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The pastor is key

By Rev. Ray Mensah

A few years ago, a church invited me to speak on missions for two nights. I was excited about this opportunity but I had mixed feelings. How many people would show up for a missions conference on a Wednesday night?

In my experience, few church members attend such programmes. Upon arriving, I was shocked. The car park was full, and hundreds of people filled the building.

The bishop recounted how the Lord had convicted him about drifting from the mandate of the church, to the detriment of precious souls slipping into hell every day. Because of that rebuke, he immediately began teaching and preaching on evangelism, disciple-making and taking the gospel to the nations. After some weeks, he felt they needed someone with more missions experience to equip them further. Hence, I was invited.

I left that church convinced beyond doubt about something I had been saying for years—“PASTOR IS KEY!” Church members believe and act on what the pastor emphasizes. In my opinion, pastors are responsible for the lack of interest in missions that we see in many churches across Africa and other continents.

Dr. Michael Youssef puts it this way: “As goes the pulpit, so goes the pew. As goes the pew, so goes the nation.”

Scripture mandates the leader “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13). Pastors must thus equip their church members, as a matter of urgency, to make disciples and take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

For a church to be missional, the pastor must create that missional culture. According to Dr. James Lemons, “The modern mission church movement began in 1932 with a paper that Karl Barth gave at the Brandenburg Mission Conference. From Barth’s paper, Karl Hertenstein in 1934 coined the term missio Dei to make the point intentionally that churches do not exist for themselves. They exist to participate in God’s mission to the world.” He adds, “Stephen B. Bevans and Roger P. Schroeder put mission into perspective by saying, ‘The Church of Christ does not so much have a mission as the mission of Christ has a Church.’”

Though I currently serve as director of a mission agency, by the grace of God, I have pastored churches in Ghana, Botswana, and Namibia. I understand the many pressures and challenges pastors face; nevertheless, that is no excuse to be inward-looking. Our mission is global. Our Lord Jesus commanded us, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19-20).

In sum, pastors must catch a vision for world evangelization, then instill that vision in their congregation. The members will respond by taking action in their Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias, and uttermost parts of the world. The pastor then guides them to craft a mission’s policy which will impact every department of the church ̶ children, youth, women, men, choir, ushering, media, etc. Now missions becomes the mission of the church, and every individual is involved in prayer, giving, and going. I pray this happens in churches across Africa and beyond. May the Lord of the Harvest use this AfriGO edition for that purpose.

*Lemons, J.D. The Pastor as the Missional Church Architect. Doctoral Thesis. Asbury Theological Seminary, 2007.

Ray Mensa Mensah is the Executive Director of OneWay Africa and also serves as President of the Ghana Evangelical Missions Association (GEMA). He is passionate about the total mobilization of churches for missions where every member is involved in the Great Commission. ray@owm.org

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