Mission Impact Celebration

MIC is Parkwood’s Mission Impact Celebration. In less than a week we will kick off our biannual conference in which we celebrate missions to our neighbors and among the nations. Mission Impact Celebration exists to glory in the mission of God, to share what God is doing through the mission of the church, and to exhort the church to be on mission in the intentional opportunities of everyday life and in the strategic cross-cultural communication of the gospel. Consider with me the mission of God, the mission of the church, and the opportunity we have to be involved in the mission for the glory of God and the sake of his gospel.
  MIC is for glorying in the mission of God. His mission is to magnify the glory of God and proclaim the gospel of God among the nations. The motivation of the mission is clear in Psalm 67. God wants the nations to praise him; he wants them to be glad and sing for joy as they find their salvation in him. The time of the mission is clear in Matthew 24:14. This gospel will be preached until it has reached the end of the nations and until the end of time. The example of the mission is clear in John 20:21. Disciples of Jesus are sent just as Jesus was sent, and so we go as his representatives with his example. The strategy of the mission is clear in Matthew 28:18-20. Our Father wants his glory magnified and his gospel shared, and disciple-making is his chosen methodology. And so we glory in the mission and missionary heart of our God to reach a people who are running and to redeem a people who are wretched.

MIC is for sharing the mission with the church. The mission of the church is rooted in the mission of God. He is using his church to accomplish his mission. Parkwood is delighted to send and/or partner with a number of harvest field personnel who have given their lives and their families to see the mission realized. MIC is a great time of celebration, and certainly of thanksgiving, as we gather with guests who have surrendered to the call from the Lord of the harvest. He is sending laborers into his harvest field because his mission is to magnify his glory and proclaim his gospel. As Lord of the harvest, his prerogative and delight is to send laborers to carry his life-giving gospel and accomplish his mission. So the mission of God has been received and embraced by laborers as the church’s mission. We do not gather for Mission Impact Celebration to pat ourselves on the back but to express thanksgiving and share the work that God is accomplishing through the church for his mission. It is not a time for pride in our work but for rejoicing in God’s name.

MIC is for exhorting the church to be on mission. With this grand mission to be sent out as ambassadors of Christ to proclaim reconciliation to a world far from God, we want to exhort the church to join the mission. Collectively, Parkwood embraces God’s mission in the mission of the church, and this resolve is evident in her stated purpose of glorifying God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all peoples. Individually, though, it is a constant work to exhort the faith family to join the mission. We must be consistent here for two reasons. First, the church is growing, so we must communicate well across the body of Christ to new members/visitors, and second, the natural tendency of fallen creatures is away from the surrender and discipline of mission. For these reasons, we exhort the church often, and particularly during our Mission Impact Celebration, to join the mission of magnifying his glory and proclaiming his gospel in all the world until Christ returns. I anticipate MIC with much excitement as we glory in the mission of God, share the mission with the church, and exhort others to join in the grand, creation-consuming, Christ-exalting mission. Hope to see you March 2-6 at our 2016 Mission Impact Celebration.

Schedule for Mission Impact Celebration

Wednesday, March 2

     6:30 pm MIC Worship Celebration in Worship Center

Thursday, March 3

     6:30 pm MIC Guests “Really COOL Story Night” in the Worship Center

Friday, March 4

     6:30 pm On-Campus Growth Group Dinner Meetings with MIC Guests

Saturday, March 5

     11:30 am Off-Campus Growth Group Lunch Meetings with MIC Guests 

     6:30 pm Night of Prayer and Fasting in the Worship Center

Sunday, March 6

     8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 am Worship Celebration and Life Commitment

     8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 am MIC Guests Share in Adult Growth Groups during Bible Study Hours

Why Preach Spiritual Leadership Series

We preach expository sermons at Parkwood, in short, because we believe the Bible is our great and ultimate authority. The Word of God is authoritative over our thoughts, opinions, and traditions. Expositional, exegetical preaching is therefore our intentional choice for sermon delivery as it most appropriately and sufficiently allows the preacher to convey both the authority of the Word and the necessity of our submission to it. For this reason, preaching through books of the Bible is the typical pattern for sermon planning (a biblical theology approach). In January, though, we typically plan a diversion in the preaching schedule to preach a series particularly poignant to the direction and/or far-reaching issues in the life of the church (a systematic theology approach). The preaching schedule is taking us through the book of Matthew, but we are currently taking the month of January to focus on a series entitled Spiritual Leadership.

So the question is, Why preach a Spiritual Leadership series? The answer, I mentioned last week at the close of the series’ introductory sermon, and these points will continue to surface over the course of the Spiritual Leadership series. The reasons for such a series are three: first, congregational understanding of the biblical instruction on spiritual leaders; second, administering great care in calling our leaders; and third, increasing leaders for the purpose of the church. 

First, it is incumbent upon spiritual leaders to ensure a proper congregational understanding of spiritual leadership. Spiritual leaders, in a context in which the Word of God is the ultimate authority, may not shepherd and serve any way they see fit, even should they choose a fitting way to shepherd and serve. Leaders, even wise and discerning leaders, must not lead according to their wisdom. The only appropriate manner in which to shepherd and serve is that set forth in and consistent with Scripture. God, having established and designed the church and the authority of the church, has therefore chosen and revealed the appropriate standard and manner of spiritual leadership. A Spiritual Leadership sermon series is fitting because the congregation should understand what the Father has communicated in his Word regarding spiritual leadership. And the present is an appropriate time for communicating and reinforcing a congregational understanding of the biblical instruction on spiritual leaders because of the large numbers that have been added to the congregation in recent years, many of which are previously unchurched, from other denominations, or from different traditions. If we believe the Bible, then we all need to know and be reminded what God has said about spiritual leadership.

Second, we need to be careful who we call as our spiritual leaders. It has been said, “We do God a great injury if we accept an unsuitable person to govern his household. Therefore, the greatest care must be taken that nobody is chosen for this sacred office in the church unless he has already proved himself” (Calvin, Acts, 88). Recognizing the great care we must take in calling men to spiritual leadership, it is prudent and beneficial to devote time in the sermon schedule for a systematic study of the Bible’s teachings regarding the roles and responsibilities of spiritual leaders. Future leaders must know what is required of them; current leaders must be reminded; and the church must understand the same before called upon to affirm and to follow such men in spiritual leadership. If we are to be faithful and careful in calling spiritual leaders, then we should be instructed by God’s Word that we may function according to biblical wisdom and not merely human wisdom.

Third, a Spiritual Leadership sermon series is appropriate for the calling of new spiritual leaders. A faithful church makes disciples who make disciples. In this growing context, new leaders are regularly needed. If a faithful church makes disciples, then a growing church develops leaders. Parkwood needs more leaders for two reasons consistent with her purpose. More leaders are needed to meet the growing demands of a growing congregation, and more leaders are needed for the increasing missional demands of sending more personnel to campuses and to the nations. We need a Spiritual Leadership series because we need more spiritual leaders. We need to develop leaders as often as we grow and as often as we desire that our gospel ministry grow. And we need to send more leaders to the nations and to campuses as long as we seek to obey the mission of God to magnify his glory and proclaim his gospel in all the world. 

Considering these reasons – congregational understanding of spiritual leadership, care in selecting leaders, and the continuing need for more leaders – a Spiritual Leadership series is both acceptable and beneficial. I pray as a result of this series that Parkwood would continue to grow in our understanding of spiritual leadership, take great care in selecting leaders, and develop increasingly more shepherds and servants who will lead here in Gastonia, at future campuses, and among the nations.

Going with the Gospel #3

Going to the Dibo…
A small team has recently returned from a trip to the Dibo to prepare the way for future trips. Their update is encouraging. Though few believers exist among the 120,000 Dibo, one believer, a pastor of 28 years, is currently serving this Muslim people group. An interview with Pastor Akeem* offers insight into the work of God among the Dibo and how we might pray and be involved in reaching this people with the gospel.

  
 
Muslims, of course followers of the Quran and the prophet Mohammed, understand Jesus as a historical figure but find it difficult to hear that he is the Son of God. Accordingly, Akeem reasons the Gospel of John is a great place to begin with Muslims, since that book affirms with emphasis that Jesus is the unique Son of God. The pastor recalls one man who came to understand that Jesus, recognized both in the Quran and in the Bible, was raised from the dead. The man knows that Mohammed had died and is still dead. Jesus, though, died, was resurrected, and will come back one day as the Judge of all people. In fact, Mohammed will be judged by Jesus. This good news is often quite incredible and even disturbing for those Muslims who first hear it. Sometimes they may be ready to receive this gospel after a few days, but most require a year or more of conversation and explanation of these concepts that are at first so foreign before they surrender to Jesus. Pastor Akeem went on to recount stories of other Dibo who have recently received the truth of the gospel. The Father is indeed at work in Nigeria and among this unreached people group.

  

Surrendering to Jesus is not easy, particularly for the Dibo. Identifying as a Christian is immediately difficult, and dangerous. “If you abandon Islam, you must be killed – shot or poisoned,” the pastor said. The best practice for now is to send new believers away from their home so that they may be discipled and gain some maturity before they return. Be encouraged that the hand of God is moving among the Dibo, but be vigilant to pray for them as well.

  

Given the desperate need for the gospel among the unreached of the world, and hearing of God working among the poor, the Chorti, and the Dibo, would you consider going on a trip to share the gospel in one of these places? Inspired by God and zealous for the gospel among the nations, Paul rejoices that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). But he writes in the next verse, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone sharing with them?” The God who saves has chosen to use his church to proclaim his gospel. If you will consider going and sharing that the others might hear and believe, begin by completing this trip application. Short-term trips are planned throughout 2016 for these and other partnerships.

*Names are concealed for security purposes.

International Missions Offering

The IMB is the Southern Baptist sending agency for international missions. Each year over half of the agency’s operating budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO). This offering is given during the Christmas season and is used directly for the sending and maintaining of global workers among the nations. Parkwood gives to the same offering, but we have elected to use the name International Missions Offering (IMO) simply because the name offers more explanation. The IMO is the offering we give for international missions. We significantly emphasize the IMO every year at Parkwood because we believe two truths, and all of missions come together in these two realities. First, we believe that the God of the Bible is worthy of all worship, and his desire is to redeem a people lost apart from his salvation that he might receive their worship and glory in rescuing them. Second, we believe that in the Bible our God has made clear the marching orders for every follower of Christ to magnify the glory of God and proclaim the gospel of God in all the world. Because we are driven by these two realities, we must not rest until Christ returns and announces the mission is complete. Until that day, therefore, Parkwood will give, send, and go to our neighbors and to the nations, and this coming Sunday, December 20, offers a remarkable opportunity as we give to the 2016 International Missions Offering.

As you think about giving, consider this word from our Kids Pastor Ryan Foster:

Imagine what happens when kids begin to see beyond themselves to see how they can be a part of God’s work in the world. Each Wednesday night, 225 Kids & Leaders get together for Awana, a night focused on scripture memory, relationship building, and lots of fun with recreation. This time of year is really exciting for them because it means store night. Store night is a blast because the kids trade in shares to buy gifts for their family, friends, and/or themselves. Shares, paper money with dollar equivalents, are earned throughout the year as the kids learn verses and do other awesome things. This month, we challenged our kids to do something new: to give more than they take. 

With the help of Pastor Kem Lindsay, Jacob Mennear, Lisa Taulman, and our amazing Awana leaders, we hosted a special offering service last week where the kids could give their shares to missions. It was really important to us that they understood how and why they were giving. We explained how their shares would be able to purchase specific things like Bibles, SIM cards with videos articulating the gospel, and even supporting a missionary family for a week on the field. 

After explaining, we showed video of a Nigerian village with whom we are partnered giving as they danced to the playing of drums. As the drums begin, the people come forward to give their offering. All the kids were glued to the screen and became so excited to give like the Nigerian village gave. After praying, I told them it was their turn to give and invited to come. Row by row, with the drums beating in the background, the kids came to drop their shares into baskets at the front.

What happened next, none of us fully expected: 120 Kindergarten-5th graders gave 1,180 shares, which we matched with $1,180. The entire amount was given to the International Missions Offering! Their giving, instead of buying more gifts for themselves, provided enough to support an entire missionary family on the field for 8 days! 

The Bible says that God loves a cheerful – literally “hilarious” – giver. There were a lot of hilarious kids last week, and my continued hope is that on December 20 they will see how Parkwood gives to the gospel and goes to the nations to advance the Kingdom of God. As one mom told me later, “I asked my son in the car how much he was going to give. He emphatically answered, ‘All of it!’” Wow, that kid’s perspective demonstrates the way we all should give and view the gifts and resources God gives us.

Would you consider giving like that, not out of abundance but sacrificially? Perhaps a little more explanation of what the IMB will do with these funds would help. Christ was clear regarding the extent of the mission when he said to begin where you are and continue to give, send, and go into all the world (Matthew 24:14, Acts 1:8). The IMB takes that commission seriously and sends intentionally to global cities and extreme places. They send to global cities because of the vast numbers of people in cities like Dubai and Shanghai that are lost and without the gospel. And they send to extreme places because it’s easy to get people to go to luxurious locations but difficult to convince them to go to demanding or dangerous places. The IMB sends people to global cities and extreme places because more important than preference is the desperate need for the gospel among millions and millions of unreached people who are dying with no one telling them that they can live. For example, one of those extreme places is Central Asia where many of the world’s least evangelized live with little access to the truth. In the Caucasus Mountain region of Central Asia – between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea – exist more than 2,000 villages where 45 distinct languages are spoken… and the vast majority of them are unreached with gospel.

The national goal for this year’s offering is $175 million, but that goal would be reached if every Southern Baptist gave only $30. What if every Southern Baptist gave $150? The total offering would be nearly $1 billion. Consider how many global workers we could send to global cities and extreme places with that much money?! In the days and hours leading up to Sunday, December 20, consider giving to the International Missions Offering for the sake of God’s glory among the nations.