You have heard this saying before, and there is some truth in it: In Jerusalem, missions was about movement. In America, missions is about business and enterprise.
I want to make a slight adjustment: In Jerusalem, missions was about simplicity (to know nothing but Christ; to preach Christ crucified). In America, missions is about complexity. And complexity often hinders church health and multiplication.
“But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deu 30:14, ESV).
Complexity is found in the One who spoke and the universe was created. Complexity is found in the mystery of the incarnation. Complexity is found in the substitutionary atoning sacrifice for our sins on the cross. Complexity is found in the resurrection from the dead. Complexity is found in our conversions. Complexity is found in both Jew and Gentile being baptized by the Holy Spirit. Complexity is found in the new heaven and the new earth.
Complexity is not found in the apostolic work of the church to do evangelism that results in new churches comprised of new Kingdom citizens.
Whenever the gospel arrives in a new context, it generally comes with simple preaching and demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Cor 2:1-5; 1 Thess 1:5). Over time, churches that were once very simple in their expressions become very complex in their organizations. While complexity is not necessarily a bad thing, it can easily cause generations who are born (and born again) into such complexity to think that such is necessary for healthy church life and ministry. . . and to believe that such is necessary for the multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches.
Church planting in many areas of the world’s post-Christianized contexts will require churches to return to an apostolic simplicity. Such is presently the case in the United States.
Part of our present challenge is that the Church exists in a state of complexity. Most of our churches can do little without countless hours of meetings and discussions. Whenever we decide to do something related to Kingdom advancement, we then have to print up T-shirts for everyone to wear–before we can do it.
We believe we can do little without large sums of money, all of J. D. Payne’s books, years of extensive training, and leaders who if not connected to the Church would easily be able to create Fortune 500 companies or become the next Prime Ministers of small countries.
The present state of the world is that there are over four billion people on the planet who have no relationship with Jesus, with over two billion of those who have never heard the name of Jesus. If our Lord’s last words to the Church were to make disciples of all nations, should not the Church be willing to make radical adjustments to matters that stand in the way of getting the gospel to these peoples and planting churches among them so that they may obey all that Jesus commanded?
In light of His simple command, we should be asking ourselves how complex are we making the planting of churches as the fields remain white for the harvest?
Sure, we may be laboring hard at such activity. Are we laboring wisely?
Missional stewardship drives us to ask such questions.
We are just scratching the surface of what needs to be done in the West. And we have been scratching for a long time. We have defined missions as something too complex for too long.
What needs to be done is something simple. . . biblically simple.
Call me idealistic, but our complex King has some very simple ways. . . . Now, if I can just find that mustard seed. . . .