Everybody knows that the most important thing in an American high school is football (maybe basketball in Indiana). But some students, who can’t play football, get really good at tidliwinks. But tidliwinks don’t really matter. No matter how good you are at them.
So church planting in a Muslim context is hard. Very hard. So hard that the tendency is to find other things that make us feel like we’re accomplishing something on a daily basis. Here is a list of things to watch out for that will steal your attention if you don’t stay focused:
- Business has turned into a primary missions strategy when the planting of local churches is the only strategy laid out by the New Testament. When a missionary in a closed country has to have another purpose to be there, that other purpose can easily become the purpose as it is a greater honor to be a businessman or teacher or doctor in a Muslim country than a preacher of the Gospel. Also, it feels good to make money every day in the business rather than get rejected every day when you present the Gospel to Muslims.
- Student trips is probably the greatest temptation for me. I love spending time with college students. And they want it! They just are so excited about serving Jesus. Every new thing you teach them they love and thank you for. That’s a lot different response than you get from most Muslims.
- Social good is the hardest one to “attack”. But aren’t Muslims more thankful when you build a play ground for their kids than when you preach the Gospel to them and plant a church in their cities? Most Muslim countries will be glad to have you come and serve them as long as you don’t convert anybody. It would be easy for a missionary to point to a lot of Muslims who really like him and even really like Jesus because of him but not to a church. If we haven’t planted a church, we haven’t yet succeeded.
- Family is a big temptation. Our first disciples are our kids, right? Yes, but you didn’t go to the mission field to disciple your kids. You should do that whether you were a hamber flipper in your home country, a pastor, a missionary, whatever. Family is of utmost importance but we have to put in a good 50 to 60 hours per week at the main reason we are on the field: winning, discipling, church planting.
- “Glorifying God” is a the main goal of everything but is often used as a cop-out. We cannot point abstractly and proclaim: “I have just been glorifying God here, brother.” No, God has laid out his method of being glorified: The preaching of the Gospel to the lost, the discipling of believers, the planting of churches. These things glorify God, though not exclusively, definitely primarily. Without those three things (starting with the first) we have not fulfilled his plan for glorification on the earth.