How do we find missional direction for our church? So if we determine that scripture really does expect more of us than sending our money to some mission organization and that we should be engaging unreached people, how do we discover where to go?
The Holy Spirit clearly directs the church throughout the book of Acts. He is not contained in a box or some formula that we can plug in and compel to our bidding. But He clearly speaks and gives direction to the church. We see this clearly in what we have come to refer to as the Macedonian call on one of Paul’s mission journeys.
As Dr. Luke records the event, he says we were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go to Asia, and then agin Mysia and Bithnynia, along with Mysia and Troas. But through a vision that Paul receives they are directed to go to Macedonia. The result of their obedience largely results in the great movement of Christianity to Europe and then the United States.
We read these words in Acts 16:
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
7 And when they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them;
8 so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing beseeching him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
10 And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
So when we determine God has indeed called our church to direct missional engagement, how do we decide where to go? There are so many places of need, how do we choose one? The answer may seem simplistic to some, and it may seem to fly in the face of our cultural predisposition to take charge and make decisions. But the answer is, “Ask God.” God sovereignly directs His church, and He has a place of service for us. I believe He will tell us if we have sincerely asked out of a heart willing to obey. If the issue of willingness to obey whatever He says has not been settled, I do not believe God is obligated to tell us. It is not, “Hey, God, tell us what You are thinking, and if we like it we will do it.” When we say, “Wherever He leads I’ll go,” we are in position to hear. Determine to be Spirit-led.
“Give me something practical” you say. Well try this. Get a map of the world, and put it where you can see it during your prayer times. Order one from a mission organization that tracks unreached people groups (www.imb.org). Pray over the map and see if God leads your eyes continually to the same place. Do this as a church. God will direct if we will position ourselves to listen.