In 2015, Michelle Higgins, a Black pastor and organizer, stood up before tens of thousands of people at a popular evangelical conference in St Louis, Missouri, and told them that, as she put it, “mission work was really an exercise in exporting racism, and that evangelicalism was a moral protection for white supremacy.”
Today, her criticisms are gaining ground. “For the last five hundred years, Christianity has been influenced by Martin Luther’s effort to decentralize the church,” Lisa Sharon Harper, the founder of a progressive evangelical religious group freedomroad.us, told me. “For the next five hundred years, the principle effort will be decolonization.”
More important than how Harper and others conceive of the last 500 years is what they predict for the ensuing 500: decolonization. And this is necessitated because of what has happened over the past half-millennia (or, at least, since 1619), the global project of white supremacy: “mission work was really an exercise in exporting racism, and that evangelicalism was a moral protection for white supremacy.” There you have it.
These are arid and divisive ideas, ones that are infecting certain quadrants of American Christianity. Left unchecked, they will cause problems for Christian fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. He explains how the Nigerian church has failed to pursue the Great Commission and why.
The mandate of the Great Commission has been abandoned by Nigerian churches; we are no longer interested in advancing the kingdom of Christ to areas where Christ has not been preached. Western missionaries sacrificed their lives to give us the Gospel but we now merchandise it and all our churches are concentrated in cities and towns where offerings and tithes are large. This empire building and money making agenda in our churches have hindered the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.
Our inability to reach the North with the Gospel and love of Christ is responsible for insurgency and terrorism in our country. While we were busy with selfish and prosperity messages in our churches and fellowships, the enemy went ahead of us with AK-47 and bombs and equipped our prospective target group with the instruction to wipe away Christianity from Nigeria. The Church today is now a sitting Church instead of a going Church. The true greatness of any church should not be measured by how many it seats but by how many it sends.
We have abandoned the going agenda and now engrossed so much with increasing the seating capacity of our churches. According to Roland Allen, missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual belief nor out of theological argument but out of love. Lack of love is responsible for this criminal negligence. We have monopolized Jesus for so long; let us start sharing His love, mercy and saving power with others. He did not die to save us alone; he died to save all, including terrorists. In Mathew 24:14 Jesus said that He will not come to take the saints until the Gospel is preached to all nations of the world. I strongly believe that no one has the right to hear the Gospel twice while there remains someone who has not heard it once no matter the race, tribe or tongue.
The knowledge of Jesus has saturated the southern part of Nigeria while the northerners are Gospel-starved. The place of electronic media in evangelism cannot be denied but many churches and men of God have been deceived by the devil to replace the going agenda with the broadcasting agenda when the Word of God is preached on television and radio. Who do we really want to reach out to? Who are our target groups? Majority of the unreached in Africa continent do not have access to electronic media and the few that do, do not have any business with Christian programs and networks. The only veritable tool to be utilized in reaching the unreached is GO YE. Until we start going or sending missionaries to reach the unreached, the Great Commission remains an abandoned project.
It might interest you to note that about 64 million Nigerians have not heard about Jesus and we are comfortably building human kingdoms and empires. Churches have gone commercial. Gospels are now for sale. Multibillion properties are developed for sale. Banks, hotels, schools and universities are built to make money for the church and nothing is invested to reach the unreached. How many mission schools and hospitals do we still have in Nigeria? The bitter truth is that many of Nigerian pastors went through mission schools constructed and managed by Western missionaries with minimal payment or no school fees at all. Why can’t we extend this kind gesture to others and attract them to the saving power of Christ? Mission is not a ministry of choices for a few hyperactive Christians in the Church. Mission is the purpose of the Church and the reason for the existence of every Christian.
We have two options to the Kingdom tension in Nigeria: To aggressively pursue the mandate of the Great Commission and push the Gospel further North, or to remain in our comfort zones and show indifference attitude to the salvation of over 64 million Nigerians who are waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus. Whichever choice we make, there is a reward. We are supposed to go back to the drawing board and bring out missiological strategies aimed at reaching to the dying souls in the world for lack of the saving knowledge of Christ. Churches should go back to the old time religion and act like the apostles in the book of Acts.
I believe that many churches and pastors are not into mission because the brand of their religion is not worth propagating. How do we preach prosperity to impoverished naked people? It is obvious that seed sowing will never work in such environments because they do not have any offering, seed or tithe to give.
The Gospel is only good news if it gets to the people in time. We are supposed to do God’s business in a hurry because delay is dangerous. For how long will this project remain abandoned?
Listen to this important, if not way out, story from Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church, Redding, California on how God spoke to Bethel church through His creation.
“Here’s a wild story for you… One year, every time we would meet at Bethel Church to pray, a roadrunner would show up outside the glass door with a lizard in its mouth! This went on for months until we realised that the Lord was calling us to go out to the roads, the highways, and the byways and compel the lost to come in! One day the roadrunner managed to find his way inside the church. In a desperate attempt to get out of the building, he hit a window and died. The Lord showed us through this event that if we did not reach out to the lost, to “go outside of our fall walls” so to speak, that our church and movement would die.“
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.“Revelation 3:14-19
The major tragedy is that those living without God will miss out on eternal life with God on a new earth, without pain, suffering and death.
God has revealed to us in His Word what they face after death: resurrection and a day of judgement when “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30; Luke 13:28). Should we not begin weeping at the very prospect?
ALL of us who know God and His goodness towards us in Jesus need to be reminded constantly of Jesus command:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:10
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15
What Luke said to the disciples before He ascended to heaven needs a response from all believers. We have all received the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our steps, to be our counsellor, teacher and comforter just as the disciples received Him at Pentecost.
“These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Also Paul in Acts gives us the same message:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1: 8 Jesus then Ascends to Heaven “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Act 1:9-11
There are more prophecies in the Bible about Jesus second coming than there were about His first coming over 2000 years ago now. These “end times” prophecies reveal that both the signs Jesus gave to His disciples to watch out for prior to His return, and our Heavenly Father revealed thru the Prophets of Jesus coming to rule and reign on earth, are now happening. The big sign was the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948.
Scripture tells us of three great judgements. First, the flood in the days of Noah. What happened? All the world’s population, except Noah and family, had the wrong agenda. Even though there was the sign of a 20,000 tons displacement boat built on dry land and Noah preaching for over 100 years, the population stuck to its wrong agenda – ‘their every thought was only evil continually.’ All but 8 people perished.
Noah’s Flood – extent of fossils buried (rapid burial) all over the world and fossil fuel evidence enough.
The second mighty judgement affects us all. It was the judgement of our sin which was put onto Jesus our Saviour. When Jesus came He was rejected by His own. Why? Because the leaders of Israel at the time had the wrong agenda. Did they know Jesus was the Messiah? – they knew that He performed miracles only the Messiah could do – healing leprosy and casting out demons, raising the dead. Also, the timing of the coming of Jesus as Messiah was well known – it was precisely specified in the prophecy of 70 weeks in the book of Daniel. The Magi, as the spiritual descendants of Daniel, knew full well – and they were watching. They recognised the sign. Regrettably, the religious leaders of Israel, at the time, had their own agenda – it did not include a Messiah that would upset their leadership and their religious rituals.
What about thethird judgement that is prophesied in Scripture at His second coming. There are more prophecies about Jesus second coming than His first.
Are we so fixed on our well being, our business, even ministry that we have lost sight of Jesus’s specific instruction to watch for His return? Are we so concerned with our own agenda, that we have lost sight of the Messiah Himself and His imminent return. Are we in a church that trusts in the inerrant word of God, recognises that we are in the “end times”, and is challenging the church to complete the Great Commission and prepare for the coming tribulation? Jesus said: ‘Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.’Revelation 3:3. The counter to that is that if you will watch, then you will know – ‘But you brethren are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.’ 1 Thessalonian 5: 4
Are our priorities right? Jesus first and foremost above everything? Are we in a church that understands the times (Bereans), looking forward to His return? Or are our plans, our desires, like the famous singer, Frank Sinatra – ‘I did it my way’ – I had or have my own agenda!
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come Lord Jesus.’ This is the right, the best, the pre-eminent agenda for today!
This post is based on an article written by Peter Mitchell of International Christian Chamber of Commerce, England – Got the Wrong Agenda?
“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4
We can see it played out in the death of Stephen. The religious communities’ rejection of Stephen, to the point of stoning him, caused the believers to run for their lives. If not for this rejection, Philip would never have ended up in Samaria. And what happened there? Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralysed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” Acts 8:5-8
A great revival broke out.The more the believers were persecuted, the more they spread out, fulfilling the words of Yeshua to start in Jerusalem, and then go to the ends of the Earth .
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).
And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)
Of course, we can see it played out in the Middle East and Africa where the church is under intense persecution by the greatest antichrist spirit of all, Islam. On this website, on a recent post, “Church Grows Under Persecution” I record the story of the rapidly growing church in Iran. Check it out if you haven’t already done so.
May we be like Paul who said:
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-11
When our pastors recognise they are called to a city not a church and are touched by what God sees in our cities -the pain and the suffering, then we might see transformation of communities. When they see their priority is to train up disciples that will go into their marketplace with the Good News, to bring God’s Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven, then we will see communities transformed.
Movement Australia is preaching this message. Listen to the highlights of the recent Movement Day Australia 2018 and be encouraged.