In North Carolina, 5.6 million people do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. In North America that number is 258 million people, and throughout the world, six billion people do not know Jesus.
Within that six billion it is estimated about 3,800 people groups that are unreached and unengaged with the gospel. That means these people groups are essentially void of any evangelical witness at all. Find it Here (FIH) 2012: Expanding the Kingdom is an intentional effort to focus on missions involvement, helping get the gospel to people in North Carolina and around the world who need to hear about salvation that only comes through Jesus Christ. Find it Here 2012 is the final year in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s three-year focus on evangelism, discipleship and missions involvement.
In year one of the Find it Here emphasis, hundreds of churches participated in an Easter evangelism emphasis. In the months leading up to Easter, North Carolina Baptists prayed for lost family members, neighbors and friends, and invited them to Easter Sunday worship services. Pastors committed to preaching an evangelistic sermon on Easter Sunday. Churches across the state saw God work in many lives as people came to faith in Jesus Christ.
In 2011, churches committed to a yearlong focus on life-transformational discipleship. North Carolina Baptists were encouraged to pray for disciples, preach on discipleship, teach discipleship in classrooms and homes, and be disciples in their communities by serving.
For 2012, Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions development, and Mike Sowers, senior consultant for Great Commission Partnerships, are helping lead the way in developing the Find it Here emphasis. (The complete interview is available online at ncbaptist.org; click Resources; under Audio choose NC Baptist Connect.)
Q: What does it mean to “expand the kingdom?”
A: Chuck Register: There are two kingdoms that are always at war in the life of a believer. There’s God’s Kingdom – that’s God’s sovereign reign and rule in our lives – and then there’s my kingdom – my comfort, my happiness, my joy. In Find it Here 2012, we’re talking about expanding God’s kingdom, and expanding His rule and reign in the hearts of men and women across the world.
Q: Part of the focus of the 2012 emphasis is to help North Carolina Baptists live on mission in their community, state, nation and world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. How do believers live on mission?
A: Mike Sowers: On mission doesn’t mean simply to pack a suitcase and go somewhere else to share the gospel. On mission is about actively engaging in making disciples who make disciples; that is the Great Commission. We want to help equip North Carolina Baptists to be on mission 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We want them to be engaged in geographical locations outside their own, but it’s also a mindset of being on mission all of their lives and in every aspect of their lives.
Q: Find it Here 2012 seeks to help churches take a step toward missional living. How can churches take that next step?
A: Sowers: This will not look the same in every church, as we have such a variety of churches in our state. This emphasis is not about putting together a custom-made program as much as it is giving tools to the church so that they can develop their missions strategy. We really want churches to get missions in the forefront of who they are, and it becomes part of their DNA.
Q: Many churches across the country are in decline and are not engaging in missions. Why is that, and what is it going to take for that to change?
A: Register: Each New Testament church is to be on mission with the gospel of Christ. The reason we have too many churches not engaged in missions is that we have lost sight of the mind and heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we think about the extent to which Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost, it reminds us of the paramount priority of the souls of men and women and boys and girls. Jesus was willing to leave the throne room of heaven and be born in Bethlehem’s manger. He was willing to live His life here on earth and march all the way to Calvary to be crucified under a horrifying system of death by the Roman government. He was willing to go through all of that suffering to seek and to save that which is lost. We must understand that our priority is to glorify God by making disciples of all nations. We must be willing to go to any length of sacrifice for that to take place.
Q: The word “missions” is used often and in many different contexts. When you say “missions,” what does that involve?
A: Register: In the church today we have abused the term missions. We have begun to use the word to try and describe all that we do in the church, and everything we do is not biblical missions. We also say that ministry done elsewhere is missions. For instance, if we go across town and work on a Habitat for Humanity home, without a clear evangelism and discipleship strategy, we call that missions because it’s ministry done elsewhere. If we go overseas and work in a medical clinic, again, without a clear strategy for evangelism and discipleship, we call that missions, because it’s ministry done elsewhere.”
If we come to the New Testament and we ask, “what is the mission of the church,” we really discover what missions truly is. In the Office of Great Commission Partnerships we believe that the mission of the church is to glorify God by striving to fulfill the Great Commission, and that includes intentionally proclaiming the gospel of Christ to all peoples and nations. It also includes intentionally making mature, reproducing disciples of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. If that is the mission of the church, missions is an outflow of that mission.
We believe that missions is the utilization of biblically sound and culturally relevant strategies, methodologies and resources as the church fulfills her mission, as she glorifies God by striving to fulfill the Great Commission, intentionally proclaiming the gospel of Christ to all peoples and nations, and by intentionally making mature, reproducing disciples of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ.
If we have activity that is void of an intentional proclamation of the gospel, or is void in intentionality in making disciples, it is not missions.
Q: What resources are available to help churches get involved in FIH 2012?
A: Sowers: We have put together a helpful planning guide for churches as they participate. Inside the planning guide are sermon helps, videos, assessment tools and Bible studies that churches can use to help their missional strategies move forward. It is not a one-size fits all approach. It gets to the heart of the theology and missiology that we are trying to communicate.
Q: What are the four phases?
A: Sowers: Churches need to take a snapshot of where they are now in their missions strategy. Then, they will be able to see where they need to take that next step. The discover phase, the first phase, is very important for churches as they move into these other phases, so that they will know where they are now.
But as important as that snapshot is, it is only there to help churches progress to the next level. Building on the discover phase is the develop phase, when church leadership teams will begin to lay the framework for a comprehensive mission strategy grounded in prayer and designed to create lasting Kingdom impact in order to penetrate lostness throughout the world. We hope that in the third phase, the implement phase, churches will begin to see the vision unfold through prayer, vision trips and the mobilization of church members. In the final phase, churches will evaluate their ongoing mission strategy in order to maintain a constant pulse regarding its effectiveness.
FIH resources are available: finditherenc.org.