I’ve often heard that the “secret sauce” necessary to stimulate a vibrant, growing assembly is a healthy interest in missions. Recently, I had the opportunity to witness the validity of this idea while visiting an assembly in Mexico City.
The building comfortably seats around 100 people although, I was told, they have jammed as many as 150 in for special occasions. Recently they began running two services on Sundays to allow for more growth. What struck me was the vibrancy of the group under its 4 elders (who range in age from mid 30s to mid 60s).
Prayer for missions
The first meeting I attended was their weekly prayer meeting. About 25 men, 40 women, and 20 children gathered for the 2-hour service. We prayed both together and in groups.
While local needs were brought before the Lord, much prayer focused on missions and the church around the world. After I reported on the work of FBH International, I took questions about how people could be involved in international missions.
God working in lives
During the week I spent there, I enjoyed hospitality in several contexts and after initial discussions about the weather, the Mexico City traffic, and how spicy I like my food, the topic of conversation typically turned to what the Lord was doing in their lives and the lives of people I knew. God’s work on earth was what really interested them.
Knowledge about missions
At the weekend missions conference, well-prepared workshops provided accurate, up-to-date information about the Lord’s work in specific regions. The leaders had obviously done careful research, and went to considerable lengths to bring the facts home to us.
Some were in costume. Others found video clips. On one memorable occasion, prayer was interrupted by the sound of machine gun fire to simulate what Christians meeting for prayer in eastern Ukraine might experience. It was surprising, and very effective.
Worship focused on devotion
To be frank, I do not usually experience this level of engagement and interest in prayer or missions events, so I paid attention to anything which might provide an explanation. No doubt several factors play their parts, but what I observed first-hand had to do with the music.
What grabbed my attention was the number of songs that made reference to the cost of following Christ. Many of them would fit under the “consecration,” “devotion,” or “missions” headings in a topical index. They were not mere utterances of praise, but acknowledgments of the Lordship of Christ and the practical consequences of such acknowledgment in our lives.
A commitment to serve the Lord
These constant reminders that God calls His people to abandon their comfort and follow Him has obviously penetrated the souls of these people.
Many of the one-on-one conversations I enjoyed had to do with next steps in terms of getting their lives in order and serving the Lord in their own communities or further afield.
A heart to give to missions
The financial resources available to these folks who have seen their currency devalued by something like half in the last 10 years is limited, yet they send missionary offerings to specific workers in a variety of places. They are turning stereotypes upside down with their support of the Lord’s work.
Is interest in missions really the “secret sauce” necessary to have a vibrant local church? It might not be the only ingredient in the receipt, but it is certainly an important part.