Cultivating Local Missions

If the church is to reach the world for Christ, then it must reach its Jerusalem first (Acts 1:8).  If a church is not involved in its community through evangelism, then it will not be involved in missions.  And as Yemi Ladipo says, “A church not involved in mission will forever be a mission field.” Charles Spurgeon put it well: “A church which does not exist to do good in the slums and dens and kennels of the city is a church that does not exist to reclaim heathenism, to fight with evil, to destroy error, to put down falsehood. A church that does not exist to take the side of the poor, to denounce injustice and to hold to righteousness, is a church that has no right to be.”

The church needs to learn how to serve the local community through good works and service.  People need to learn servanthood and humility here before they attempt to serve others in a foreign country.  The congregation needs to develop hospitality for strangers so they can be hospitable when they leave the comforts of home.  Perhaps the reason why so many missionaries return home from the mission field discouraged from lack of results is that they expected to see people saved outside of America when they never expected to see people saved while in America.

Local missionary work is the training ground for foreign missionary work.  The church can learn how to be evangelistic in their Jerusalem through evangelism training classes that the church offers and through church outreaches.  The church can offer a Sunday School class where the people are first trained in evangelism and then go door to door witnessing after the church service.  The church can start a prison ministry and a nursing home ministry to reach those who otherwise would not be reached.  The church can start a homeless shelter or a food pantry as a way to witness to those who otherwise would never hear the gospel.  Church members should be encouraged to invite their neighbors over for dinner in order to introduce them to the Christian faith and to invite them to church.  The congregation should be encouraged to ask others how they can pray for them.  This is a good way to open up dialogue about faith in Christ.  The church could hold question and answer sessions in order to answer questions about how to more effectively share the gospel and how to answer objections to Christianity.  There are a multitude of things the church can do to reach others for Christ.

What the church does locally to reach the lost should be used in the other countries the church is involved in as well.  Those on the mission team will be able to better evangelize in foreign countries when they have already been using the same method at home when going door to door.  The church should use evangelistic tracts which are also available in other languages so they can use the same ones for missions.  Each member needs to know how to give their testimony and be able to explain the gospel accurately and quickly.  If they can do this, they will be better prepared for going on mission trips.  The pastor must preach about and present the gospel regularly from the pulpit.  He should preach specifically on the gospel and the resurrection of Christ several times a year.  A pastor who speaks often of Christ and the gospel will have a congregation that can tell others about Christ without fear and with boldness.

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