A large portion of my daily thoughts regarding Crosspoint International Ministries revolves around what we call our philosophy of ministry. If you were to ask those closest to me, they might tell you that there are times they wish I would talk about something else! But, in all reality, strategy is extremely important, even critical to what we do. If there is anything you should know about this ministry, it is that everything we do is done with a purpose; everything we do, every team we send, every person on the field and every dollar spent are a strategic piece of a much larger puzzle. When we plan, we look at goals we want to accomplish in one year, five years or ten years and then we work backwards to see exactly what we need to do to get there. We look at the sustainable impact of what each step and each team accomplishes. We are constantly asking ourselves “Will what we do today make a difference in people’s lives tomorrow?” If not, then we must rethink our strategy to make sure what we do today will change lives for God’s glory long after each of us are gone.
Too often in international short-term volunteer missions we have all been guilty of going into a community with the best intentions of doing the right thing, making sure that each member of our team gets to hand out food or a Bible and we see people smile and then we board the bus with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. No doubt many of those we see accept Christ, may do so under the presumption that they must go along in order to receive their gift and when we leave there is no one to help them understand their decision or disciple them to grow. Sadly to say, though lives may be changed for a day or two, rarely does our contribution make an impact for much longer. Not always, but many times that lack of impact is due to the fact that we bypass the most important ingredient in God’s plan – The Local Church!
At Crosspoint International our philosophy of ministry is that God only has one plan to reach the world and that is through the local church. Therefore, as a ministry, we are called to use our resources to help nurture and grow the local church in each area where we work. In other words, we are called to help the local church become what God has called it to be: A healthy, functioning, reproducing body of Christ that is meeting the needs of its community both spiritual and physical. When the church is healthy, growing and reproducing itself by planting other churches, when it is reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, when it is a lamp bringing light to the darkness surrounding it, then (and only then) have we done our job. When we, as a ministry, are no longer needed by a particular local church then our efforts are a complete success!
So how do we go about helping the church to fulfill its calling? We train! A big part of our calendar year involves training conferences for pastors, lay leaders and administrative personnel. We utilize skilled people both indigenous and otherwise to teach about developing a vision and strategic planning. We teach leadership and communication skills. We teach administrative policies and procedures. We work to help pastors obtain theological education and resources to insure they are grounded in doctrine. We help them to understand that they must reproduce and plant other churches that will, in turn, reproduce themselves. We exhort! Many times pastors and congregations just need a word of encouragement, a helping hand, someone to gently guide. We join in the work! Every year we have teams come to join hands with a local congregation and say “we’re here to help your church win this city to Christ!” In short, our ministry uses a multitude of approaches to undergird the local church in reaching its community. In addition to training these include evangelism teams, medical teams, construction teams, sports ministry teams and a myriad of others, all focused on allowing the local church to draw from our resources to accomplish its mission but at the same time not creating an unhealthy dependency.
As I read through Paul’s letter to the Philippians the other day, I saw something I had never seen before. Instead of rushing through the customary greetings and salutations that are so common to Paul’s letters, I focused on his genuine love and concern for the church. I focused on his prayer that they may have knowledge and discernment or, as the Holman translation put it – “so that you can determine what really matters…” (Phil 1:10a) Wow! That is my prayer! Not only for the churches that we work with but for this ministry as well. We need to determine what really matters! Is it seeking goals for our own glory? No way! Is it creating projects that have no eternal significance? I don’t think so. Is it planning events that give everyone that warm fuzzy feeling when they leave? Probably not. What really matters is that God is glorified by the lost coming to know Jesus as their Savior, growing in knowledge and grace and that happens when His church is healthy, growing and fulfilling the Great Commission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Amen!