There is little doubt among cross-cultural workers that the focus of the church in the United States is changing, or has already changed, from global outreach to more inward facing priorities. Most have not given up the global focus completely, but have prioritized local needs and ministries, including committing a large amount of money to short-term trips, above money given for longer-term, resident mission workers. There are certainly many needs locally and we would not want to say that a focus on the community where the church is located should be abandon. The church exists to have impact in its “Jerusalem.” It also exists to have impact in its “Judea” and “Samaria” and the “ends of the earth.”
Our friends at GlobalCAST Resources (www.globalcastresources.com) put up a great video introducing this idea on Vimeo. Watch it here. We would like to piggyback off those thoughts and throw out five steps we can take, as people and as agencies, to help change the worldview of the church in the U. S.
Step One. Pray. We spend a lot of our time focusing our prayer to the globe as kingdom workers. There is a great need to focus our prayer at home as well. Our church leaders need prayer. Our church mission committees need prayer. Our neighbors who sit in front of, or behind, us in church need prayer. Discernment of God’s leading in the areas of praying, giving and going/sending should be one of the things we pray for regarding them, and ourselves! We believe God answers prayer when we pray for more harvesters or some other global need. We should also believe that God can move the hearts of his people back toward the global harvest.
Step Two. Be Active. Change can only begin in one place…with us. If we hope to see the worldview at our home church changed, we need to be part of that change. Get involved. Be part of the sending group at your church. Speak up for what you think should matter. Be an activist (a graceful one) for a more complete understanding of the Great Commission in your body of believers. Meet with pastors. Correspond with missionaries. Be a good financial supporter of your church and its work. Volunteer. In short, make your home fellowship part of your global ministry focus.
Step Three. Partner. We would direct this step mostly to agencies. Agencies need to be good partners with the local church. If we are honest, the church (body of Christ) is the hand of Christ on earth, not para-church organizations. We exist to facilitate the role of the church in the world. The church sends. We assist and partner with the church to provide logistical support, oversight, care, community, encouragement, resources and opportunity in the countries of service. We are all on the same team working toward the same goal; to see the kingdom fill the whole earth!
Step Four. Get leadership Involved. We have watched churches in the U.S. go from totally uninvolved in global work to furiously involved after just one thing happens; the senior pastor goes on a vision trip to visit missionaries their church supports. There is nothing better than personal experience to help set vision in our minds. Encourage your church leaders to be personally involved in the mission of the church around the world. Offer to help fund their trip. Recommend some locations and ministries they should consider. Go with them and show them what you have seen and are impacted by. Congregations follow where their pastor leads them, generally. Help your pastor see the world like you do!
Step Five. Serve. This step applies to both individuals and agencies. As we are servants of the church around the world in missions, we should also be servants of the church at home. Find out where the needs of the church are and network resources to meet those needs. Give service to the church and serve with the church. Everyone appreciates those who come alongside them, to help them. Be that person.
In summary, if we want to see the worldview of the church in the United States change, our worldview needs to change as well. Where we have been mostly outward focused, we need to turn some of our energy inward and meet the church where it is, serving it, and praying fervently for it. We might say, we have identified the problem and it is us! As our worldview changes, we believe the worldview of the church will also change. God is faithful and he is directing the show. Let’s play our parts well and be encouragers of everyone else in the cast!!