“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ’Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)
In the Gulf war, should Iraq launch an air attack, we would counter-attack with guided missiles, smart missiles. But the enemy may have sophisticated electronic diversions that can mislead and make ineffective even the smart missiles. One is called chaff. A cloud of millions of tiny foil strips is fired off and creates a dummy target within a second. The missile gets confused and may hone-in on the chaff. A second diversion is electronic. When the anti-aircraft missile is guided by radio from the ground, the aircraft emits similar radio signals that are just enough different to mislead. A third method is for heat-seeking missiles. The aircraft drops flares that are hotter than its own emissions and deceives the heat-seeking missile into going after the wrong heat.
Our arch Enemy has diversions, too. We are in war-college, so to speak, preparing to bring down the Prince of the Power of the Air; yet if we aren’t smart, he’ll deceive us. Of his many diversions, I want to identify three important diversions that we will identify as chaff so we won’t be deceived and miss our trajectory, miss the target God designed us for – world evangelization.
Chaff in dealing with our enemy are decoy definitions of “missionary.” These are not the real thing.
- Chaff: “Everyone is a missionary or a mission field.” To assign a vocational name to a universal responsibility is chaff that deflects from the churches’ objective. While understanding the intent is to raise the level of commitment on the part of all; the effect is to lower the level of commitment to the specialized task, the missionary vocation.
- Chaff: A missionary is one who goes away from home to minister and is paid by his home constituency. We can consume all the church’s resources in doing many good things and never hit the target of world evangelism.
- Chaff: To expect of a short-term experience what it can’t provide. For example: using a short-term experience to test out your gifts or calling. Short term missionary is a little like trial marriage- you try out something, but it isn’t marriage. Plan youth group’s short-term experience carefully to provide what it can provide: education and inspiration. Part of preparation is to be sure they don’t have unrealistic expectations or false motivations – that they don’t go after chaff. Use the experience to recruit for career missionary service through thorough preparation, working with the field supervisors to assure a positive experience, de-briefing and long-term follow-up. Use the program to spread the vision to others.
What is the target? Understanding that a missionary is an apostle, sent by the home church to evangelize and start the church where it does not exist. To concentrate on location rather than vocation can confuse and draw us out of trajectory. We want to clearly identify the basic New Testament calling of apostolic church founding, recruit for it, prepare the task force needed, and support them. This is our responsibility as God’s people. How accurate are you in reaching the target – in avoiding diversionary chaff? Has God called you to start a church where it does not exist? So we take risks to fly in unchartered skies. If we don’t, if our next generation doesn’t do things differently from the last 60 generations, the job will not be done!
Would you pray today for laborers for the harvest? For culturally appropriate, Spirit energized ministry? For new believers from all nations to walk close with Jesus? For us to recognize chaff and not get diverted from the trajectory of world evangelization? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16