By Ryan McCreery, Associate Pastor of Ministry Development

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Missio Nexus Mission Leaders Conference in Florida. Two mission leaders from Fellowship joined me.  Admittedly, we did not know what to expect, but attended with two simple objectives.  We wanted to ensure we were on the right track providing care for missionaries of Fellowship, and we wanted to better understand how to be more globally engaged as a church.

This three-day conference provided a full schedule of passionate speakers, lively worship services, informative breakout sessions, and numerous networking opportunities.  900 mission leaders from around the world were in attendance, giving us an unprecedented insight.  By the end of the conference, our objectives were met, and our expectations were exceeded.  We learned what it would look like to become a more globally engaged church, developing long-term partnerships with missionaries and sending organizations as well as planning strategies for effective short-term missions.

Since I could not take all of you reading this blog with me to the conference, I want to share my greatest take-away from it that has revolutionized my thinking about discipleship.  Engaging in missions is a necessity to maturing in Christ.

You see, I am passionate about coming alongside believers intentionally and relationally helping them to grow in their faith in Jesus and to reach out to others with the gospel in everyday life.  However, before this conference, I honestly could not concisely connect the process of discipleship to missions.  (And when I say “missions”, I mean supporting sent missionaries who cross barriers such as distance, culture, or language with the intent to share the gospel for the sake of evangelism and discipleship.)  Maturity in Christ is always the goal of discipleship, but missions seemed optional.  That is, before the conference.

Then, sitting in one of the main sessions, the speaker emphasized the phrase “of all nations”  from the Great Commission.  His point was that Jesus came not only to reach you and me with the gospel, but then through us to reach the world for Christ.

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20

This emphasis, “of all nations”, helped me to see the Great Commission more clearly, and more distinctively as a Christian.  Not only are we to be about making and maturing disciples at Fellowship, but also to ensure that our discipleship process includes “of all nations”.  Our collective ministry efforts should result in more mature believers, reaching the lost with the gospel, and reaching the unreached around the world for Jesus Christ.

Now having returned, this clearer understanding has given me (and the mission leaders who attended the conference with me) greater insight how to integrate missions with all other discipleship ministries.  One step we took earlier this year was launching a Missionary Care Team.  This team has already taken big steps to defining and providing comprehensive care for our church’s missionaries.  Next year, we are excited for the ideas we have to create greater awareness about missions and opportunities to get involved at Fellowship.

How then can you engage in missions at Fellowship, going forward?

First, you can engage prayerfully.  Staying current with our church’s missionaries helps you to know what they do and how you can best pray for them on a consistent basis.

Second, you can engage financially.  Committing to financially support missions is one investment sure to have an eternal impact in God’s economy.

Third, you can engage personally.  Serving on our Missionary Care Team or joining a short-term mission trip is an excellent way to get up close and personal with what God is doing globally.

As maturing Christians, we have been called to make disciples as we follow Jesus.  This includes those in our home, our church, our neighborhoods, our city, and throughout our country.  Likewise, we are called to join the global church movement taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.  Let’s engage the world together maturing as Christ-centered believers, reaching the lost with the gospel, as well as partnering with missionaries to make disciples of all nations for the glory of God.