in the Great Commission, but how and where.” (212)