Making disciples, loving those in need, furthering His work in the world…So now we know what He wants, but can we give it to Him? Can I offer my life up to disciple the nations and serve those in need? Is there enough money to send me out to make disciples and work on the front lines if I say yes? I talk a lot about getting on board with God’s projects. But have you ever listened to the way that the church sometimes talks about accomplishing God’s project of discipling the nations in terms of “lack.”
- “We don’t have enough senders for missionaries.”
- “We don’t have enough people called to missions.”
- “We don’t have enough money for missions.”
- “We don’t have enough mature believers ready to make disciples in the nations.”
- “We don’t have enough skill to disciple the nations.”
But here is the truth…God is responsible for providing for His projects. I’m not the first to decide to operate on this basis. Hudson Taylor and George Muller are two famous workers who said such “wild” things. But why then do I keep running into “poverty talk” in the Kingdom of God, especially in global missions? This should not be! Now, I am not talking about promoting “name it/claim it” theology. I’m not talking about wanting “abundance” that buys a fancy car or jet. I’m talking about faith to believe that God pays for His work in the world and will bless you with provision and joy when you walk in His way, both here and in heaven (Luke 18:29-30). We should be flowing our resources out to an abundant group of global workers who are pouring those resources into an abundance of kingdom projects helping meet the needs of the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the refugee, the immigrant, the widow, the orphan, and unreached, raising up an abundance of new disciples of Jesus. So what are the reasons for this apparent poverty of resources, workers, and new disciples? We have traded truth for a lie.
Lie #1: There’s Not Enough Money for Missions because the Rich Aren’t Giving to Missions and to those in Need
Regarding the rich, I have actually found that rich Christians are very generous, not because they can be but because they choose it. They are actively looking for ways to give their money to the Kingdom and I am pretty convinced there is a special gift of business-mindedness given to some for the sake of advancing the Kingdom projects. And you will know them by their joy and generosity. There is not a smidge of stinginess in them. They stop you in your tracks as you are asking for support for the kingdom and they say, “just tell us what you need.” In fact, it is the middle class who the enemy has conned into thinking they “barely have enough to get by” that do not give generously, because they never have “enough.” If they have excess, they have been conditioned by fear to save it up and store it for a “rainy day.” But in this they disobey Jesus when He teaches, “do not store up for yourself money on earth, but store it in heaven.” In reality the middle class have way more than they need and they live very comfortably. It is the level of comfort they wish to maintain that creates the sense of financial “tightness.” I know this because I used to live this way.
Even the poor give more generously than the middle class because they know what it is like to be in real need and they know the real faithfulness of God. The middle class have bought into the American lie that you will only receive what you can earn. And that is just not true, certainly not in the Kingdom of God. You receive by grace and usually in the measure you give. And even more! Generosity feeds hospitality and mutuality and receiving and more giving! It’s even better with you give out of your lack–that’s powerful stuff. Bust this myth by recognizing the lies the enemy might be telling you about your lack and start giving to the Kingdom out of both your abundance AND lack.
There is more than enough money. Everything actually belongs to the Lord, I have seen Him provide in the most dire situations by “moving His resources around.” Enter the Kingdom by faith and obedience. He LOVES to provide for those who seek the Kingdom first, serving the needy and making disciples of the nations.
Truth: God is never in lack. ALL people who have truly died to themselves and have surrendered to God support missions, either by going or sending.
Lie #2: Most people aren’t called out to be missionaries. We should stay and take care of the problems in our own borders.
Well, if this is the case, then Jesus lied…because He clearly told His disciples to “GO…disciple the nations.” (Matthew 28:18ff) Are you a disciple of Jesus? Then you have access to His Spirit in you and that makes you a competent minister of the new covenant complete with the responsibility, permission, and privilege to make disciples out of the overflow of the love of God in your life!
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
And furthermore, the call has gone out from the time of Isaiah, it is the call of anyone who has truly heard the call of God saying, “Who will go. Who can I send? Who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8) If you have ever thought, even for a minute, that God was calling you to be a missionary, He probably was!
Just let that sink in a second.
The enemy would like for you to believe that was just hype or emotionalism you felt. But God gave you emotions so that you could connect to Him. (And this is for some of you, though I hope not many: please stop telling all our young people that God probably isn’t calling them either just to make yourself feel better…this will make you a blind guide). Instead, discern if your job placement in the Kingdom is to go participate in the general call to missions or if He genuinely intends you to stay and be a prophet to your own people, like Ezekiel (chapter 3). That is the exception for which you need a specific call.
Otherwise consider yourself called to go into the world and disciple the nations! Recognize that God WAS ACTUALLY calling you and go be a missionary at your job today, sharing the gospel as the Holy Spirit leads even if it gets you fired! Then go get another job! And go through all the cities and towns until all have heard (Matthew 10:23). Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.(2 Timothy 4:2)
And guess what…ALL nations need missionaries from other countries, even and especially Europe and North America. There’s something about being “sent” that increases our intentionality and urgency in sharing the good news of the Kingdom. My life has been dramatically enriched by worshiping with and being discipled by the foreigners in our borders. If you are a Christian, then you are a missionary.
Truth: Own it. You are a missionary and have been sent out to make disciples!
Lie #3 There’s not enough money for me to be a missionary
Of course you cannot afford to do missions! The whole point is that you will be sent! We, the church will send you. Even as a supported missionary, I support other missionaries and Kingdom projects because it’s not my money! God is funding what He is doing in the world. (Caveats may exist for projects that we dream up for God without Him.)
Case in point, we are building a support team and having to make big decisions about budget. All this is a joyful, but simultaneously terrifying process. Yesterday, I was driving through a town 20 minutes away and the Lord told me to turn around and go buy shoes for my daughter at Walmart. So I did. I was picking out a pair when a Walmart worker, who was a believer, whispered to me, “All these shoes are going on clearance for a dollar…And those other things in your cart…those are also going to be marked down. Here. I can put those things into the system so they ring up for you up front.” I walked out with new shoes and warm slippers for my whole family. For a dollar a pair. A worker is worth her wage and I experienced the delight of my Father in Bedford Walmart. In addition, I got to tell a cashier about God’s goodness (she was a believer too) and proceeded to celebrate with me the story of God’s provision for our family. God had His people placed there, in Walmart, to provide for me as I provided for others in the family of God. It’s the way of the kingdom. Once you get a taste for it, there’s no going back. Being a missionary is much less about what we do, and more about our way of being in the world. We are constantly listening to the Lord for how to extend the love, mercy, and gospel of Jesus to those we come into contact with and in the communities in which we live and work. We’re excited. Our job is the Kingdom, making disciples!
Now, for those whose student loans are keeping you back, I have a special message for you. That problem can be fixed as soon as you are willing to actually go and start raising support. Just tell people you need to pay off your student loans before you go and see what God does. But if you stay home “paying off your student loans” for 20 years, that’s 20 years you could have been on the field. Someone may pay your loans off! (Why? Because they’re paying for a worker to go, not paying for your life. They are investing in the kingdom. A worker is worth his wages.) Or you will have another solution that will allow you to work as you go.
Truth: You will be provided for or will have a way to work–and you will train yourself to be content in every situation, whether in abundance or lack. And you will be so joyful!
Lie #4 I’m a Christian but I need to get closer to God myself before I tell others about Jesus.
Wait. So you are telling me that you know there is a distance between you and God keeping you from serving Him and being filled with the Spirit and you have not dealt with it? If that is the case you probably need to pray with a friend who can help you diagnose the issue so you can repent. God has not left you. So move back into trust. God is not far from you and does not work on a sliding scale. Either you are pleasing to Him and walking according to the Spirit or you need to take care of business with the Lord, after which, you will be ACTUALLY free from sin and living a life of delight in God. The enemy only has a right to shame you if you continue in sin. No one who abides in Jesus keeps on sinning (1 John 3:6). Repent. Go and sin no more and come join the family business working on God’s projects. You are forgiven and are free to serve Jesus and make disciples because of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit making you a competent minister of the gospel! The enemy is an accuser of the brethren and a liar. Stand firm in your identity as a blood-bought child of the King.
Truth: You are forgiven and are free to serve Jesus and make disciples because of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit making you a competent minister of the gospel!
Lie #5: I don’t have any special gifts to offer the Kingdom of God so I am better off just “serving in the kitchen” (replace serving in the kitchen with any service position).
First, being a servant is not something you settle in to do out of a lack of confidence or shyness. Being a servant is the highest calling and is modeled by Christ, Himself. Second, real Christian servanthood is self-death, so your placement as a servant is to make the gospel known and as such, you still have the responsibility to share the gospel with your actual words, in addition to your actions! As a disciple of Jesus, His power has given you everything you need for life and godly living by the knowledge of Him who calls us by His great glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3).
Whether you’re a finance person, business person, mom, friend, artists, prophet, landscaper, soccer player, musician, there’s probably a placement on the front lines of global ministry and church planting that would utilize those practical skills and spiritual gifts. You can even use those “affinity groups” in any town worldwide to church plant! If you don’t know how, learn how! If God assigned you a task that requires skills, learn those skills, but don’t assume He will use them the way you think. Also, do not assume or let others falsely mislead you to believe that God has obviously assigned you a specific spiritual task in keeping with your natural skillset.
Even better news is that God loves to use us even in our places of weakness. That means that your heart and availability, not your resumé, determine your usability in the kingdom of God. God never wastes a ready and willing heart who is available and ready to go serve Him on the frontlines of the Kingdom.
Truth: You have what it takes to serve God in a powerful way, not by human power, strength, or will, but by the Holy Spirit helping you in walking as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), doing what the Father is saying and doing what He is doing and saying what He is saying (John 5:19; John 12:49).
So just so you read it all as the TRUTH that will set the world on fire:
- God is never in lack. ALL people who have truly died to themselves and have surrendered to God support missions, either by going or sending.
- Own it. You are a missionary and have been sent out to make disciples!
- You will be provided for-and you will train yourself to be content in every situation, whether in abundance or lack. And you will be so joyful!
- You are forgiven and are free to serve Jesus and make disciples because of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit making you a competent minister of the gospel!
- You have what it takes to serve God in a powerful way, not by power or might but by the Holy Spirit helping you in walking as Jesus walked, doing what He is doing and saying what He is saying.