Thursday, April 19, 2012

300 Leaders: Bob Roberts on becoming engaged in God’s world on God’s mission

Bob Roberts is a very successful leader who is human, knows his own frailties, and has good things to say.  Here is a summary of a an encouraging message he did at a leadership conference for Missions Frontiers.
You can watch the video of this talk from 300 leaders here and read my notes below:
The whole world is connecting. Bob spoke of his joy at being in Jubilee Church and meeting Tope Koleoso, a leader of a multicultural church. Such connections help us learn. For example, Bob has found interacting with Muslims has helped him strengthen his thinking eg on the Trinity.
Bob spoke of his beliefs about and encounter with The Holy Spirit. He learnt of the Spirit through David Wilkerson who attended the same church as him. He explained how recently he had found it hilarious that when he was laying hands on people in his church many spoke in tongues though he hasn’t. The Spirit is precious to him.
The Globalisation of the Church means we must learn from others.
Bob explained he stumbled on the World. Don’t just think of “missions”. Many of us see the world but we don’t get it. We have Christian tribes and stay disconnected. But God is holding us accountable.
Bob believes the Bible. Believes in the Trinity. Believes no one is saved except through Jesus. He wants the gospel to be spread.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt 6:33. No more important verse than that.
What does it mean to seek the kingdom?
Bob explained he tended to think that the sermon on the mount was  unattainable goal. Didn’t think of it as a Christian manifesto. But the Apostles said “imitate me”. Bob tells planters have no business doing so until they can say that. We need people who are transformed. Living the sermon. You can grow a church without God if gifted and skilled in marketing, leadership techniques. It’s not really about building a big auditorium and filling the seats. God has called us to take the people he sends us to the ends of the earth. We talk about numbers. Meanwhile divorce is rampant, greed grips the people of God and the people are not changed.
2000 mega churches of more than 2000 in the USA now but there’re fewer people in church. Mega chunch is not the answer. Not that he doesn’t like it. But if you are a mega church then you should be seeing more lives transformed and sending many people out to mission.
People approach church in a consumeristic way. Churches are seen as a provider of goods and services. We have to stop thinking like pastors and think like missionaries. A pastor asks how is the church going. A missionary asks how is my city doing?
Bob told his story of how when the church stalled at around 350 people and had a ministerial crisis.
God spoke to him and asked “Bob, when is Jesus going to be enough for you?”
He got out his Bible and began to read the sermon on the mount. Jesus redefines the ten commandments, speaks of salt and light. What would it look like if I really lived this? God began to break him. How do I get to live like that? We need the Holy Spirit to live that way. We need to be obsessed with the Kingdom.
Stopped thinking like a pastor and started thinking like a missionary. No longer focused on growing his own church but extending the kingdom.
For three years taught the sermon on the mount and kingdom. Bob recommends Dallas Willard’s book to help in this journey back to the teaching of the man we worship as God.
The kingdom is in you, the temple in you. Christianity can grow in any nation.
The beauty of the gospel is it functions in every culture. God doesn’t have a one size fits all. There is variety in what he does.
A godly mentor , Leighton Ford (brother in law to Billy Graham) got ahold of Bob and said “I want you to finish well.” Got a group of them together. During this phase of his life he realised finally that everyone is messed up. There are those who admit it and those who don’t.
Kingdom in kingdom out. Transformation is not about the preacher and the church, but about the disciple and the society. The seed of the gospel when planted in a person should transform that person. But also the community. How does the seed get in?
Some core things we better get. Word mission is not really a biblical word. The word kingdom is used again and again, mission not so much. What is it?
  • Multiplication of churches
  • Living sermon on mount
  • Move from missions to kingdom
Pilgrims gives but are also reviewing. Missionaries go and only give. We are in fact children of God who need to receive and give from all things.
There are no boundaries. The first truly global thing that shaped the face of the earth was the birth of the Church.
Christianity spread through ordinary believers. Eg the persecuted Christians who scattered to Antioch and shared the gospel.
Paul and Barnabas followed the Spirit. Paul was a systematic theologian but went wherever the Spirit leads.
No such thing as here and the. World is global. We don’t get global.  God is already working all over the world. Jesus is present everywhere.
Sometimes people have revelations of Jesus even without meeting believers. God does his work of saving with or without you. Be reformed. But not  lazy reformed. God called us to share. Not to witness out of guilt.
Missions is recognising God has put me  here and following divine moments. Live the gospel wherever you are. Be radically transformed.
The Gospel of the Kingdom, is that salvation is the staring point not the endpoint. Kingdom is about God doing something beyond your ability to get it done.
Kingdom is transformation reconciliation and mobilization.
Great commission is not about merely getting the gospel out. Whole of Matthew defines what a disciple is. Great commission starts in Genesis with Abrahams call. God loves all nations, including Ishmael.
It is not just about getting people into heaven but getting heaven onto earth.
Stop thinking missions think about the rule and reign of God.
Explosive church growth usually starts with massive transformation in individuals.
We can start churches but this is not enough if they are not kingdom places. We think that it’s all about praying a prayer. The question is who is God. People pray the sinners prayer,then have to explain the trinity. The kingdom is more than accepting Christ.
Every disciple is s church planter. Model is not learn grow and go. It’s hear and obey. How do you ever know you are mature? All we need is to recognize his voice and follow him. Prayer becomes critical. Holy Spirit is who you need. Receiving the Holy Spirit is critical.
We need a kingdom culture. Need am interactive relationship with God and each other. Challenging one another. Using your job to make a difference for God. We did not first define the idea of disciple without understanding the world.
Bob had tried to be a missionary three times and got rejected. Couldn’t let it go. Holy Spirit asked him “what if the church were the missionary?” the first question mentioned earlier had changed him, now this changed his view of the church. He realized we have taken the great commission and made it a job description for a few people. What would it look like if all members were missionaries? Focus on a spot, and use their jobs.
What if God has a different way of doing missions now but we are still thinking William Carey? Someone suggested they focused on Vietnam. Bob replied its a closed country. But now he realises there no such thing as a closed country only stupid evangelism and wise evangelism.
People are not usually turned of by the gospel, they are turned off by us! Get people to use their jobs.
There are different domains in society. Reconciliation of all things. Col 1. When we start doing things about poverty the world will notice. God put the world together.
Collaboration of the whole body. Need the domains to collaborate. Convergence of domains. Sending of the whole church. Becoming friends with gatekeepers, friends with the unbelievers. The whole world is open. About whole body of Christ. Go in the front door. God can use you if you are willing to take a risk. Doesn’t want us to be shy about who we are.
Don’t segment ourselves and isolate from world. Salt and light.
Follow Jesus on CNN. Wherever hell is breaking out God is calling the church to do something.
Serve not to convert, but serve because you have been converted.
You don’t have to pimp the gospel the Holy Spirit is quite capable.
World is connected. Get on the grid of the world. Church functions to connect the world. Help believers in other parts of the world.
Bob says “I support the Jews but I also support the Palestinians because God loves them both.”

If we are going to touch the world
1. Move from interfaith to multifaith. Interfaith says we are all going to heaven. We can’t compromise our faith. Jesus is the only way. Let’s all be honest.  Other people of faith will respect that! Tell the Muslims etc to tell us what they believe too.
2. From isolation to integration.
3. From complex tribal theology to core global theology.  We need books that help non-experts to understand
4. From speaking and criticizing other tribes to challenging your own tribe
5. From competition of religion to collaboration with people then we get to talk about the gospel
6. From on a focus on religious leaders to a focus on engagement
The Kingdom is our context
Stop being so religious.


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