Seize Christ’s Mission as Your Own

Being a missionary in America is about submission to the King. Christians do not have a mission of their own. As kingdom citizens, every believer’s mission is the same. There is one mission and it is the mission of Jesus. We must be faithful to that mission. “It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.” (1)

In The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus tells a story that is a mixture of history and legend. Those who have seen the movie Braveheart will be familiar with the characters. Robert the Bruce was the Scottish noble whose character is most remembered for betraying William Wallace, but he later rose up to lead Scotland to freedom after Wallace’s execution.

He died in 1329 at the age of 54. Shortly before his death, Robert the Bruce requested that his heart be removed from his body and taken on a crusade by a worthy knight. James Douglas, one of his closest friends, was at his bedside and took on the responsibility. The heart of Robert the Bruce was embalmed and placed in a small container that Douglas carried around his neck. In every battle that Douglas fought, he literally carried the heart of his king pressed up against his chest.

In the early spring of 1330, Douglas sailed from Scotland to Granada, Spain, and engaged in a campaign against the Moors. In an ill-fated battle, Douglas found himself surrounded, and in this situation death was both certain and imminent. In that moment Douglas reached for the heart strapped around his neck, flung the heart into the enemy’s midst, and cried out, “Fight for the heart of your king!

One historian quoted Douglas as shouting, “FORWARD, brave heart, as ever thou were wont to do, and Douglas will follow his king’s heart or die.” The motto of the Douglas clan to which the present duke belongs is even to this day simply, “FORWARD!” (2)

To belong to God is to belong to His heart! If you have responded to the call of Jesus to leave everything and follow Him, then there is a voice within your heart crying out: “FORWARD! FIGHT FOR THE HEART OF YOUR KING!”

Christians must not become consumed with their own ambition. They must seize Christ’s mission as their own. They must advance the revolution that Jesus started two thousand years ago. In Matthew 26:39 Jesus submits to the Father’s will, knowing that the cross and suffering lie ahead. He prays, “I want Your will, not Mine.” Every believer needs to come to terms with whose mission it is all about.

J. Oswald Sanders relates an incredible true story of a man who had seized the mission of Jesus as his own, and the movement that followed.

The great leader Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (1700–1760) was tempted by rank and riches; indeed he is most widely known by the title of honor noted here. But his attitude toward ambition was summed up in one simple statement: “I have one passion; it is He, He alone.” Zinzendorf turned from self-seeking to become the founder and leader of the Moravian church. His followers learned from their leader and circled the world with his passion. Before missionary work was popular or well-organized, the Moravians established overseas churches which had three times as many members as did their churches back home—a most unusual accomplishment. Indeed, one of every ninety-two Moravians left home to serve as a missionary. (3)

The Church has a mission because God has a mission. There are many churches and church consultants who suggest that a local church has to develop a mission statement. Suggesting there is a need to craft such a statement only confuses the issue for many Christians. Believers do not need to discover God’s mission for their church or for their life. They simply need to embrace God’s redemptive mission as the mission of their church and the mission of their life. The Church has a mission in this world because God has a mission in this world.

Carpe Missio!


  1. Driscoll, The Radical Reformission, 40.
  2. McManus, The Barbarian Way, 2–4.
  3. Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 16.

Author

Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
6 replies
  1. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    Love your blog, am being encouraged regularly by your writing. Do you have any practical ideas for “being a missionary in America”? What does someone (a normal working Joe) do to practice living this way. We are trying to encourage our small church plant to “be the church” but have realized they they don’t know how to live this way as it is new concept for them. We send an e-mail every week with an idea/challenge for living missionaly mostly based on what we are doing in our life but I am running out of practical ideas. And I don’t find any blogs, books, or articles on making it practical so I need help please.

  2. DaveDV
    DaveDV says:

    I keep saying – “Every believer has been sent by Jesus with the gospel in community to the culture for the sake of the King and His kingdom.” The challenge, therefore, is for every follower of Jesus around the world to embody the mission and message of Jesus everywhere they go!

    Simply understood, this means planting the gospel in the culture and incarnationally displaying and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is Lord! But HOW does this happen?

    Rather than looking for new ways to “be missional,” it may be helpful to identify patterns of missional behaviors that can be “practiced” each week. I’ve been encouraging pastors and church planters to identify behaviors that demonstrate their Core Values. These behaviors then become Core Practices (habits) that everyone in their church family begins to exhibit. For example, if your core value is “authenticity” – then the question to ask is: “how do we as a community demonstrate authenticity”? The answer should be expressed in behavioral terms.
    – We confess our sins to each other
    – We do not pretend to be “spiritual”
    – We speak the truth in love

    Another Core Value might be “Compassion” which could be demonstrated by:
    – We serve others 3 times each week (or everyday)

    – We bless someone 3 times each week
    – We write an encouraging note to someone 3 times each week
    – We pray with anyone right away whenever a concern is expressed

    Another Core Value might be “Community” which could be demonstrated by:
    – We share a meal with other believers once each week
    – We meet to remember Jesus once each week
    – We give “grace” to one another daily

    Another Core Value might be “Intimacy with God” which could be demonstrated by:
    – We daily read and reflect on Scripture
    – We set time aside each week to listen to God (1 hour or more)

    After identifying several of these behaviors, together you begin to “practice” them each week. Imagine a group of Christians that were reading and reflecting on Scripture, listening to God, confessing sins, not pretending to be spiritual, and speaking the truth in love, who were also serving others, blessing people, writing encouraging notes, praying together, sharing meals, remembering Jesus and being gracious. If everyone worked at living out their personal values, it would have an incredible impact on those around them.

    Another way to identify behaviors might be simply to ask: “What would it look like to be Jesus to those around me?”

    Identifying missional behaviors cannot be a program, it must be a lifestyle. Changing the way you behave isn’t easy. As the Holy Spirit helps you to identify ways to “be Jesus” to those around you, adopt the thinking and behavior that incarnates the gospel.

    Missional behaviors are redemptive, reconciling, merciful, gracious, and other-oriented. If we “just” worked hard at “being Jesus to everyone everywhere” – we’d probably be headed in the right direction.

    Keep asking – “How do we display the gospel to those far from Christ?” Certainly this will lead us to spend time with those far from Christ. A few more ways to get started might be:
    – We share a meal in our home with non-believers every week
    – We pray at 10:02 for laborers for the harvest (Lk 10:2)

    – We frequent the same “third place” each week at the same time to develop relationships with non-Christians
    – We use http://www.meetup.com to join a group of non-Christians in our neighborhood/town/community
    – We join our “Neighborhood Watch” group (or start one) on our street.
    – We adopt the closest school to our home and start volunteering each week

    I hope that helps a little. Don’t give up. You are doing a great work! If you haven’t read The Externally Focused Church by Rusaw and Swanson, pick it up. It’s got some great ideas, too.

    I’d love to get your weekly email – add me to the list: davedv@sbcglobal.net

  3. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    Thanks so much for all your thoughts. My husband and I are thankful that you took the time to share. I just ordered the book from Amazon and will read it as soon as it arrives. In the meantime we will be pondering your thoughts and ideas and putting some into action.

  4. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    Just finished reading the book you recommended, “The Externally Focused Church”. Great read. They had so many good ideas for service projects so we decided to tweak their Superbowl party idea to provide an Easter Sunday brunch for the homeless in our city. (Our church meets are night so our Sunday mornings are free.) We already have some established relationships with some homeless people in Santa Rosa and they really care for their peers so they will help us get the word out. Our young people are very excited.

  5. DaveDV
    DaveDV says:

    That’s great – I’m glad you enjoyed the book. It was the best one I read in 2006.

    I had breakfast with Eric Swanson a few months ago and he really stretched my thinking. He asked the question: “Is your church good news to the city?”

    I think you’re on target with the Easter Sunday brunch and discovering ways to serve the city. I hope it blesses many people and introduces them to the kingdom of God.

    Church planting should start with Service, not services! Keep up the good works!

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