Many churches will emphasize a fresh focus on missions in November or December. What does that focus look like? As a leader in your church, how do you impart the vision you see for missions? How do you mobilize men toward that vision?
Before the dawn of the all-immersive world of virtual reality (VR), there was a toy called a viewfinder. Both a viewfinder and a VR device fill your vision with a picture. However, one clear distinction between the two is the level of immersion. A viewfinder only shows a limited number of images from a singular, circular film disk. There is no immersion, just a picture. It does not move or draw you in deeper. On the other hand, a VR headset fully immerses you in a virtual world. Images and scenes come alive in front of you.
Just as there is a marked difference between these experiences, the vision we present to men about missions can be almost as polarized. How can we communicate a complete and compelling vision of missions to men?
A Limited Vision of Missions
“Without revelation a people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy.” Proverbs 29:18 (CSB)
Other translations say, “Without a vision, the people the people perish.”
Without a vision, they will have no direction. The same applies to an incomplete or un-compelling vision.
A viewfinder vision of missions emphasizes urgency, but the urgency is undirected. It emphasizes impact, but the impact is either severely limited or unattainable. It is challenging for men to become fully involved or “immersed” in an urgent yet undirected and purposeless vision. Though it might be based on biblical truth and foundational principles, a vague vision does not capture the attention and commitment of men. They need to see that missions accomplishes an attainable and realistic impact. If they can’t tangibly grasp it, they may miss the vision, or even worse, they see it as pointless or a waste of time.
Do you have a complete and compelling vision for missions yourself, or is it a 2D experience? Have you fleshed it out for yourself and figured out how to communicate a tangible and complete vision so that it is not lost in translation?
An Unrelatable Vision
On the other side of the spectrum, your zeal for missions may present a vision or a change that is too bold or fast for your men. A sold-out pastor might assume that the congregation is spiritually, educationally, and contextually coming from the same place. In reality, the main congregation of a church may have a drastically different background and, consequently, cannot grasp your message. It doesn’t connect with men who need more background, education, or time to develop. To rush them is to force them, and to force them is to lose them. They check out.
Purposeful Urgency, Practical Impact
Pastors are tasked with finding a way to communicate a message that will land with their congregation, not just fellow pastors or elders, but every man. What then makes up a vision that conveys?
A compelling vision is more like virtual reality (VR) than a viewfinder. It is immersive, interactive, and engaging. It holds people’s attention, educates them on new or challenging ideas, and shows practical ways to invest their time or money. When you impart a Virtual Reality vision, you will impart purposeful urgency and a practical impact. It projects a clear goal and a clear reason for the urgency of the vision.
Context is Key
How can we ensure we’re conveying a 3D viewfinder vision rather than a flat viewfinder one?
Imagine a hospital Emergency Room. ER doctors are urgent in their triage because their purpose is to find, treat, and save those in their care. They impact the lives of every patient they come into contact with.
On the other hand, a physician working in a teaching environment may have the same or greater knowledge, but they are applying it to hypothetical scenarios. They aren’t immersed in a life-or-death situation that requires the same urgency and passion. They do not always see the practical impact of their work whereas ER doctors see the difference they are making in people’s lives hour by hour and day by day. In the ER, doctors experience the joy or pain of impacting someone’s life.
As leaders of men, how can we apply this same practicality when casting the vision for missions? How do we show them the call to missions has an urgent and practical impact that is more like an ER than a classroom?
Look inside the ER through a Christian lens where it is our job to bring the Gospel to the lost, hurt, dying people who have never heard the name of Christ. To create urgency, pick a specific location and do triage there. Pick an area of your community men can be involved in. Triage the areas of need, whether financial, physical, or other. Show your men the urgency of impacting that place with the purpose of meeting a physical need while sharing the Gospel. They will see the practical impact.
It can be overwhelming and unrelatable if we charge men with a broad call of fixing every “patient” or bringing the Gospel to every people group. But what if you pick one people group, one town, or one section of a city that has a real need for both practical and spiritual things, and you take time to show the men the specific, unique, and purposeful role they would have in impacting that place and people? I believe men would hop on board with that vision! They can imagine themselves immersed in that world.
Give men a vision that directs their God-given “wildness” – one that gives them a purposeful urgency and a practical impact. If we can connect men with missions, one church, one city, and one people group at a time, soon we will have men standing up and “immersing” themselves in the vision of being witnesses to the ends of the earth.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8