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God-Centered “Mission” Vs. Man-centered “Missions”: Chart by Bradford Hunter

Categories God-Centered Mission Man-Centered-Missions
The Goal The Chief purpose of the Church’s Mission is to bring glory to God. Glory is brought to God when every nation, tribe, and tongue find their delight in worshipping God.The salvation of souls is certainly a goal in mission. When we look at souls, however, we desire not only that they are saved from Hell, but saved for Heaven. In man-centered missions’ the salvation of the lost is seen as the main purpose of missions. Men and Women are dying without Christ, and so we must bring them the good news.
What drives us? “People deserve to be damned, but Jesus, the suffering Lamb of God, deserves the reward of His suffering” (John Piper, Let The Nations Be Glad, p. 39). We go out because we love Christ, and we desire that others would love Him too (Of course we are also to desire that the lost would be saved and that they find true fulfillment in God). Man deserves Hell. It is often difficult to develop a love for the lost world, as the lost are so unlovely. To love the sinner who hates God and Christians is very difficult.
Worship Worship of the Triune God is both the fuel and the goal of missions. Missions exist because worship does not. In Heaven there will be no need for missions, but we will be worshipping God for eternity (Rev. 5:8-14). In man-centered missions, worship is often seen as only a secondary activity, not as important as missions.
Missions? Or Mission? There is only ONE mission of the Church: to bring glory to God by proclaiming the Gospel and reaping the harvest of souls which will worship and delight in God forever. There are numerous missions’ (plural), because there are numerous souls to save.
Bricks or Cathedrals? The big-picture’ bricklayer constantly envisions the cathedral that he has a privilege to play a part in building. So the God-centered missionary envisions the Kingdom of God which he is engaged in building. The little-picture’ bricklayer only sees the bricks and the mortar. So it is with the man-centered missionary, who when he is rejected or encounters trials or failures, cannot look beyond to see the hand of God in it all.
Work with or for Christ We are not working for Christ as much as we are working with Christ (Matthew 28:20b) In this view, we focus on our job, what we can, focus on our job, what we can do for Christ.
Human Worth Human worth is not diminished by being God-centered. Instead, it is established. That is, when we focus on God who alone has worth in Himself, and we understand that we are created in His image, this brings us great worth. Man has no worth in and of himself, and being man-centered in one’s approach to anything is ultimately futile.
 Humility Vs. Pride Though he thanks God for the opportunity to serve Him and desires to accomplish great things for God, the God-centered missionary knows that he is replaceable. He is a tool in God’s hand, and God can choose to discard him when God pleases. This brings about humility. Again, the man-centered missionary is on his own mission or various missions, and without him the venture would fall apart. The tendency is toward a Lone Ranger’ mentality. This fosters pride.
Prayer Colossians 4:2-4. Only God can open man’s hearts, so we must ever be in prayer when we are engaged in mission work. Methods are important, but only after you pray and get the message straight. Man is pursued with any method or technique that will get him to listen, to ‘open his heart’. The problem, only God can open man’s heart.Prayer takes a back seat so the methods, and the message is often compromised.
 Evangelism We focus on our faithfulness to the message, allowing God to change hearts (1 Cor. 3:5-8). We have no reason to boast for our successes’ except to boast in the Lord. Those who reject the Gospel are not rejecting us, but God.A side note: though we must allow the Gospel to be offensive (the innocent God-man dying for wretched sinners), we must not add our own offensiveness to the mix. The focus is on persuasion & results, because anyone’s heart can be opened ‘if we have the right key’.  We are seen as failures if the person doesn’t choose Christ. Method and delivery are exalted above content. Offensive doctrines like ‘eternal judgment’ and ‘total depravity’ are avoided, so as not to drive away seekers. (Obviously there is no true gospel where sin and judgment aren’t preached).
 Success & Failure  Success is guaranteed, because it is God who will build the church.(1 Cor. 3:4-6, Matt. 16:18)This is not to say that man has no role in God’s mission. Man is used as an instrument in the hands of God.Isaiah 18:6; 2 Corinthians 4:7)Even our failures are used by God as successes (Genesis 50:20; Romans 11:33-36) Success is questionable, since in missions it is seen as man’s mission, and humans make mistakes.With a man-centered viewpoint, when we succeed, we tend to become prideful, and when we fail, we tend to get defeated.
How Great a Sacrifice?  Though to the word it appears as if you have made a great sacrifice, when we focus on the sacrifice that Christ paid for us and the benefits that He gave to us, our sacrifice is minimal (See Matthew 13:44-46). With the wrong perspective, the sacrifice becomes unbearable, and when too much rejection, and too much hardship comes, the man-centered missionary is more likely to give up.
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DON WHITNEY ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR EVANGELISM

AN OUTLINE TO HAVE IN MIND WHEN SHARING THE GOSPEL

SYSL WHITNEY

MANY CHRISTIANS THINK THEY CANNOT ADEQUATELY SHARE THE gospel unless they’ve had formal training in evangelism. I’m for evangelism training, but training is not necessary before you can tell someone about Jesus and give your own testimony about how you came to know Him. In John 9 we read of a man born blind who, within an hour after his conversion, is witnessing to Ph.D.s in religion (the Pharisees). Obviously, he’d had no evangelism training, but he was able to talk about Jesus and his own conversion. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones used to say, after being saved and after hearing countless presentations of the gospel in sermons, if Christians still believe they cannot evangelize without massive amounts of training, then either they’ve heard very poor preaching or they’ve been very poor listeners. However, it does boost one’s confidence in sharing the gospel to know a general outline of what to say and to have some appropriate verses of Scripture committed to memory. Several years ago I developed an outline to hang my thoughts on, along with at least two key verses for each section. I don’t follow it woodenly in every situation, for each evangelistic encounter is unique. And sometimes I condense it a bit. But having a full presentation of the gospel ready on my lips does give me a sense of direction and a feeling of preparedness. You’re welcome to adapt the outline for use in your own personal evangelism.

1. There is one God, He is the Creator, He is holy, and He is worth knowing. See Deuteronomy 4:39; Isaiah 46:9; Genesis 1: 1; 1 Peter 1: 16. Such a God is worthy of our pursuit!

2. Everyone is a sinner separated from God. See Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:2. We have no idea how unholy we are in comparison to God.

3. There is a penalty for sin. See Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:27; Romans 14:10; Matthew 25:46. The penalty is judgment and Hell.

4. Jesus paid that penalty for all who believe. See Romans 5:8; I Peter 3:18. Jesus took God’s judgment so believers could have mercy.

5. No one can earn God’s forgiveness and favor. See Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5. We’re not saved by our works, but by faith in Jesus’ work.

6. We should respond with repentance and faith. See Mark 1:15; John 3:16. We should turn from sin and turn to Jesus for forgiveness.

7. We can have assurance of eternal life with God. See 1 John 5:13. Jesus’ resurrection and God’s Word assure believers of forgiveness.

Responding to this great message from the Bible

A. It is not only right for you to live for the God who created you and owns you, but you will find your greatest fulfillment only when you fulfill the purpose for which you were made, and that is to know God and live for Him.

B. Do you believe this great message of the Bible? Genuine belief in its truth is demonstrated by turning from living for yourself and believing that because of His death and resurrection Jesus Christ can make you right with God.

C. Are you willing to express repentance and faith in prayer to God right now?

*SOURCE: Donald S. Whitney. Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Disciplines for the Overwhelmed. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003.

ABOUT DONALD S. WHITNEY

Donald S. Whitney

Since 2005, Don Whitney has been Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he also serves as Senior Associate Dean. Before that, he held a similar position (the first such position in the six Southern Baptist seminaries) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, for ten years. He is the founder and president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality.

Don grew up in Osceola, Arkansas, where he came to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was active in sports throughout high school and college, and worked in the radio station his dad managed.

After graduating from Arkansas State University, Don planned to finish law school and pursue a career in sportscasting. While at the University of Arkansas School of Law, he sensed God’s call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He then enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1979. In 1987, Don completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Currently, he is completing his Doctor of Theology with Specialization in Christian Spirituality at the University of South Africa.

Prior to his ministry as a seminary professor, Don was pastor of Glenfield Baptist Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), for almost fifteen years. Altogether, he has served local churches in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years. His books include: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life; Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health; How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian?; and Spiritual Disciplines within the Church.

 

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