After all this time in prayer, I must confess that I have not received a definitive answers to the “what do you want your people to do…” query. The LORD has, however, repeatedly confronted me with two questions.
The first question is whether, in fact, the whole premise of 28:19 is an appropriate one to ask this particular congregation at this particular time. This notion came from the LORD challenging me with the difference between the hearts of this congregation (myself included) for, say, putting together a pageant, with its heart for outreach. Whether it was Met, Lisa, Jessica, Kathy, or John it seemed that all it took was a phone call and hordes would volunteer countless hours to produce pageant and all without complaint. I wonder if we would have the same Spirit-filled effort for planting a church? Or, does the motivation for participation in pageant come from somewhere else? Don’t get me wrong. I love pageant. I just don’t think it is the direct method of outreach contemplated by 28:19.
Of course, this question begs a larger one: is this congregation properly educated about the fundamental importance of witness to the Christian faith? There are certainly many individuals at St Mark that have devoted themselves to the practice of witness. But, for the congregation as a whole, the answer to this question comes back, “probably not”. If that is the answer in the current life of this congregation, wouldn’t this knowledge gap be the first thing to rectify? It seems obvious that we should know about this; maybe it isn’t…
I don’t know much about one of our potential partners in this effort, Cross Point Church, but it seems that their congregational culture is different in this regard, that they have something of this knowledge…
The second question is: as a congregation, once we get motivated, to “whom” do we witness? In prayer, I keep picturing some anonymous face like Paul saw in Acts 16:9 saying, “come over to Macedonia and help us”. If I remember correctly, it would have been Paul’s will to head north and east from where he was in Asia Minor and not into Europe (v.6,7) but the Spirit “would not allow” it. His obedience to this vision changed the whole history of the Christian Church; so, it seems that paying close attention to the leading of the Spirit is critically important here. The man in Paul’s vision said “Macedonia”, but I can’t help but believe that Paul would have known him by dress or speech otherwise. I personally can’t distinguish this man, but he’s out there. By that I mean “they’re out there” as in an ethnic group or geographical location relative to St Mark. I live ten miles southeast of St Mark, so my familiarity with areas north and west that have been mentioned in context with 28:19 are very limited.
Forgive, again the fact that I do not have a glimmer of an answer to this question; but, I am willing to follow someone who does.