Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Carl Tuttle on Missions

Decided I'd respond to this question in a separate post:

John Barnes asks, "Here's another one for you to chew on Carl Tuttle, where exactly is the mission field, going on a missions trip, missions ministry. Have at it!"

OK John and others - here are some thoughts on that: First of all, we live in a country in which most evangelical churches have adopted or gravitated towards a consumer-driven 'attractional' approach (in other words 'if you build it, produce it, provide it...they will come.') And I can't say that it doesn't work. What I do think I can safely say, is it doesn't produce disciples - the very thing we are commissioned to do. Therefore, in the vast majority of these churches...we are lucky if 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I won't say that people don't come to Christ through this avenue...they do. What I will say is that we certainly are not producing disciples. Jesus said to 'make disciples' 'teaching them to obey'. A disciple is not one who serves various ministries of a church, occupied with responsibilities and activity. A disciple is not someone who has bought into the pastor's or church's vision. A disciple is one who has encountered the living Christ, died to self and now live and orders their life around the purposes and plan of God. One whose time, money, body, energy, thoughts and attitudes are owned by Jesus. Disciples seek to imitate Christ and walk in love as ones who are dearly loved. Service within the community of faith, the Church, is based on serving others in the way He served us. He laid down his life.

Those who 'lead' in the Church are not meant to be served, but are to serve the community. Teaching, pastoring (caring for) maturing the gathered community. That includes not doing everything and letting others watch, but It means enfolding others in service by bringing them along side, modeling for them, equipping and releasing others to do 'the work of the ministry'.
How that relates to missions, the mission, doing the work of a missionary? It's the foundation upon which we build - it's the launching pad. It begins in first in our homes...then our neighborhoods, our places of work, our cities, other nations. But it flows from a relationship of submission to the priorities of the Kingdom and an eternal perspective. Again it's who we are not what we do.

Activity does not equal ministry. Wimber used to say, "we're an army not an audience" - and for the first several years of the church - I'd say as long as 20 years - he made no room for anything else. He would say commitment to Christ equaled commitment to His Church and His cause.

A little story: For years we met in temporary facilities. We rolled out carpet, set up chairs, the sound, the stage, the whole thing. We did that for a couple thousand people for years. We had arrive early in the morning and begin by rolling out carpet to protect the gymnasium floor. The chair were stored about 100 yards from the building. Every Sunday morning John and Carol Wimber would be there engaged in the process. I remember John rolling racks of chairs up the hill to the gymnasium, sweating profusely. We had bleachers that were pulled out for some of the seating and Carol would wipe down all of the seating areas. All that to say, that during all that time - they continued to see their role as serving God's people. Even after he became 'John Wimber'. They always saw themselves as having given up ownership of their lives the day they met Christ.

John would say, 'there's no magic in a plane ride' - meaning if you're not doing it where you live, what makes you think you're going to do it somewhere else.

It's just my opinion, but I think we have developed too many models of and for ministry that don't reflect the values of the Kingdom. Everything flows from loving God with our whole heart and others as ourselves. A devoted follower of Jesus doesn't need to be motivated or convinced to's just what a devoted follower of Jesus does. I sometimes wonder how many people would flee from the Church if we began 'teaching them to obey all he has commanded' - in place of trying to figure out what people like, want or desire? Let me repeat one thing: You don't have to motivate a devoted follower of Jesus! You don't have to convince them of their mission or purpose. It's not what they do, it's who they are.

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