Today the term "mobilization" is in vogue and helpfully describes the sending process in all of its aspects. It is encouraging to see churches recognizing that not only should so-called "front-line missionaries" be supported, but also those who are set apart to help mobilize the resources for the task. Whether we call these mobilization specialists "resource advocates," or mission representatives, it is important that we see them as all part of the sending process.
But what is involved in the sending process? One way to look at it is to start from the goal and look back at the required or necessary critical success factors to reach it. The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:14-15 outlines the sending process by starting from the strategic objective (outcome) and outlining the action steps or critical success factors along the way to the goal.
So what then is involved? Let me briefly examine the process:
- The end result of the sending process is simply that people will have an opportunity to "call on the name of the Lord" who alone can save them from the penalty and power of sin. This call to Jesus as Lord (10:9; 10:13) must come from personal conviction as an individual act of repentance and faith.
- Responding to gospel content, people must believe. There is no gospel without giving men and women something to believe. In order to believe we must be able to hear a message. The gospel needs to be preached (orally or in written form). While Christian presence and good works are important, proclamation is essential. God uses living messengers in the process. Preachers or proclaimers are critical. Visions, dreams even miracles may help prepare people, but alone cannot save. Messengers won't show up where they are needed, unless they are sent.
- The sending process then, is the God-given task of the church. Missions mobilization is all about enabling the unreached of our world to be able to "call on the name of the Lord."
- Let's go back to Matthew 10 for just a minute and remind ourselves as to what should be characteristic of the senders and the sent in the mobilization task. Jesus reminds us:To be sent means first to be called (10:1). "Call" is a word that we use or abuse in mission circles. But what is involved in being called? We are reminded first of all that Jesus called his disciples "that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach."
- Regardless of what we think of the so-called "missionary call," it is imperative that we send people who have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Both the senders as well as the goers need to be linked closely to the Lord of the Harvest or we'll end up sending ill-equipped and unprepared people.
- Mobilization can become simply an exciting program unless we stay bonded to our Lord.Jesus called each of his disciples personally to be a part of the apostolic team. The call to ministry or mission is very personal, and in our rush to get numbers to the field, we need to make sure that we send those who have a deep conviction that they are being sent by God, not just their peers.Keep in mind too that people are called in answer to prayer. There is much we must do besides prayer but nothing we can do without prayer.
- Labor shortages for the Harvest may have many causes, including poor "marketing" or recruitment efforts. However, without prayer, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 9:38, we will not get the right workers to meet the needs.
- We are called in response to needs. In Matthew 9:36-37 Jesus saw the crowds as harassed and helpless; like sheep without a shepherd. The scribes, Pharisees and priests should have helped, but failed because they lacked compassion. What they lacked, we may lack as well if we are not careful. Those whom we are sending out, need to see the world through the eyes of the Saviour, and respond not just to physical needs, but to the spiritual needs of people that only a right relationship with Jesus can meet.
- There is no higher calling than to participate in the sending process either as a sent one or a sending one. In our day of increasing technical sophistication in mobilization business, we need to heed afresh both the biblical ends as well as the means. It is only then that we truly partner with the Lord of the Harvest in His sending business.