What does your church really value? Do you value gathering and acquiring or do you value scattering and giving away? BMA Missions has five values in helping churches carry out the Great Commission: motivated by the mission of God, discipleship-based multiplication, local-church driven, indigenous missions and Holy Spirit-led risk. (Go to bmamissions.org and watch five short videos on these values.) What do these values require? Local congregations that are willing to take faith-filled risks in which they give themselves away. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Do we really believe that?
In Acts 11:27-30, the believers in Antioch were willing to do something more than talk about what they were going to do. They determined to provide relief for the brothers that lived in Judea. How is your church giving itself away to meet the needs of others? How are you demonstrating the love of Christ in a practical way, daily? The church at Antioch responded to a need. What needs are there in your community that you can meet? What faith-filled risks do you need to consider taking?
In John 6, a little boy was willing to take a risk. He gave up his small lunch of “fish sticks” and “tater tots” so that Jesus could feed the 5,000. There was a moment this boy was lunch-less. Whenever you are willing to give away something there is that moment of faith you must turn loose of it, and it can create anxiety and be quite painful. Through the years families have said goodbye to their loved ones as they stepped out in faith to move to the other side of the planet to be missionaries of the gospel of Christ. That requires trusting God, even when you feel like you have given away your lunch. You trust Him enough to provide the grace you need when you need it.
The church at Antioch first did something about meeting needs (Acts 11), then they sent someone (Acts 13), Barnabas and Saul. Do you value giving yourself away and being willing to take a faith-filled risk? Every New Testament church should be prayerfully seeking how they can multiply disciples, multiply leaders and multiply churches, but that will necessitate a willingness to give away through faith-filled risk.
It requires valuing your sending capacity more than you value your seating capacity.
How will you implement this Holy Spirit-led risk into your local church? Have you budgeted any finances for local missions, community events and ministries that bless the people in your community that do not attend your church? It is recommended that, when you look at your budget, you should never exceed 45-55% for all staff salaries. It is also recommended to never exceed 35-45% of your budget on building expenses whether that is rent, a lease or a mortgage. That could easily take up 80-90% of your budget.
What if you were willing to give it away, not because of the return or to grow the church but in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s direction? Prayerfully consider where you can find the funds to send relief to those in need, right where you live. Do the people around your church know that you love them and want to help them?
Where do you begin? David Reynolds of the Greenhouse Movement recommends that you determine your willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance by determining what you really value as a believer and as a church. You can measure your values through four tests:
• The test of contemplation. You know what you value by what you think about when no one else is around? Where does your mind wander the most? Mark Batterson, in Win the Day, says that some estimate that 80% of our thoughts every day are negative. He states, “You can’t let your inner critic, and we all have one, grab the mic and become the narrator.”
• The test of conversation. You know what you value, not only by what you think about but also by what you talk about. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses.” When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we will always point to Jesus, and we will be busy talking about how he can transform lives and how He can change your story and the stories of other people.
• The test of the calendar. What you value can be seen by how you spend your time. How much time do you spend serving and loving others? Many churches focus 90-95% of their time inwardly focused on the people they already have. What if you simply tried to become more outwardly focused 40-50% of the time? What would happen if you intentionally spent 4-5 hours a week loving those in your community who are far from God?
• The test of your checkbook. You know what your values are by how you spend your treasure. How could you increase what you give away in sending relief to those who really need it and need to experience the love of Christ in a practical way?
As a believer and a church, what are you thinking about and talking about? What are you spending your time doing, and how are you stewarding the resources with which He has entrusted you?
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”