From time to time, I hear LifePoint Church described as a “missions church” or a church with a “missions emphasis” because we devote a portion of our resources, time and attention to supporting and encouraging the church in India. While this would not necessarily be a negative description of us, I don’t think it is completely accurate. Here’s why:
First of all, I don’t believe that Jesus makes a distinction in terms of importance or priority when it comes to God’s mission locally, regionally or globally. It’s not “them” or “us” — it’s all of us. Reading the Great Commission at the end of Matthew 28 (and restated in Acts 1:8), it’s clear that the mission Jesus sent His followers on was not to be limited to their current location.
Second, while it may not be practical for every believer (or every church for that matter) to go everywhere physically and assume full responsibility for a worldwide commission, it just makes sense that as followers of Jesus become more like Jesus (who died for the whole world), we would develop some similar kind of concern for the whole world. We can give, we can go and, at minimum, we should pray.
We should pray with an informed mind because we are regularly aware of the current needs throughout God’s entire world. Just like earthly children come to care about things that are important to their parents, so all of God’s children reflect the heart of their Heavenly Father — especially in terms of the last, the lost and the “least of these” (Matthew 25:45).
Third, we’ve drawn boundaries between peoples, cultures, languages and nations. God has not. There’s no distinction in terms of priority with Him. “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son …” (John 3:16).
His mission to save the world is the same today. In fact, today it is easier to participate and help out than ever before. I’m convinced that because we can, we must. This assertion arises from my understanding of a biblical worldview, which every follower of Jesus should embrace. Basically, a follower of Jesus with a biblical worldview puts into practice the truth of God’s Word, has a burden for God’s world and assumes personal responsibility for God’s work that remains.
Fourth, only a small portion of our total income is deployed to the church and mission abroad. It might be helpful as you think about LifePoint to know that less than 10 percent of all the money we receive is committed to work in places like India. The other 90 percent is committed to help us as we care for our own fellowship, and do God’s mission in our own area. I believe that there is yet some room to increase our support to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) without compromising our determination to reach our own neighborhoods with the love of Jesus.
Fifth, the simple urgency of the task and the knowledge of eternity compels us to develop a strategy that addresses not only the people that are around us but also the people that we don’t see. I know you’d agree that just because something or someone is not right in front of us doesn’t mean that the object or person is not important to us. Although we rarely see girls enslaved to prostitution, it’s not OK for us as followers of Jesus to ignore the issue of modern day slavery.
Every day, people enter into a Christless eternity; every moment, people pass on from this life into a horrible place called hell. Every dollar we allocate, every prayer we pray, every trip we take — especially if connected to our desire to influence people toward Jesus — is important and worth it, no matter where we focus: India, Africa, Seattle, Snohomish County, Lake Stevens or Everett.
So maybe we’re not a “missions church,” but we’re certainly trying to be a church on God’s mission.
Eric Spangler is the lead pastor of LifePoint Church in Lake Stevens and Everett, Wash., and a member of the Free Methodist Church – USA Board of Administration.
DISCUSSION: Are you and your local church giving, going and/or praying?  What would happen if all Christians prayed and supported ministry at both the local and global level? 0