Our Great Commission Map and Compass
Do It Yourself (DIY) shows are amazing—you can build, remodel, or complete any project in an hour’s time, and it always turns out perfect, right? This simply does not match reality. Still in doubt? Just Google, “Pinterest Fails.”
The reality of doing ministry is precisely the same. What seems clear and simple in a book or course quickly becomes messy and unclear out on the streets. A few years ago, when we were living overseas, we were planning on having a retreat for several of our teams. The retreat was going to be entitled “Clarity in the Chaos,” in which we were going to look at the messiness of walking in the Spirit on the field, the messiness of evangelism, the messiness of discipleship, and the messiness of planting churches.
Without a map or a grid, it is easy to get lost and spend years walking in circles going nowhere. If we are going to engage unreached peoples and places with the Gospel, we might need to ask, “Can I get a map and a compass?”
The Six Core Tasks of Church Planting—the Map
Rerouting . . . make a U-turn and proceed to the route. Have you experienced Siri’s kind correction when you get off track? Whether it be Siri or, before that, a Garmin GPS or, even before that, a Rand McNally spiral bound map, we all need help in knowing how to get from point A to point B.
The “Six Core Tasks of Church Planting” provide a basic map to guide a missionary along the continuum from entering a new community, sharing the Gospel, discipling new and maturing believers, forming healthy churches, developing local leaders, and exiting to new communities while maintaining a healthy connection with that maturing church (see imb.org/missions-church-planting). This “map” lays out the big picture of the missionary task and helps one chart the course in the right direction.
A Map and a Compass Work Together
Having a map is wonderful, and finding where you are on that map and how to get to where you want to be is also necessary. While a map provides the grid, a compass is a portable guide that keeps you on point as you make your way from point A to point B. When you don’t know where you are on a map, you can triangulate your position using a compass. To triangulate your position, you will need three points of reference.
Triangulating Our Great Commission Position
Triangulation works on pinpointing three points of reference and evaluating one’s position based on his/her relationship in regard to those points. To discover where we are and what we need to be about on our “map,” we have these three points of reference to keep us on track:
Reference Point 1—A Growing Confidence in the Spirit of God
The first reference point essential to navigating our way in the work is to have a growing confidence in the Spirit of God. This is a growing conviction of the necessity and sufficiency of the Holy Spirit for life and work. This is an understanding that life and work require God Himself, resident in a believer. This results in a life filled with the presence of God—a relationship of walking with God and being God’s man/woman.
Confidence in the Lord enables you to anticipate His activity in every aspect of the work. In your obedience, it allows you to rest in His sufficiency to do only what He can do. How could you ever be able to serve Him without the understanding that it is Christ in you Who works mightily (Colossians 1:27–29)?
Reference Point 2—A Growing Competence in the Ways of God
The second reference point is to have a growing competence in the Ways of God. In other words, we need a growing understanding of a biblical missiology, understanding His ways in each area of the work. This results in a life aligned with the ways of God, working with God in His redemptive work according to His means.
Competency here provides guidance for how to enter new communities, share the Gospel, disciple believers, form healthy churches, develop leaders, and exit well. How would you ever know what to do without God’s Word being your guide (Psalm 111:2; 143:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16–17)?
Reference Point 3—A Growing Consecration to the Eternal Purpose of God’s Glory
The third reference point is a growing consecration to the eternal purpose of God’s glory. As we get glimpses of His glory, the value of earthly things pale in comparison. His glory makes surrendering to His will easy and elicits a desire to be a part of His eternal purpose (Isaiah 6:8). This results in a life of worship.
A person cannot regularly meet with Jesus and remain the same. Consecration is where we take stock of things. It’s where we recognize that we have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24). It is where the cares of this world no longer have a hold on us (Mark 4:19). It is where we consciously lay aside anything that will keep us from being wholly His (Hebrews 12:1–2). It is where we desire “that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). How could you not be surrendered to Him after having seen His glory (2 Corinthians 4:4–18)?
As we work within each of the six core tasks, may our lives be filled with His life (confidence), aligned with His ways (competence), and zealous for His glory (consecration).