Paul Worcester, national director of collegiate evangelism with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), hosted a webinar called “Creating a Sending Culture in your Collegiate Ministry” Nov. 18. Nearly 500 collegiate leaders registered to participate.
Several speakers from NAMB and The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., spoke during the virtual meeting, including lead pastor and current Southern Baptist Convention president, J.D. Greear.
In opening the webinar, Worcester encouraged and challenged those listening with a brief message from Matthew 9 focused on the way Jesus described the harvest and the need for laborers to share the message of the gospel.
“The problem is not with the harvest. The problem is a lack of laborers,” Worcester said. “There is a direct connection to how many laborers we raise up and send out as a ministry and how big our impact is for God’s kingdom.”
Greear served as the keynote speaker who discussed how The Summit Church, with its proximity to several different colleges in the Raleigh-Durham area, developed a sending culture within their church among college students.
He began by saying that, in an age of the novel coronavirus, a virtual webinar on sending may seem counterintuitive. Greear explained, though, how God has used massive global efforts, like the current pandemic, as a springboard for the advance of the Great Commission.
“You and I are alive at a particular moment where Psalm 46:10 God says, ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations,’” Greear said. “We kind of have no other way of doing anything right now except to be still. We can’t go but know that this is all happening for the purpose of God reaching the nations.”
Greear described two steps for creating a sending culture. The first was to recognize that everyone in the church, if they follow Christ is called to fulfill the Great Commission.
“The calling that God gives to the believer was included in the call to follow Jesus. ‘Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men,’ which means when you accepted Jesus, you accepted the call to mission. The question is no longer if you’re called. The question is where or how.”
The second step for generating that sending culture was to realize that rapid multiplication happens when ordinary people are filled with the Holy Spirit and sent on mission.
In the New Testament era, Greear argued, the church grew and multiplied on the shoulders of the average Christian being obedient to the commission to get the message of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Christianity was a small movement that changed the world over the course of a few centuries through the faithfulness of thousands of people whose names are unknown to history.
Large ministries with famous leaders can draw tons of people, and they have their place, Greear said, but the next revolution of gospel advancement will be through churches of all sizes sending ordinary people out to start new churches and live on mission.
“There are more Southern Baptist churches than there are Starbucks, Subways, or McDonald’s,” Greear pointed out. “What if every single one of those churches, or even half of them, took this seriously and said, ‘We are going to reproduce?’ That’s where we could have the same thing happen that did in the first two or three centuries [of the church].”
Two NAMB staff members, Steve Turner and Dithson Noel, pointed to a pair of initiatives that NAMB offers to assist collegiate leaders in creating that sending culture in their ministries.
Turner, who leads NAMB’s GenSend program, explained the vision and purpose of GenSend for college students.
“About eight years ago, we created Gensend as a tool in your sending tool kit,” Turner told collegiate leaders. “That’s how I want you to think about GenSend.”
Noel, a NAMB church planting mobilizer, then shared about GO2. GO2 is not a program, he said, but another level of mobilization that can be added to any college ministry. GO2 is focused on encouraging college students to leverage the first years of their careers to live on mission in North America and around the world.
“Students are graduating and moving all over the nation and the world to cities and starting their careers,” said Noel. “We help students transition from the campus to the city by plugging them into a gospel centered church so they can use their careers for a purpose.”
Todd Unzicker, associate pastor of The Summit Church, and Wes Smith, college pastor of The Summit Church, fielded questions from Worcester and others on the call about practical steps for changing the culture in their ministries.