Turning Toward Mission, Step One

Photo Credit: Lel4nd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lel4nd via Compfight cc

Last week I wrote about the need for churches to turn outward and amplify the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also promised practical steps for making your church systems a megaphone for making disciples. We are all seeking effective approaches. Everyone is seeking the steps that will lead to success. I am always reluctant simply to give a pragmatic answer. The books, articles, seminars–and blogs–offering the step-by-step approach are legion. But no matter what system or steps one chooses to implement, I believe true missional realignment in ministry or in your personal life comes from two key ingredients. The first is spiritual renewal. The second is disciplined, hard work. I want to focus on step one.

Whether you are a pastor seeking to implement missional change in your church or an individual disciple of Jesus who knows you need to have a more outward focus in life, the first step is an issue of the heart. Changing behaviors is important, but without a change of heart, little will be seen of lasting transformation. Getting involved in the mission of God only takes place out of the overflow of a love for God and understanding of his heart. We discover the heart of God and become united with God around his mission through the study of his Word and prayer. Spiritual depth leads to missional breadth. My friend and colleague, Cris Alley, shared with me his adaptation of a prayer chain developed by author Neil Cole. It combines Bible study and prayer in order to turn our heart towards God’s mission to save the lost. I have added a passage to the end that is personally important to my calling. I want to pass this practical tool on to aid you in taking a step toward mission.

Here is the challenge: Read each passage of Scripture and then personalize that Scripture as a prayer. Pray first that you would begin to embody the truth in the passage and then for those you know who are lost. List them by name. Perhaps you are praying for an unreached people group somewhere in the world.Where it fits, insert their name into the verse as a prayer.  I have listed these verses in the front of my journal and underlined them in my study Bible:

Matthew 22:37-40
Matthew 28:18-20
Acts 6:4
Acts 1:8
Revelation 5:9
John 6:44
Acts 17:27
1 Thessalonians 2:13
2 Corinthians 4:4
2 Timothy 2:24-26
John 16:7-15
Matthew 9:36-38
Colossians 4:2-6
Ephesians 6:18-20
Acts 17:30-31
2 Timothy 2:2
John 20:21 (a prayer of commissioning, to leave the prayer closet and live “sent” by Jesus into the world on his mission)

You can also use this prayer chain in a group of people. Praying with other believers encourages us, stretches us, and grows us.This kind of praying will take time. Do not rush this process. (Remember step two, above, is disciplined, hard work!) Here is a guarantee: if you thoughtfully pray through the Scriptures above, over time, the Lord will transform your heart and the result will be movement toward mission.

So, will you take the first step? What other Bible passages do you pray to turn your heart toward the mission of Jesus?