What part does God expect First Baptist Jackson to play in fulfilling the Great Commission? We know that Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples. We are aware that our church is a missional congregation, with a history of sending missionaries and supporting mission work. But what does it mean for us to do our part now, in these early years of the 21st Century?
We can begin to get a picture of what we should do by identifying the major non-Christian faith groups around the world. There are at least eight clusters of people groups, each totaling 200 million people or more, that have their own view of God and what it takes to please Him. We call these faith groups. Some have names we recognize, like Muslim or Buddhist. Others are less well-known, like African Traditional Religion. Because of their unique perspectives on God, each faith group will require a different approach if the people in it will ever understand the true God.
Of course, we will not be able to engage these faith groups on our own. Our resources are considerable at FBJ, but we will still need partners around the world, people who know Christ and who understand how to best present Him to those in their area who have not yet experienced His grace. So our next step in finding our place in God’s great Mission is identifying partners. Some of these will be missionaries, some will be local believers. All will share our heart for making disciples, for seeing people come to faith and grow to maturity.
GO & ENGAGE
We will also need to identify exactly where God wants us to go and engage the faith groups. Some locations will be obvious, like the cities where we have members from FBJ serving as missionaries. But I think some of the places God sends us to engage the faith groups will surprise us, much like Philip was probably surprised when instructed to leave the ongoing revival in Samaria and go to Gaza, in the middle of the desert. God knows the best places, though, so we will go where He sends.
In order to maximize our effectiveness when we go, we will need to determine the best tools for making disciples among a particular faith group. It is amazing how many ways there are to make contact with people, to share the Gospel, and to disciple those who believe. The principles of disciple-making are universal, but the tools that work best in a given context vary incredibly. We will need to find what works best in each faith group and train our people accordingly.
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