Six Reasons Japan is Overlooked

Six Reasons Japan is Overlooked in Global Missions

I've been thinking a little bit recently about why Japan, with having the largest city in the world and being one the most densely populated nations in the world has been overlooked in regard to Christian mission. A tweet from the Gospel Coalition International Outreach feed yesterday further affirmed my suspicion that most Americans just don't have Japan on their missional radar as a nation to be reached. So why is that? I have a list of a few reasons I believe Japan has been overlooked by American churches and mission groups. This isn't a criticism for why we have overlooked Japan in favor of other places (the whole world needs the gospel so we better go to the whole world) but I think these are some prominent reasons Japan has largely been ignored.

  1. Racism. To my grandparent's generation Japan was the enemy. They blew up and killed thousands of Americans at Pearl Harbor and brought us into a World War. Shortly after WWII the American Mission Movement occurred sending career missionaries all over the world with the gospel. Except Japan. I think there is a link.
  2. Affluence. Japan is wealthy, technologically advanced, literate and industrious. There won't be any photo ops with starving children there. You don't have anything to take to them or fix for them other than their souls. Bummer.
  3. Thrill Factor. You won't get killed or even kicked out of Japan for sharing the gospel. At the most you might get ignored and left alone. If anything we like the thrill of the dangerous place where we can say to our churches "I can't tell you where I'm going because I might get killed." That's not to say that doing mission in dangerous places isn't needed or good. We must be in those places too. However, Japan doesn't afford that kind of reality. So, where's the fun in that?
  4. Long-Term. You probably won't make 30 converts in your first week of mission in Japan, let alone your first year. Maybe if you spend ten years there you might. But, we like our mission trip trophies ("I preached to 500 and saw 534 get saved while I was in South America for two weeks"). You won't have any merit badges of ministry in Japan unless you're there for a long, long time.
  5. Expensive. Yes, Japan is expensive. Ridiculously so. You have to raise a lot of money to go there for a long-term assignment. Housing costs a ton. It's just not cheap to do mission there. American churches can probably only send a small handful of missionaries to Japan whereas they could send a ton of money to other places and have a larger number of workers in other places. In the land of "more is better" you can see how that value works itself out.

I mention these things, again not to downplay the other places in the world where missionaries are going and are sent. I am glad they do that. But for the American church there is a value of "Bang for the Buck, Get A Ton of Convert Trophies, Thrill-Seeking" Mission. Japan won't give you any of that. It won't even give you poverty to take a picture of and say "I can fix that!"

If anything mission in Japan looks more like what William Carey had to endure going to India for the first time. A rejected, long-term, low-fruit, costly-life. This is so counter-intuitive to American discipleship that I believe it is one of the main reasons Japan has not seen a large amount of missionaries sent to work there. All you can do is take the gospel and be there for a very long time. Maybe the American church needs mission to Japan to teach us about discipleship more than Japan needs American missionaries.

There is one more reason Japan has been overlooked in regard to Christian mission. Calling. Maybe it hasn't been the right time. Yet, I think today we're on the cusp of that calling being worked out. Today the Lord is raising up and calling men and women everywhere to go to Japan with the gospel for the glory of Jesus. Today is the day of salvation. So for us today we can go to Japan, labor there for the long-haul and see the name and fame of Jesus gloriously spread in the Land of the Rising Sun. Christians, let's put Japan on our radar as a place to pray, support and send people for the duration of their lives, for the sake of the gospel.

Jet Set Japan: ReTrain Rendezvous

Two Years Later: The Fruit of ReTrain

Almost two years ago to the day I sat in a small class room at the Ballard campus of Mars Hill Church in Seattle with the nine men that made up the "Global Massive" cohort. Our assignment at that meeting was to spend twenty minutes presenting a final project that encapsulated our year at ReTrain. I can't say that I remember well all of the presentations given, but there was one in particular that I do remember and served as a bit of a catalyst for me ending up for ten days in Japan. That presentation belonged to Steve Sakanashi.

Steve is a fourth-generation Japanese-American. From the first day I met him at ReTrain in August of 2010 he was talking about his passion and the need that Japan has for the gospel. His aim was to do whatever he could, however God led and called him, to reach the nation of Japan as a church-planter. So in that small little room at Mars Hill Church as Steve shared his vision and plan to plant a church and make disciples in Japan I wrote down one note to myself in my notebook, "Steve is going to be the William Carey of Japan."

What I didn't expect in the two years between that presentation and today was that I would get caught up in the momentum of the Holy Spirit to reach Japan. I always figured I'd run into my ReTrain brethren at different Acts 29 Network functions or in Seattle whenever I had the chance to get there. I never figured my next rendezvous with Steve would happen on the soil of the country he was so passionate to reach.

Since that presentation Steve will tell you that a lot has changed. He is now married to a lovely lady and is expecting their first child. His vision has been sharpened and his skill as an entrepreneurial leader has magnified.

Today Steve is leveraging the few commodities that Japanese students eagerly desire to have from American's to place them in contact with faithful Christians. As a business leader Steve has developed a model of "faithful presence" that puts the Japanese in contact with American's to learn English and to give Steve and his team a relationship that is long-term and sustainable with these Japanese college students. He is leading entrepreneurial workshops for Japanese business leaders and venture capitalists.

Steve has launched the Megumi Iniative which includes Sekai Creator an entreprenurail training course for Japanese business leaders and Eigo Partner. On Wednesday Steve met up with our team in Tokyo to cast vision for us about his ministry. That conversation reminded me a whole lot of the vision casting Steve did two years earlier to his whole cohort at Retrain.

Honestly, I don't think I would have ended up in Japan this time if Steve hadn't been the first to call out the need of Japan to me. Sure I knew that Japan was out there, but I didn't have any sense of what it's spiritual condition or need was. Steve identified those needs to me. Now my adventure in Japan has come full circle with the vision Steve set forth two years ago. He has moved forward in accomplishing what God has called him to and he has helped me see a place that needs the gospel so deeply and is so unreached that I won't stop ringing the bell for mission work in Japan until that nation is reached.

I would like to ask you too to put your life and resources into the gospel-work being done in Japan. One of the ways you can do that is by supporting guys like Steve and others financially and with your time. You can support Steve financially by following this link. You can support his work with Eigo Partner by enlisting to be an English conversational partner.

I'm thankful for friends like Steve, thankful for his vision for Japan, and thankful that God allowed our lives in intersect two years ago in Seattle and then once again Wednesday in Tokyo.

First World Resources for First World Problems

One of the observations that I've been able to make while here in Japan is the complete lack of need for anything, except the gospel. Japan, like so many parts of the West doesn't have a need for the physical resources that developing countries do. You can drink the tap water, WiFi and cellular service are abundant. Japan has one of the lowest unemployment rates of anywhere in the world. We've heard several times that the average Japanese family has somewhere close to forty thousand dollars in savings alone. While not every person in Japan is affluent and rich, the physical needs of the country and not as noticeable as they are in other places.

So often, in the West we then assume that since this country has plenty in terms of material possessions that there is then no spiritual need. However, the lack of physical need, to me anyways, makes the spiritual need all the more pressing and abundant. They have come to the climax of the book of Ecclesiastes. They have everything but all of it apart from Christ is meaningless.

I have no beef to pick with churches that support and send and work with missionaries in developing countries. These are essential and needed. The gospel is for the whole world, especially the poor, orphaned and broken. However, as I have come to see, there is enough bandwidth for First World churches to reach First World countries. In fact, the burden of responsibility in my book is on countries like the United States to direct their resources in both people and finances towards these places that are so hard to reach.

Japan is expensive to live in. We stood in a small three bedroom apartment in Tokyo that cost $3600 a month to rent. The apartment was less than one thousand square feet. For a church in the middle Africa to send financial support and means to Japan just wouldn't work or be remotely enough. Yes that can be multiplied by the power of the Lord, but it seems to me that the provision Christ has given in the church is for wealthy nations to reach the most expensive, financially difficult place to reach. Christ has raised up First World churches for his glory, and he has gifted First World churches with financial resources to supply the mission to the First World countries like Japan. So let's do it.

As I met with Michael Oh, the CEO of the Lausanne Movement, today he made it abundantly clear that now is the time to financially resource the mission of God in Japan. Now is the time to put all our chips in and see the Lord of the Harvest go to work in bringing people from death to life. So let's do it. Let's be obedient to the call of God and give what we have for the sake of the gospel among the largest unreached people group in the world.

Jet Set Japan: Pre-Flight Checklist

Tomorrow morning the majority of our team from Journey the Way and Karis Community Church depart for Japan. While there we will be visiting several different cities, meeting numerous leaders and seeking to discern the Lord's calling and will for us as individuals and churches. The central mission for our team is to gain a sense of the movement of the Holy Spirit for planting churches and partnering with pastors and leaders already on the ground in Japan. As we depart here are a few ways you can pray for me and the team while we are away:

  • Pray for discernment, wisdom and spiritual understanding of the needs of Japan while we are there.
  • Pray for clarity in conversations and meetings with leaders in Japan.
  • Pray for mercy in our travel, health and engagement of the Japanese culture.
  • Pray for unity on our team.
  • Pray for a movement to grow of churches planting churches in one of the least reached countries of the world.
  • Pray for my family that is remaining behind in the U.S. while away.

Thanks for your prayers. I'll be posting frequent updates here while away but if you want to follow more of the action be sure to check out the Karis Japan page as well.

The Christian on Mission

What instruction did Luther give to Christians on how to bear witness to Christ?

If he is in a place where there are no Christians he needs no other call than to be a Christian… Here it is his duty to preach and to teach the gospel to non-Christians, because of the duty of brotherly love, even though no man calls him to do so.[1]

  1. Quoted in Church History in Missional Perspective, p. 26, The Porterbrook Network.  ↩

Using Nextdoor in my Neighborhood

Recently a post from Timmy Brister sparked my imagination about getting to know my neighbors better and having a digital means to know them and connect with them. Timmy states:

This is my mission field, I am renewing my commitment this year to be the best neighbor I can be and positively invest in the welfare of my city. One of the creative ways I’m seeking to do this is through an online platform called Nextdoor. Throughout this tool, I am gonna try to create a neighborhood where one does not exist and bring those around me together.

In response I started a Nextdoor site for my neighborhood and last night had the chance to share about it at my neighborhood association meeting. There were a lot of positive things said about it and the neighbors seemed genuinely excited about it's usefulness.  I am excited about it's usefulness for the sake of the gospel. That is all that good technology really is, means to advance the Kingdom.

I invite you to be on mission, create a Nextdoor neighborhood here, and get to know your neighbors for the sake of the gospel.

The Lewis & Clark Guide to Church Planting: Have a Clear Mission

Recently I have been leisure reading through Stephen Ambrose’s study of the exploration of Lewis & Clark, Undaunted Courage. Something about my own drive across half the continent over a month ago prompted me to read about the first group of travelers that did it over two hundred years ago. For those of you who are unfamiliar with American history, I would commend this book to you. It’s part adventure story, part travel-log, and like all history should be helpful for our own lives as we learn from the successes and failures of others.

As I have read some clear lessons (or best practices) have jumped out at me in relationship to church-planting and the advance of the gospel. On Tuesday’s I will relate some of what I have read with the much more glorious, and just as difficult task of church planting.

One my first misconceptions about Lewis & Clark was that they were two buddies of Davey Crockett and liked to explore and hike and ended up crossing the continent one day. No mission, no real goal, just out for a hike and one day, “Hey! Is that the Pacific Ocean?!” The reality however is that there was a clear and specific mission from the highest authority given to these two leaders.

In 1803 the United States, and more specifically, Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana territory from the French for a bargain price. But, unlike purchasing a home or land today, there was no pre-purchase inspection or appraisers that went out to tell you what condition the land you just bought was in. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that Jefferson bought the Louisiana territory sight-unseen.

So what did he have? He had to know. Hence Lewis & Clark. Jefferson wanted to know all about the rest of the continent. Scientifically, he wanted to know the botany, zoology, geography, and minerology of the Purchase. Politically, he wanted to set up relationships with the native Indian tribes and bring them into the realm of the United States. Economically, Jefferson was looking for a way to monopolize the fur trade in the North Pacific and undercut the British operating in southern Alberta and Manitoba.

Yet the biggest question and the main purpose of the mission was to answer the question that everyone in the world had been guessing and rumoring about since the discovery of the New World. Was there an all-water route from one coast to the other? Could someone get on a boat in St. Louis and, by boat go all the way up the Missouri River and then hop out and jump into another boat and cruise down the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean?

Jefferson's charge to Lewis & Clark was straight forward and clear; find the best route to the Pacific, survey the land and peoples, and document everything!

Now what does this have to do with church planting? Essentially, it comes down to the purpose. Why do we plant churches? Did a couple of guys get up one morning and decide to start preaching and singing and just have a church because it sounded like a cool idea? Many might have that perspective in planting a church, but it won’t be effective.

We have to know our purpose! We must clearly know what the mission is and let that be the guiding focus for us. There were so many things that Lewis & Clark could have done on their voyage. Yet their fidelity to the mission kept them on task and let them be able to say “no” to good things that weren’t necessary or even harmful to the overall mission.

Do you know the mission? Do you know what Christ has sent all believers out into the world to carry out? Will you be obedient to the King who has called and is sending us out on mission? Just as Lewis & Clark were under orders from the President of the United States, so we are under orders of the King over all kings. And just as Jefferson made it abundantly clear to Lewis & Clark regarding the purpose of their mission, so Jesus has made it crystal clear to his people what their mission is.

"All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18–19). That's the mission. Make disciples! Are you on obediently living on mission?

Why I Cried Watching YouTube

My pastor emailed me this video clip today of a "random act of culture" that occurred in a Philadelphia Macy's store a couple of weeks ago.  It brought me to tears.  Literally.  First the video, then I'll explain the tears...


Now why cry over that?  Maybe because I'm a bit tired today (a 3 year old waking you up for "brexfixt" at 4:30am and then barfing on you at 5:45am has a tendency to do that).  But really I was struck by a crowd, no, a city singing "He shall reign forever and ever."  Think of it.  A city together singing of the rightful reign and rule of God the Father through His Son, Jesus.

It's one thing for a city to sing it, it's quite another for a city to believe and live it.  And that is why I started crying.  These words are true, the Lord God Omnipotent does reign.  But I long to see "the kingdom of this world become the Kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ."  I long to see my life, and this world fully transformed and submitting joyfully to the reign and rule of Jesus in all things.  I long for sin, Satan and death to be destroyed forever and for peace to abound and joy to increase because Jesus reigns forever and ever.  I cried because I heard in song a vision of Jesus' sovereign reign over all things, and I long to see it happen!  I long to see the lost repent and turn to Jesus and find their hope and joy in Him alone. 

That's why I cried.  I want to see the Kingdom of God.  Until that day, "the gospel must be proclaimed to all nations" (Mark 13:10)  And so we go and joyfully proclaim "Hallelujah, The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth."

The Church as Destination

This is a great article from Yancey Arrington... be careful how you think about the church!

To examine the church in the New Testament is to witness God’s people on mission for the Gospel. Church is seen as an identity – who we are (a Gospel Community) – which informs our activity (a Gospel Mission).

However, the pervasive perspective today on church is something more akin to Disneyland. Church is seen as a destination, an end-point, a place we simply go on Sundays. This ‘church as destination’ viewpoint can cultivate in us harmful ways to think about church.

When the church is a destination…

It feeds our consumer mentality. Think about a trip to Disneyland. We evaluate it based on what we get out it, not what we put into it. Were the rides fun, did they meet my need for excitement, did they greet me well, did I have to spend a lot of money, etc.? Destination-understanding does the same with church. Church becomes ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on how we felt about the sermon, the song selection, the fact whether or not we were warmly greeted and other aspects of our experience that Sunday morning.

Church  becomes just one more thing in life that exists to entertain us or meet our demands. But the church is about the people who compose it living on mission in the world. In other words, the church is not about just coming together but being sent out.

Church is more like a soldier’s experience at Fort Hood than a Mickey Mouse fanatic at Disneyland. Troops arrive at Fort Hood knowing they will be encouraged, trained and equipped in order to ultimately be sent out to their real destination. The mission is not at Fort Hood but somewhere else. The same is true of church. The real destination of the church’s mission lies not within the four walls of the building but outside of it.

God’s mission is best accomplished not when we come to church but when we leave it. Destination-oriented thinking loses sight of this critical truth.

It provides a false definition of faithfulness. Growing up I would say a faithful church member was one who regularly attended Sunday services. Since I saw church as merely a destination, I gave people the same marks I’d give to those who make an annual pilgrimage to Orlando or Anaheim. Some are faithful to church. Some are faithful to Disneyland. When something’s just a destination, attendance is the metric.

But if the church is really a people on Gospel mission in the world it seems rather ridiculous to consider attendance as the true mark of fidelity. Attendance indicates that a person has mastered the art of sitting (maybe even singing and listening as well). It doesn’t indicate how well they are trying to reach the community where they live, how hard they work to display the Gospel in all areas of their life or the amount of time they’ve spent in prayer on behalf of those far from Christ.

Think again about a soldier and Fort Hood. Do commanding officers ultimately base the fidelity of soldiers on their presence at boot camp or their execution of the mission once upon the battle field? Pretty easy answer. Church should no different.

Faithfulness is best evidenced not by what people do inside the church Sunday morning but what people do outside the church the Monday through Saturday.

It contributes to compartmentalization of life. Church as destination leads Christians to think that ‘church’ is more a place you go than a mission you live out. It’s a place like school, work and the gym are places – different segments which have a life of their own. Thus we have a work life, school life and now…church life. As such, we come to church on Sunday (for church life, of course) then leave the doors to go back to the real world. Complicating this is the idea, like Disneyland, church is the place we go to escape from the real world. We go to church, live briefly in that world for an hour or two every month or so then return to reality. Everything is compartmentalized. Church is left in a nice but fairly impotent box: church world…or even worse, church fantasy world.

But when church is seen as living out the Gospel mission in the world, the compartments of our thinking begin to break down. Like Fort Hood, I begin to see Sunday mornings as helping me to better live out the mission of God in the world. Not the fantasy world but the real world. Church becomes a type of spiritual boot camp that is integral for the real world, not independent of it. In other words, there is no church world/real world dichotomy. The mission tells me they are one and the same. I am sent by Jesus for Jesus into all areas of my life for his Kingdom’s sake. That is the mission.

Church isn’t just a place I go, it isn’t just something I do on Sunday mornings from time to time. It is who I am. Is is who we are.

So how do you see church?

"I don't want to build a museum..."

[vimeo w=500&h=281]

Everyone once in a while a little video clip or a book hit me right in the heart.  This trailer for Darrin Patrick's new book Church Planter is a clear shot across the bow for me. Legacies don't need to be left behind, leaders do. It's time to move, not build museums.   


Building a Heavenly City - Part 2: City Life Is In the Neighborhoods

Recently it has become a favorite activity for my wife and I to take friends and go down to San Francisco for a day. Often we park at Ghirardelli Square and then take the cable cars down to Union Square or to Chinatown. I always enjoy riding through the different neighborhoods on the way and seeing the distinctions between them and the commonality even that they share. What never fails to escape me is that there is life in the city. There is activity in the city. But the City as a whole is engaged in lots of different activities. In fact only on a few occasions does the entire city come together to do something. It might be something like a sporting event (a Giants game for instance) or a parade (think Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC) but it isn't often that the entire city is doing everything together. Yet the city is always active, and it is always active in the neighborhoods.

I think far to many churches program "church life" at the city level. We have Sunday services, outreach events, church-wide children's ministries, Bible studies, and on and on I could go listing events or programs that the church plans with the expectation that every member of the body (more or less) will be involved with. What this creates then is a dichotomy where church members must reorganize their life around the city so that the mission of the city can go forward. This creates stress, anxiety, and often a consumer mentality as Christians begin to pick and choose what they will be involved with and how they will serve or not serve within the church. Many times what happens is a Christian gets frustrated with the attempts to balance "personal life" or "family life" with "church life" and the Christian ends up pairing down "church life" to merely Sunday morning services.

Here is where a shift needs to occur. Our churches need to stop programing and practicing everything at the "city" level and begin to allow and assist in the formation of Gospel Communities. We need to devolve down to the level where small communities within the larger church can plan and structure their lives around one another with Gospel intentionality. Instead of always expecting the hired staff of the church to be the primary ones that do the hospital visitation, counseling, discipleship, etc. small communities of believers could do the work of caring for one another, bearing each others burdens, discipleship together.

I'll unpack this more in my next post, but the issue must be of moving the emphasis of the life of the church from the "city" level back to the neighborhoods. As Augustine of Hippo said, "the life of the city is a social life."

Building a Heavenly City - Part 1: The Church As Kingdom, City, Neighborhood

Off and on over the next few weeks I am going to run a series of posts on some thinking I've been doing about how the local church can (and I think should) be more effective at the task of the advance of the Gospel.  My intention is not to spell out a rule book of what the church must do, but to offer a perspective that I think most churches in the West today don't have. Today we start with the framework.

The Church As Kingdom, City, and Neighborhood

Follow me on this line of thought for a bit.  Globally alongside the visible reality of the world and it's nations and kingdoms and kings stands the invisible Kingdom of Christ which is aimed and covering the entire globe as Jesus gathers to Himself a people from every tongue, tribe and nation.  The distinctive reality of the Kingdom is a people who have been freed from their sin by the blood of Christ and have bowed their knee to the reign of Christ in all things.  That's the global reality of the church.  Some theologians call this the "Church invisible." 

Yet within the kingdom there are local, visible outposts of subjects to King Jesus.  They are called local churches.  The function of the local church is to be a City in the Kingdom advancing the Kingdom through the proclamation of the Gospel.  These cities have a common identity and a common mission: advance the Kingdom.  Furthermore each city is distinct in its various culture and size, yet all Kingdom Cities are to have a common purpose.  Some cities are large, some are small.  That's okay - the matter of importance is that the Kingdom City is making an impact on the local city to advance the Gospel.  

The question then becomes how does the City get built?  I believe that most physical cities were built, and continue to be built around neighborhoods.  For instance if you were to travel to the largest city in my area, San Francisco you would look at it as a large city, but upon spending any amount of time in the city you would see various neighborhoods.  There is Chinatown, The Marina District, Mission Bay, Haight-Ashbury, Nob Hill and others.  Each one of those neighborhoods would say they are part of the city of San Francisco and yet each of those neighborhoods embodies a distinct culture, size, economic quality, and on and on.  Yet they are all San Francisco.  San Francisco as a city grew out of the growth and development of neighborhoods. 

My point is that church growth, and more directly the advance of the Gospel hinges on the growth and establishment of Gospel Communities or "Kingdom Neighborhoods."  Small groups of people living in community together formed by the Gospel for the Gospel.  What is attractive to the lost about our churches is not so much the City aspect of it (although that might play a part) - but it is the neighborhoods within the church that the Mission is advanced.   If we are to reach the real cities of our world, we must begin by planting Kingdom Neighborhoods that can embody the Gospel in life and in word and reach the cultures of their physical location.  

We must stop thinking of evangelism, discipleship and ministry as some sort of individualistic project and start seeing that Gospel Communities must be on mission together, they must disciple and do the work of the ministry together.  They must live intentionally together and embody the Gospel together.  They must live as a neighborhood for the City in the city.  

No Such Thing...

... as the spiritual gift of "evangelism."  Or so says Ed Stetzer.  After making that statement last week I have been thinking on his claim there and trying to match that up against the Scriptures.  Do you know what I have discovered?  I think he is right.  The term "evangelist" is used only three times in the NT.  Once in Acts in reference to Philip (Acts 21:8), once in Paul's second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5) and once in Ephesians 4.  

The Ephesians 4 passage is usually the one that the argument for the spiritual gift of evangelist is promoted.  But I would argue that the four "gifts" that are spoken there are not spiritual gifts but are spiritual roles that God has gifted to the church for the maturing of the saints.  The Apostles were the eye witnesses of Jesus and His resurrection, the founding leaders of the Church.  The prophets were those speakers for God in the early church's witness and expansion.  The evangelist were those who specifically planted churches and labored to see the Gospel spread.  The pastor-teachers are those who are laboring to shepherd a congregation through the ministry of the Word.  These are roles, not spiritual gifts.

Now what does that say about evangelism?  We have got to get around this stupid idea that there is some elite class of Christians who have the ability to bring the world to their knees by their amazing methodology of sharing their faith.  We have to get it out of our minds that only 10% of the church has the gift of evangelism.  

We have to get it into our heads that we are to be evangelists!  Paul's words to Timothy are as applicable to us today as they were then.  The church has to be about "doing the work of an evangelist."   We must get it into our heads and lives that to be obedient as a follower of Christ I am called to proclaim my faith.  All of us are!  If you claim to be a Christian get on mission and start talking about the Gospel.  

In that way there is no such thing as the spiritual gift of evangelism, there is a Church of people who are called to be evangelists.  Every single one of them!

The Gospel is Intentional

"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 ESV)

Recently I have been processing through this issue of the advance of the Gospel and my own intentionality to it.  Frankly I'm pretty poor at being intentional with the Gospel.  For many evangelicals today we think that being intentional with the Gospel means leaving a tract at the table with a meager tip for the waitress.  Or we believe that we have been faithful to the Gospel when we stand on a street corner and preach to all those who walk by for hours on end (who still does that?).  I'm not saying that those things aren't effective, but I think there has to be a better way to be intentional with the Gospel.

I think that starts by taking a view of where I live.  Do I know my neighbors? Do I spend time with them?  Are we building direct, involved, intentional relationships with the people that immediately surround us where we live, or are we just occupying a house so that no one around will bother us?  The Gospel is intentional.  I must be too.