Every church (and every believer for that matter) needs to be inwardly strong while outwardly focused. We are called to grow deeper as Christ’s disciples even as we follow Him on mission. Jesus expressed this clearly in His call, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” He makes us (inner strength brought about by spiritual transformation) fishers of men (outward focus as we engage the mission).
Inward strength and outward focus go hand in hand for us as Jesus followers. It’s not one or the other, but both at the same time. You’ve probably heard someone say about their church, “We are focused on quality, not quantity.” We understand and agree with their concern to grow disciples, but implied in the statement is the idea that you can’t have inward strength and outward focus at the same time. As churches, our mission is to make disciples, lots of them, as the Gospel is shared with every man, woman and child in our time and every time until Jesus comes again. We are called to grow stronger and larger.
With that in mind, ask yourself two questions:
What can I point to in my life that indicates I am growing stronger as a follower of Christ?
What can I point to that demonstrates I am fishing - engaged in the mission?
To be quite honest, I am not always happy with my answers to these questions. That’s probably the case with most of us. I was recently moved by the testimony of Pastor Ken Hale, one of our Michigan Baptist pastors. His words powerfully demonstrate the balance between inner strength and outward focus:
“I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am that the BSCM held the Engage 24 Evangelism Conference. It has recharged my ministry, and our church has already experienced God working as a result.
Tuesday evening while in my hotel room I wrote down 6 names for salvation. Sunday morning two of those walked the aisle accepted Jesus as Savior. A mother and her 15-year-old daughter both came forward. With tears in everyone's eyes, we had a celebration right there in church.
God began to do more work in my life. Last night, I walked the neighborhood around the church asking God to give me just one person to share the gospel with. I came across a man named Ramon, and we struck a conversation with each other for 45 minutes. I wish I could tell you he trusted Christ, but a relationship was started, the seed was planted and I am trusting God for his salvation. While speaking with Ramon, I learned we have about 3 meth labs within a five block radius of our church. I learned much about our community. I am praying that each Tuesday night as I walk the neighborhood around our church that we can see many come to know Jesus.
As I walked back to the church, I met a lady named Angela. She was needing prayer for her family. God is good as we can reach people, all we have to do is get out there. I am so glad I attended Engage 24 and got recharged!!
Thank you BSCM and NAMB for helping renew and recharge this pastor so that Community Baptist can be a Lighthouse for Jesus and help Punch holes in the darkness in Hastings, MI.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.