How to Think Beyond Local Ministry

It's time to think beyond simply local evangelism.
It's time to think beyond simply local evangelism. (Lightstock )

God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world.

John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world ..." From the beginning he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, "From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him." (Acts 17:26)

Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multi-national. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast foods.

Probably most of the clothes you're wearing, and much of what you ate today was produced in another country. We're more connected than we realize, especially with the advent of social media.

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These are exciting days to be alive. There are more Christians on earth right now that ever before. Paul was right: "This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours ..." (Colossians 1:16).

The first way to start thinking globally is to begin praying for specific countries. World-class Christians pray for the world. Get a globe or map and pray for nations by name. The Bible says, "If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours" (Psalm 2:8).

Prayer is the most important tool for your mission in the world. People may refuse our love, or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. Like intercontinental missiles, you can aim a prayer at a person's heart whether you're ten feet or 10,000 miles away.

What should you pray for? The Bible tells us to pray for opportunities to witness, for courage to speak up, for those who will believe, for the rapid spread of the message, and for more workers. Prayer can do what God can do, and it makes you a partner with others around the world.

You should also pray for missionaries and everyone else involved in the global harvest. Paul told his prayer partners, "You are also joining to help us when you pray for us" (2 Corinthians 1:11).

Another way to develop global thinking is to read and watch the news with "Great Commission Eyes." Wherever there is change or conflict, you can be sure that God will use it to bring people to him. People are most receptive to God when they are under tension or in transition. Because the rate of change is increasing in our world, more people are open to hearing the good news now than ever before.

As God told Habakkuk, "Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it" (Habakkuk 1:5).

The best way to switch to global thinking is to just get up and go on a short-term mission project to another country. There's simply no substitute for hands-on, real life experience in another culture. Quit studying and discussing your mission and just do it! I dare you to dive into the deep end.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus gave us a pattern for involvement: "... you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world." His followers were to reach out to their community (Jerusalem), to their country (Judea), to other cultures (Samaria) and to other nations (everywhere in the world). Note that our commission is simultaneous, not sequential. While not everyone has the missionary gift, every Christian is called to be on mission to all four groups in some way.

Set a goal to participate in a mission project to each of these four targets. I urge you to save and do whatever it takes to participate in a short-term mission trip overseas as soon as possible. It will enlarge your heart, expand your vision, stretch your faith, deepen your compassion, and fill you with a kind of joy you've never experienced. It could be the turning point in your life.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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