Editor’s Note: The following article by Pastor Rick originally appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of Ministry Today when he served as Guest Editor. Please continue to pray for the Warren family as they grieve the loss of Rick and Kay’s son, Matthew.
The greatest need in the world today is to release the latent energy bottled up in believers who are doing nothing for the Kingdom of God. It’s time for the Church to rise up and be the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ; but it seems like our hands and feet have been amputated, and most of the time we’re just a big mouth. It’s time for the Church to stop being known for what we’re against and start being known for what we stand for: grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, salvation, and new life in Jesus Christ.
That’s why we began re-thinking our mission strategy at Saddleback. Jesus tells us to “go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15 NCV). “Go” is a key word for believers. You can’t spell “Gospel” without “go.” You can’t spell “Good News” without “go.” You can’t spell “God” without “go.”
Jesus commands us to go, meaning missions is not about sending out professional missionaries, organizations, or aid workers to do the work for us, although we need them and the valuable work they do. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV). What is a witness? It’s real simple: A witness is somebody who tells his or her story. A witness just says, “This is what I saw. This is what I heard. This is what happened to me.” Nobody else can tell your story. You don’t need any special training to do it. Just tell people what Jesus has done in your life.
Jesus also said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Now what does that mean for us? Jesus was laying out a plan of ever-increasing influence. When he said go to Jerusalem, he was saying start in your own backyard. Start with your family, your friends, your co-workers. “In Jerusalem” means start in your own city and neighborhood.
Then he said you go to Judea and Samaria. Your Judea is the region where you live. For me, that’s Southern California. What state or district, province or prefecture do you live in? That’s your Judea.
Then Jesus said go to Samaria. Samaria means people who live in your area but who are culturally different from you. Do you know anybody like that? Sure you do. They might even live next door to you. Jesus was saying, “Just go to people who are different from you.”