Tag Archives: Kevin DeYoung

The Changing Tides of My Mission Mentality

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last blogged, and I think it’s time to resurrect my writing life. Subsequent posts will have more details about what I’ve learned in the year away from this blog. But for now, this is one the forefront of my mind. So here we are, back at it.

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I love the holiday season, but it usually becomes an uncomfortably busy time of the year, especially if you’re involved in Christian ministry, so it wasn’t an easy commitment to devote the short span of time between Christmas and New Years to a conference in Louisville, Kentucky. But I, along with a small group of college students and staff, forfeited our comfortable 75-degrees-and-sunny existence in Southern California and flew to the frigid 20-degree climate in Louisville. The weather there is frightening enough that the city had built enclosed bridges to help people travel from building to building without having to face the biting cold (If a city needs to build heated bridges for people to get around, it’s too cold to live there in my opinion).

However the week-long conference was worth braving the cold.  Through the preaching of the word and the testimonies of the saints abroad, my mind was transformed and opened to the call of missions. I was humbled and convicted that my view of missions and the church was underdeveloped and inadequate for the glorious things that God had intended it to be. It was a paradigm-shifting, God-glorifying, Christ-preaching conference, and I’ve boiled my takeaway thoughts into three major headings:

*Note: I use the term “missions” to refer to the act of moving to another culture and/or geographical location for the purpose of making the Gospel known among people who have not heard the Gospel.

1. Missions: Exporting the Local Church

As Christians we often hear about mission apart from the local church: if a person decides that they’re called overseas the church is perceived to be the financial investors and spiritual oversight, but nothing more. I always pictured a rather cold relationship between missions and the local church, but I quickly saw that this isn’t the way God designed missions. When a person goes on missions, they are exporting the local church: they are building a church, a community of believers who operate to love and encourage one another. But if we know not and understand not the local church, how can be build a community of believers in an unfamiliar place?

At the Cross Conference the intimate connection between missions and the local church became clear to me. There should be no “lone ranger” missionaries (something I firmly believed in before), but even more than this, missionaries need to love the local church, serve in local church, and understand deeply the purpose of the local church. These are not suggestions, but they are essentials. In this way, if you don’t  love, serve, and understand the local church, you are ill-suited for the mission field. On the other hand, if you love, serve, and understand the local church, you are more ready for the mission field (even if you’ve never considered it). As one speaker aptly put it, “There is no sanctification through aviation.” The person you are here will be the person you are on the mission field, so learn to love the church well.

Recommended: “The Call of Christ: Inspired, Informed, Confirmed” – Mack Stiles

2. Risk: And the Sovereignty of God

Another unique topic for a missions conference was about the sovereignty of God. If you’re like me, when you think of missions you imagine a scruffy man snaking through thick jungle with a canteen and bible strapped to his torn shirt. Each day, he wakes in a hut unsure whether he will live to see the next. Each day is lived on the brink of death and risk is all around. This is what you might imagine, or maybe I just have a rather drab outlook of missions.

Yes, there is risk in missions. There is risk in uprooting your entire family and moving to a country where you don’t know the culture or how to ask where the bathroom is. There is risk in missions just like there is risk in living in the US. However, as Christians, we must understand that God’s work is much more strategic than that. We must take into account the sovereignty of God––the utter control, provision, and allowance of God. This truth must reign clear in our minds as we consider missions: nothing happens to the children of God apart from what He allows. If persecution and suffering come on the mission field, God has sovereignly allowed it. If we are blessed abundantly  on the mission field, God has sovereignly allowed it. No risk associated with preaching the Gospel and fulfilling the Christian purpose is greater than the sovereignty of God.

Recommended: “Five Surprising Motivations for Mission” – Kevin DeYoung

3. Christ: And the Call to Missions

We’ve all heard of the distinction between “senders” and “goers”. I’ve sat for many years in my comfortable chair as the self-proclaimed leader of the “senders”. I always thought that I could pick a “goer” out in a crowd: the outspoken, boisterous, sometimes shocking personality with lowered standards of living and a live-or-die mentality. They’re surely called by God to go, I would think. They’ve hit the missionary genetic jackpot. God will surely use them, but that’s not me. Then I’d return to my chair, bow my head, pray for them once, and get back to playing Candy Crush.

The requirements for missions somehow got lost in translation: missions is not a personality thing, it’s a purpose thing. Having an extroverted personality has as much to do with missions as the color of my bible has to do with my standing in the church. The greater goal in the work of missions, preaching Christ, is the purpose for which we have been saved and each Christian is called to have the same conviction and heart to this end. No one is excluded but everyone is to be intimately involved with the spreading of the Gospel to the unreached and unengaged. Yes, that means some of us are to stay where we are and fund the work of God around the world, but we should have no less heart for missions than those on the field. Many of us who are here are likely better suited for the mission field but have yet to consider it.

Recommended: “Mobilizing God’s Army for the Great Commission” – David Platt

With one heart, the church of Christ is called to complete the work of evangelism to the end of the earth (Matt. 28:19-20). Until Christ returns, our mission stands and we need all hands on deck.

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Book Review: “Why We Love the Church” by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

As promised, here’s a review of one of the books of my ‘Spring Break Goals’ list. It was a joy to read. Check it out!

Kevin DeYoung is coauthor of Why We’re Not Emergent and author of Just Do Something. He serves as senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, across the street from Michigan State University.

Ted Kluck is coauthor of Why We’re Not Emergent, and an award-winning sportswriter. He lives in Michigan where he attends University Reformed Church.

What with the current movement to ‘non-institutional’ churches, this was a refreshing book to read. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck attempt to bring a balanced look at the current Christian landscape, evaluating the pros and cons of the institution that is the church. However, their intentions in this book are clear: “We don’t want Christians to give up on the church,” they write, “In fact, we hope this book might have some small effect in helping people truly love their local church no matter how imperfect it may be.” They try to debunk myths and common stigmas attached to the church, and are very clear about who’s currently spreading false ideas about God’s bride, especially focusing on the skewed ideas of emergent or missional movements. They are candid about the different stereotypes that are attached to traditional churches and systematically diffuse each bad idea about the church. DeYoung and Kluck will essentially answer every question you have about the church and its role throughout scripture and history.

Though the writing style might seem a little dry at times (when they talk about church statistics), or confusing (it’s hard to distinguish between the writing of DeYoung and Kluck), they make up for it in clarity (subtitles help) and humor (the endnotes are hilarious!). It was definitely a good book for me to read: as a person who has been very critical of the church and its role, it not only illuminated Christ’s love for the church, but it helped me understand the blessings and necessity of the church in general. I discovered that there is a mistake in thinking that we are the ones who bring about the kingdom of Christ but rather, we are given the kingdom through the church. And biblically, the purpose of the church is simple (though it is executed in various ways)–“It seems that proclaiming this message of redemption is the main mission of the church.” Between the hilarious anecdotes about their own stereotypes of the church, the straightforward talk about the church’s shortcomings, and the encouraging talk about all the blessings that the church brings to the community and believer alike, I was brought to praise God for my own church.

This book is versatile as well. DeYoung himself writes that this book was made for four types of people: the ‘committed,’ the ‘disgruntled,’ the ‘waffling,’ and the ‘disconnected’. This is true. I think each aforementioned type of person would benefit from reading parts of this book, but I also feel like every Christian falls into one of those categories. So, in an effort to be more specific in my recommendation, I think that young church-goers would benefit from reading this book the most. Young adults, college and high school students are most susceptible to misconceptions of the local church and this book provides a balanced view of contemporary issues. Instead of following a trend or a religious fad, try reading this book and all the facts first, then you can decide whether the church is biblical or not (and I guarantee you it is).

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Desiring God

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Russell Moore

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AlbertMohler.com

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The Cripplegate

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Thabiti Anyabwile Posts – The Gospel Coalition

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Kevin DeYoung Posts – The Gospel Coalition

"28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same." - Jonathan Edwards