Just one week ago the 2019 G3 Conference kicked-off in Atlanta. As we look back at the conference, I’m reminded of God’s goodness to us for an opportunity to gather with 4,600 brothers and sisters in Christ for three days of singing, preaching, and fellowship in the gospel of King Jesus. We had in the room people from every state in the United States plus a minimum of 12 different nations. Watching online was a massive number of people from 30 nations—estimated at 225,000 people over the weekend.
This year, the focus was missions. How do we connect the dots from the mission field to the local church. As each sermon was preached, it was clear that God was making a statement from his Word in regard to missions. If I had to put a review into one succinct sentence, I think I would say the 2019 G3 Conference communicated the following:
Missions is the work of local churches who disciple, train, and commission elder qualified missionaries to the nations with the good news of Jesus with absolute confidence that God will accomplish his mission for his glory.
Local Church Emphasis
Missions is not the work of parachurch ministries. Missions is the work of the local church who may use parachurch ministries to accomplish their work. However, the point of emphasis throughout the 2019 G3 was that local churches bear this responsibility and must engage in the work of missions for the glory of God.
With this in mind, we had several pastors preach in the G3 Conference. Some people asked why we didn’t have more missionaries preaching, and that’s a good question, but the point is that God uses pastors to disciples, train, equip, and eventually commission out from their local church specific missionaries for the work of getting the good news of Jesus to the nations.
We must never overlook the local church and under estimate the labor of faithful pastors in the work of missions. From the very beginning of the missionary work with Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13 to the land of Scotland where John Paton was discipled—missionaries are sent out from local churches with the message of reconciliation—the hope of the nations. Through the entire process, the local church in Antioch was involved and received reports from the missionaries regarding their work. This is essential as we consider the work of missions and the authority of the local church. This equation will not support rogue missionaries roaming the hills of foreign countries with a backpack and a blog site used to give reports and ask for financial support.
Elder Qualified Missionaries
One key point of the 2019 G3 Conference that surfaced in the Q&A and in a couple of the sermons was that the missionaries we send out to the field need to be elder qualified missionaries. This position is based on textual evidence (see Phil. 2:25 and 2 Cor. 8:23 and note the word “ἀπόστολος” translated messenger) and supported by plain logic. If the work of missions is not merely roaming through jungle trails and telling people the good news by handing out gospel tracts and if the mission of God involves the work of planting biblical churches among the nations, we must be sending out elder qualified candidates to engage in this work.
How should women engage in this work if they’re not called to be elders? First of all, women for the most part will find themselves supporting their husbands on the mission field as they seek to plant healthy and biblical churches that will multiply and continue the mission of God. At times, a woman with the gift of singleness will find herself desiring to engage in specific mission work where she will move to a specific country, join a local church, and engage in the discipleship of women, children, and perhaps some mercy ministry opportunities through their local church.
In other circumstances, young women who desire to train for missions will spend time on the field under the supervision of seasoned missionaries while under the authority of a specific sending church. Unless she has the gift of singleness, she will need to be under the leadership of her husband in due season, so this can be a bridge opportunity that may not lead to full-time missionary work or it may in God’s providence lead in that direction, but God is in control of that process from start to finish.
During the 2019 G3 on missions, the point was made that we can’t view missionaries as those who couldn’t cut it in the pulpit in America, so we ship them off to the nations to engage in missions. Antioch sent out Paul, and he wasn’t a guy who couldn’t cut it in the work of gospel ministry. There must be a clear connection between missionary, elders, and the local church.
Sovereignty of God
As we consider the fact that the world is vastly unreached with the gospel (41.5% according to JoshuaProject.net), how will you invest your time, talent, and treasure through your local church in order to reach the nations with the gospel? No matter how small your church is, everyone has a part in this process and we can all engage in the work of missions. Consider the fact that our local churches need to be praying, sending, and going to the nations for the glory of God.
The mission of God is the message of Jesus and that message of reconciliation is sent out from local churches to the nations. We must pray, send, and go with unshakable confidence that God will accomplish his mission through persecution, trial, disease, death, betrayal, sickness, hardship, and pain. God will accomplish his mission on the good days and bad days—in seasons of mountain top joys and valley pains. God will accomplish his mission for his eternal glory!
Let the nations be glad (Psalm 67).