Live Sent: An Awareness

livesentIn the first two parts of this series I introduced you to the thought of living Sent. Jesus sent His Son into the world for a specific reason: to make the Father known and to show us how to know Him. Sent people are sensitive people. As we go about our daily business as spokesmen for the King and messengers of the gospel, it is important we take time to look around and see what is happening around us. Two areas deserve our sensitivity. 

1. The Condition of People.

When it comes to seeing the condition of people and responding correctly, Jesus is our model. We see an example in Matthew’s gospel:

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:35-36)

We see how Jesus viewed people in His day. Matthew used words and phrases such as “weary”, “scattered”, and “without a shepherd” to describe them. As we push through our daily lives we need to be sensitive to the condition of the people with whom we share parts of our days. We need to be sensitive to the fact that, although things may look good on the surface, inside people are hurting, lonely, scared, and hopeless. We need to be sensitive to the fact that nearly three out of four people in North America are lost without Christ.

Being sensitive to other people may at times require us to enter their world. Again, Jesus is our model. He was not afraid to associate with those with complicated and messy lives. The hurting need to be seen, and when seen, cared for. Jesus did not give His life for a building, a denomination, nor a program. He gave His life for people. Shouldn’t we look at others with the same sensitivity?

2. The Movement of God.

I believe we have become slaves to a routine. I believe we have become prisoners to a programmed life. I believe we have become captive to our calendars. I believe we try to subconsciously schedule the movement of God in a way that suits us. I wonder if God Himself has our permission to shake up, rearrange, and stir our lives? I think about the apostle Paul’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s reordering of his personal plans:

7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us (Acts 16:7-9).

What now?

  1. Pray for a brokenness over the condition of those in our communities that are hurting.
  2. Intentionally come along side someone you know who is hurting and be a friend.
  3. Ensure your plans are not set in stone. Allow the Holy Spirit permission to move you.

Live Sent: An Introduction


We are all given one life to lo live. Along with that life come certain unwritten rules. First, there are no do-overs. Life is not a game of golf. There is no such thing as a mulligan. We do not have the luxury of going back to the beginning to start over. Second, there are no extras. Life is not a video game where you earn extra life based on performance. Third, there are no extensions. It was Job who, speaking of man, said, “His days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits so that he cannot pass.” Lastly, there are no substitutions. Life is not a game of football where other players can play in the place of another. You cannot live for another and they cannot live for you. With these rules clearly in view, how we live the one life we have been given is of the utmost importance.

The way a person lives their life is a personal choice. A life can be lived cautiously or recklessly. It can be lived productively or destructively. I can be lived privately or publicly. Are there guidelines in place to govern how to live this one life? Absolutely. Exhortation exists for the Christian to remember their Creator, to allow God to direct their paths, to find rest in the Good Shepherd, to seek the good and welfare of others before yourself, to forgive as we have been forgiven, and to trust in the fact that through Jesus Christ it is possible to live a life that is pleasing to God.

I believe an often-overlooked directive for a Christian’s life is found in the Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer of John seventeen. Here that we see Jesus praying to His Father for the world to know Him through His life. As He prays to His Father, He also speaks of how He envisions each follower should live out their non-extendable, non-repeatable, and non-transferable life. His words of verse eighteen are simple yet powerful, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” This verse highlights the believer’s mission to this world: Live Sent. This week we will examine what it means to live sent.

Missional Monday: The Wisdom of Considering Your Community’s Calendar

mmCalendars reflect priorities. They reflect what an individual or an organization chooses to do with its time – a precious commodity. Most churches have a master calendar that contains all ministry events, facility reservations, service times, and ongoing ministries to its membership and others. Churches have leadership groups whose responsibility it is to coordinate these activities. An important task in planning is to ensure as little overlap as possible. The last thing a church needs is to schedule multiple ministry opportunities on the same day that cause the people to have to choose. There is another calendar, a calendar often overlooked by churches – the community calendar. Local communities have a calendar that lists events, news, festivals, and other functions unique to them. Town and city councils publish these calendars far enough ahead to the ensure the residents can participate.

Why does this matter? For far too long the church and its community have been content to exist and function as if they have no need for each other. This is simply not true. If a church believes their community matters, the two should work together as often as possible. The church needs the community. The community is the place and the people into which God has planted the church as agents of light and ministers of grace. God has called His people to their community to flavor and influence it positively with the good news of the gospel. The community needs the church. Whether they acknowledge it or not does not negate the truth. The community needs the influence and care the local church offers. The community needs the church to serve it and make a difference.

Please hear me closely. I am not advocating allowing the secular community to determine the actions and direction of the church. I do not believe that would be wise. I am certain the community would not allow the church to determine its activities and direction. Does the church have a responsibility to be involved in the life of their local community? Absolutely. Can both parties benefit when this happens? No doubt.

I have given a great deal of thought to this and the what I have found has shaped my ministry philosophy. When planning ministry opportunities, the church should consider what is happening in the community at that time. The purpose is to determine the possibility of the church’s involvement. When there are special events in the community, the church would do well to seek ways to involve itself. As the church involves itself in the everyday life of the community, trust is built and relationships are formed.

The goal for the church as it relates to the community is to be an agent of change and hope through the message of the gospel of Christ. When the community sees the church cares about the people and their future with no strings attached, credibility is earned. Must the community acknowledge the church for the church to be credible? Of course not. Jesus Christ established the New Testament Church and needs no secular approval. However, the old saying is true here, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Credibility is a bridge by which the gospel travels. Consistent involvement is necessary if we hope to make a difference and a lasting mark on the community where the church has been planted. Why compete when we can cooperate?


Missional Monday: Missional Voices

mmI hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live an on-mission lifestyle. Enjoy.

Read:  I recommend The Hole in Our Gospel; What Does God Expect of Us? by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. It is the true story of a corporate CEO who gave up worldly success for something far more satisfying. God’s calling on his life removed him from his corner office at one America’s most prestigious companies and allowed him to walk with the poorest of the poor in our world. His journey demonstrates how the gospel – the whole gospel – was meant to change lives and make people whole in Christ.

Follow:  Tim Rice. Tim is the Missions Mobilization Director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He is passionate about assisting individuals and churches to live missionally and engage their communities, state, and the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know Tim personally and you will be both encouraged and challenged by what he shares with others. You can find him at @timricesc

Get to Know: The Sunshine Girls – a weekly outreach ministry to women who work in the Adult Entertainment Industry in Savannah, Georgia. Their goal is to shine the life-changing light of the Gospel into these dark places. The mission of the organization revolves around establishing relationships and opportunities for another way of life. You can learn more about them here. Pray for the work these women are doing in some very hard and dark places. I am thankful to know one of these Sunshine Girls personally.

Missional Monday: Missional Voices

mmI am thankful for the many voices, resources, institutions, and ministries who are assisting the local church to live out a missional lifestyle. The purpose of Missional Monday is to raise awareness and foster conversations (whether here or elsewhere) around the need for the New Testament churches to be missionaries where they are. I regularly share my own thoughts about this subject, but mine is not the only one. Because we are involved in kingdom work, I want to connect the readers here to others who are speaking on the subject of missional living. I hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live mission lifestyles. Enjoy.

Read:  I recommend Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission by Larry E. McCrary. As God calls missionaries to the field, they develop the necessary skill-sets for a cultural translation of the Gospel. Tradecraft pulls back the curtain on tools once accessible only to full-time Christian workers – tools that will enable the local church to be more effective in its ministry to the community.

Follow:  Henry Criss. Henry is the Lead Pastor of Ridgeland Baptist Church in Ridgeland, SC.  His approach to the revitalization work he has been called to is encouraging and insightful. You can follow him here – @HenryCriss.

Get to Know: Pure Water, Pure Love. PWPL is an initiative of the National Women’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention. The primary goal of PWPL is to provide missionaries with water filters and the people they serve with wells that offer clean water, free of disease and contamination. PWPL provides thousands of water filters to missionary families and helps fund clean water projects. You can read more here.

Missional Monday : Go Fish Clothing and Jewelry Co.

A few weeks ago, Terri and I were shopping along the waterfront area of downtown Beaufort. While walking along Bay Street, we happened across as a little storefront, Go Fish® Clothing and Jewelry. The name captured my attention and we went inside. We noticed there were many kinds of handmade items from artisans all around world, including hand-crafted wooden animals, blown glass figurines, hand-made clothing, and all types of jewelry. Alongside each display was a portrait of the family who had made the product, as well as a description of the country in which the family lives. Go Fish® purchases the items that are sold in stores from the indigenous peoples of developing nations. The prices that are paid for the items are never argued. Merchandise is bought at the family’s asking price. The mission of Go Fish® is to give the indigenous people dignity and respect by highlighting their creativity and skill, while providing a sustainable livelihood for the family. I found it refreshing that amid stores selling everything from swimsuits to real estate, a company living out its missional calling exists. You can read more about Go Fish® and their work here.

Missional Monday : What Others Are Saying

mmI am thankful for the many voices, resources, institutions, and ministries which are actively assisting the church and her people today to out a missional lifestyle. As our communities, cities, states, and nation evolve before our very eyes, it becomes more critical every day that the local church be the missionary for the gospel in their field. I hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live mission lifestyles.

Read: Missional Moves by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder. This book describes fifteen “shifts” that have the capacity to alter our understanding of the church and how its mission is carried out in the world.

Follow: Dr. Thom Rainer. Dr. Rainer is the president of Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of the books Simple Church, The Unchurched Next Door, I Am a Church Member, and Autopsy of a Deceased Church among many others. Dr. Rainer consistently publishes articles and blog posts that deal with church, pastoral, and ministry related issues. He is the consummate encourager. You can read his work here or give him a follow on Twitter – @ThomRainer

Meet: Heifer International. Their purpose is to “empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity”. Heifer brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to communities with a long history of poverty. This happens through the provision of farm animals that provide both food and reliable income in the form of agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey that can be traded or sold at market. Families in turn pass on farm animals to other communities who have similar need. This sustainable income brings opportunities for building school and funding small businesses. You can find them here or give them a follow on Twitter – @Heifer

FYI: Statistics speak loudly.

According to the American Psychological Association, the top five ways in which teens today deal with stress are: play video games (46%), social media (43%), exercise (37%), watch TV (36%), and play sports (28%). What’s missing?

According to LifeWay Research, 46% of Americans say their religious beliefs impact their daily work.

According to Barna Research, 79% of practicing Christians say they want to know how their faith speaks to current issues they face.

According to LifeWay Research, 59% of churchgoers attend some type of small group Bible study at least once.

Monday is for Missions : VBS, Pastorally Speaking

AgencyAgencyD3_Badge-4color D3 is in the books. The investigation of the evidence surrounding the person of Jesus Christ has been completed. As I walked around the church building this past Sunday morning, I could not help but think that it looked as if Vacation Bible School had never happened. No more colorful decorations and screaming children. Vacation Bible School makes for a very long week around the church. If you take into account the weeks leading up to the actual teaching week, many long, long hours have been logged over the past three weeks. I heard one of our workers say this past week, “There is tired and then there is Vacation Bible School tired.” This is absolutely true. Although it is physically and emotionally draining, it is worth it. When it comes to Vacation Bible School, I’m all in. I’m sold on its ministry value. I fully understand how important this week is in the life and overall ministry of the church. Now that Vacation Bible School 2014 is over, allow me to make a few observations.

1. Attendance: For better or worse, this is often the marker by which Vacation Bible School is judged as a success or a failure. I am not completely sold on this. I am not exactly sure what our average attendance was for the week. I do know that is was down from last year. Although lower, I was encouraged by our attendance. I know that may sound odd. My reason for being encouraged is not so much about how many, but who was here. It is obvious that our people were active in inviting others this week. I know this because as the kids passed through the Missions Rotation that I was leading, they wanted me to meet their friends they had brought with them. Again this year our students met the same week as our children. I was encouraged to see the largest number in Youth VBS than I had seen in years, about 16 each night. This does not count the high school students who were assisting in other areas. We had the children who were members of other churches. That is perfectly fine. We are happy to have them for a week. We also had students who were unchurched and not affiliated with a local church. This is one of the markers by which I judge success. If I can answer the question “Were we able to have children with no church affiliation on campus with us for a week and be exposed to the gospel?” positively, then we were successful. Our Adult VBS was not only made up of our own church members. One of goals in Adult Vacation Bible School is to give parents who are not involved in a local church a place to go instead of dropping their children off and going home. We accomplished our goal here. Parents had the opportunity to interact and meet other people in a non-threatening manner and be exposed to the gospel message. I believe this was a success as well.

2. Volunteers: I am thankful to all of the volunteers who worked this week. As I mentioned earlier, it was a long week. It was also very hot. I am especially thankful and grateful to all of our teachers who worked full-time jobs who left work and came straight to church for five straight days. I want to especially mention and thank those who worked in the kitchen all week. During our Vacation Bible School, we skip the Snack Rotation. Instead, we choose to provide a meal for parents, children, and workers every night. Our kitchen workers came out early, set everything up, served the kids, and stayed until all was cleaned up. This year we had many new faces working in Vacation Bible School. This is always a good thing. I say to all of our 30 plus workers, thank you. I also want to thank the summer student missionaries who are a part of the Savannah River Baptist Association Low Country Ministries who came out and helped with our big kick-off event. To all those who worked so hard, your pastor wants you to know that you are appreciated.

3. Ministry: Any time you have kids on campus you have an opportunity to be engaged in real, one-on-one, life-changing ministry. It was good to be able to spend some time with these kids one on one. During our Worship Rally, our students take up an offering each night. There is anticipated and spirit-filled battle between boys and girls to see who can raise the most money for our designate ministry cause. This gives us an opportunity to further educate our students on the importance of missions. I am excited to report that this year we raised almost $300 for M28 Church in Atlanta, a North American Mission Board church plant that we have the pleasure to partner with. To the best of my knowledge we did not have any public professions of faith. I can’t explain it in human reasoning. For many who read this, you might say we failed as a church in Vacation Bible School. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are here to share a message and plant a seed, understanding that it is God who gives the increase. We trust God’s Word knowing that it will not return unto Him void. Real ministry takes place when you take time to listen, talk to, and show love toward a child in the name of Christ. This is what we did this week. If down the road a year or two or five, in God’s timing, a gospel presentation is given and a child responds because of something that was planted in their heart this week, then we were faithful to have done our part.

Overall, we had a great week and look forward to what comes out of the efforts of this week. Again I want to thank every teacher, worker, and parent who allowed their child to be a part of our Vacation Bible School. We are eagerly looking forward to Lifeway’s VBS 2015; “Journey Off the Map” in only eleven short months.

Monday is for Missions : What Will You Do This Summer?

mmMy favorite time of the year – summer, has arrived. Summers here are the best. Sure it’s hot, but we have the beautiful beaches. Sure it’s hot, but we have the soothing sea breeze. Summers are certainly a time for vacations and sun, for rest and relaxation. Summers are certainly not a time for taking a break from the ministry work of your church. In fact, there are many opportunities for service throughout the summer for the Port Royal Baptist Church family. I encourage you to find a place of service and give it everything you have. To volunteer for any of these opportunities, look for the sign-up sheets at the church or you can go to and click on the “volunteer” tab to sign up. As you find ways to cool off this summer, don’t allow your missional spirit to cool off. Here’s what’s available.

June 7th and 21st : Port Royal Farmers Market

What could be better than cold water on a hot day? How about free cold water? Please join us as we set up at the Port Royal Farmers Market (directly across the street from the church) and give away free cold water to our community as they visit and shop at the market. Times of ministry will be 8:00am-12:00pm. You may sign up for a little as an hour or you may spend as much time as you like.

June 16th : Migrant VBS at St. Helena Baptist Church

Each year, St. Helena Baptist Church and Baptist Church of Beaufort come together to provide a Vacation Bible School for the migrant workers / families on St Helena Island. Each night, churches volunteer to cook the evening meal. We will be cooking on Monday, June 16th beginning at 4:00pm.

June 21st : Vacation Bible School Kick-Off

Please join us on the front lawn of the church from 11:00am – 1:00pm as we host a community outreach event that kicks off our Vacation Bible School. There will be food, bouncers, popcorn, sno-cones, and other fun and games.

June 22nd – 26th : Vacation Bible School

The theme for this year’s VBS is “Agency D3 : Discover, Decide, Defend”. Kids will move through rotation sites such Bible Study, Crafts, Missions, and Music all the while discovering who Jesus Christ is. Times will be 6:00pm – 8:30pm nightly. Supper will be served at 5:15pm each night. Please join us and invite someone to come with you.

July 6th : Independence Day Celebration

Independence Day is a major family holiday. Please join us on Sunday afternoon for a time of fun and fellowship. Activities will begin at 3:00pm with a horseshoe tournament. There will also be games for the children. We will then have a cookout with hamburgers and hot dogs at 5:00pm.

July 10th : Cookout at Hunting Island State Park

Each summer, in conjuction with the Savannah River Baptist Association, we choose a day and cook lunch for the all the staff at Hunting Island State Park. This is a simple way for us to simply say thank you for their service to the community. At 11:00am, we will be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, along with all the trimmings for a noon lunch.

July 12th and 26th : Port Royal Farmers Market

What could be better than cold water on a hot day? How about free cold water? Please join us as we set up at the Port Royal Farmers Market (directly across the street from the church) and give away free cold water to our community as they visit and shop at the market. Times of ministry will be 8:00am-12:00pm. You may sign up for a little as an hour or you may spend as much time as you like.

August 5th : National Night Out at Stuart Towne Apartments

This is a relatively new ministry opportunity for us, only out third year. We are partnering with the national crime prevention program called National Night Out. Our church will be hosting a block party for the residents of our partner multi-housing unit, Stuart Towne. Along with the food, games, and bounce houses, we will have personal and family safety messages from local police and fire departments. Activities will begin at 6:00pm and conclude at 8:00pm.

August 16th and 30th : Port Royal Farmers Market

What could be better than cold water on a hot day? How about free cold water? Please join us as we set up at the Port Royal Farmers Market (directly across the street from the church) and give away free cold water to our community as they visit and shop at the market. Times of ministry will be 8:00am-12:00pm. You may sign up for a little as an hour or you may spend as much time as you like.

When is a Missions Offering Not Really a Missions Offering?

Disclaimer: The thoughts, beliefs, and conclusions drawn belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Port Royal Baptist Church. The concerns expressed here by the author have been previously discussed with associational leadership.

The Baptist association of which our church is a member of has an annual missions offering. This offering was established in 1992 in honor of a former Home Mission Board (North American Mission Board) missionary and Director of Missions. This namesake believed greatly in the importance of church-planting. Every year our association sets aside one week in order to promote and collect this offering. Sound good so far? On the surface, yes.

When is a missions offering not really a missions offering? The answer: when it is not used exclusively for mission work. Let me explain. When our current missions offering was established, the council recommending its creation did so with a troubling stipulation. The council wrote, “we further recommend that the proceeds of this offering be dedicated to the general associational missions budget to supplement the gifts of the churches.” Since 1992, except for the few years when a former Director of Missions arbitrarily designated portions of the offering, we have had, in essence, a “catch-up” offering that is counted as income toward our overall operating budget.

Why does this matter? Some would say that it doesn’t. I would dare say that to some of our member churches it does not matter at all. It matters because of our member churches deserve better. Allow me to explain further. The current method of promoting, collecting, and distributing our missions offering is flawed in at least two ways.

1. The current structure makes education and promotion at the church level problematic.

When I as the pastor of a church stand before God’s people and ask them to support and give to a specific cause or need, they deserve to know, to the very best of our ability, what their gift is supporting. Currently, our missions offering is forwarded to the general operating budget. It is true that portions of this offering do find their way to real missions needs. It is also true that portions of the offering support things such as lawn care, copy/printing, salaries, electricity, insurance, and other non-missions items. Our offering does not exclusively support missions and mission work. If one of my church member asks this question, “What does our associational missions offering support?” I have no choice but to give an ambiguous answer that has to be extensively qualified. Instead of an answer such as “our offering supports A, B, or C”, the answer looks more like, “our offering goes into A where it is disbursed to all budgeted items”.

2. The current structure lessens the importance of the offering itself.

The idea that a missions offering exists to “supplement” the gifts of the churches seems, at least to me, to be counterproductive. As a member church, we give a percentage of our receipts to our association for its general operation and existence. The majority of our member churches do likewise. This legal “double-dipping” seems to diminish and lessen the importance and impact of the offering itself. Some say that “it’s all missions”. Simply not true. Others say, “We need to have lights, or we need to have a building”. This may be true, but that is the purpose of our monthly contributions and not a missions offering. A missions offering should never be used to cover shortfalls or cover operating expenses. As those in the pews learn how the offering is distributed, I am afraid that they will see it for what it really is and choose not give at all.

When is a missions offering not really a missions offering? The answer: when it is not used exclusively for mission work. If our season Southern Baptist missions offerings were allocated the same way our associational missions offering is, I believe there would be fewer missionaries in the field and their work would be handicapped. In my opinion, there are areas of ministry within our association not being explored, at least in part, by a lack of funding. At a point in our associational history, many felt that the man for whom our offering was named had made such a lasting impression that a special missions offering should be created in recognition of his commitment to missions. I did not know this man. From what I have heard and read about him and his life’s work, he was not an office man. Rather, he was regularly in the field ministering to the member churches and to the unchurched. The spirit of our associational offering does not match this man. It should.