“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.'” – John 20:21
“Isn’t this the primary message of all of scripture, not just John?”
It is a great point and I would say Yes! But John is clearly focused on this and you see Jesus most clearly concerned with the sending nature of the Father, himself and even the Holy Spirit that is to come in this gospel.
But the commenter makes a great point and one that flows perfectly into this article about apostle as “Sender”.
Apostle as Sender
One of the primary roles of the apostle is to set up and fan the flame of a sending community.
The job of the apostle is to help define and fan into flame the identity of the church as one that is sent out into the world with God to be his example, share the gospel and plant churches where ever they are.
So many of our churches in America are designed just the opposite of this. They are set up to attract people to them, and the members are not fully activated as sent agents of God.
At best they attend church and maybe invite a friend. If they are really good Christians, they lead a Sunday school class. The believer is fully activated in that community and “Church Building” but if you asked them how they are activated in their business, classroom, lab, neighborhood or sports team, they would look at you with a dazed stare.
I have these conversations all the time!
My Business Friend
Just today in Seattle I was talking to an entrepreneurial friend of mine who has been in business for 20 years. He is a dedicated Christian, goes to church, but has no idea how God intersects his line of work.
I know this because I asked him about it today. I asked him how does he see himself as an agent for God in his work? How do you influence people for Christ in your business and deals? What are you seeing and how is your church helping you and equipping you for that?
I wasn’t asking these questions in a condescending way, this guy is a friend of mine. But I genuinely wanted to help him think about this. This guy is a real influencer with people in business and I wondered how it translated to Christ.
He honestly looked at me and said,
“I don’t know.”
Almost every singe business guy I talk to says this and it really bothers me. It also really bothers them by the end of the conversation.
He then went on to tell me that he recently left one company to start another and then two weeks after 11 people were fired for budget reasons.
Those 11 people all know him and one of them texted us during our meeting saying, “we need to talk about what is next.” This person is reeling from recently being let go.
I asked my friend if these people were Christian and he said no, and then I asked him,
“Have you ever considered yourself these people’s pastor?”
These are people that are not going to go to church and he is a person they look up to and respect in business and this industry he is in. They are texting him for counsel for darn sakes.
He said he had never thought about that and I said,
“What if church wasn’t defined by you going on Sunday mornings, but by you being sent into your world in Christ’s name? What if your pastor and community were empowering you, training you and praying for you be the church in your work and wherever you go in the world? What if your job wasn’t to run a Sunday School class at church, but to go out after work and have a beer with these people and talk? What if the church even let you invest some of your tithe towards that?”
He simply said, “I would love that church. It sounds awesome.”
This is not a guy who is against or opposed to God’s mission. He isn’t opposed to being sent by God into his work either.
He just doesn’t have vision and he doesn’t have anyone helping him see that Jesus is one who sends people into the world, not just one who invites them to attend church on Sunday!
This is the role of the apostolic leader; to fan the flame of mission and sentness in every believer’s heart.
Our churches and communities need to be full of people that are taking their mission from God and going out in power to share the gospel and plant churches amongst their friends and colleagues that will never go to “church” as we know it.
Apostolic leaders create communities that are sent, fan them into flame and then preserve the sent nature. They push people into mission, train them for it, and send them off.
Sent communities are defined by who is going out, not by who is coming in.
My prayer for my friend and my prayer for you is that you would know how to engage the world you are currently planted in. Be it business, law, kids, neighbors or something else. I want you to have vision for this and be empowered to go do it!
You must be sent and embrace that identity from Jesus!
Where is an area in your world that Jesus may be calling you to reach? Is anyone empowering you into that place?
Dave Ferguson and a few of his friends just came out with a great book that can help you in your mission. Check it out!
Discover Your Mission Now! Five Simple Practices to Change Your World by Dave Ferguson with Jon Ferguson & Tim Sutherland.