Think Big, Start Small
Feb 28, 2018
As we continue to consider “What characterizes our movement?” from The Navigators Vision, we come to this hopeful statement: “Around the world, many are coming to faith.”
Remember what Paul said to the believers in Colossae? “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood the grace of God” (Colossians 1:6, BSB). These early church Christ-followers were experiencing the gospel both locally and as part of a much broader movement in which many were coming to faith in Christ.
The same is true for us. Our vision sees us all as part of a worldwide gospel movement in which many people are turning to Christ. The ministry Iris and I are doing these days tends to be local. We want to raise up laborers who incarnate the gospel where they live. We encourage others to simplify and localize as a way of fighting fragmentation, busyness, and burnout.
Yet this local emphasis must be part of a dual focus in which we see ourselves connected to our brothers and sisters all around the world. This means that we pray for our neighbors to come to faith in Jesus and that we also pray for people to come to faith in the nations around the world. We are all connected.
This reminds me of a key insight from Jerry Bridges’ True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia. He wrote:
All believers share a common life in Christ, whether or not we recognize it. We are in fellowship with literally thousands of believers from every nation of the world. . . . We disagree with many of them over various issues of faith and practice, yet we are still members of the same body. Even though we struggle to like some of them, that does not alter the fact that we share together a common life in Christ.
If the followers of Jesus in the first century were taught that they were part of a worldwide movement, how much more should we who live in the age of the internet and air travel be connected to this worldwide work of God?
Notice that this line in our vision also uses the word many.
Our focus is life-to-life. Yet we believe that the seemingly slow work of planting the gospel in the fabric of our daily, local, natural lives—among our families, neighbors, and friends—will
result in many people coming to faith. That’s our hope and that’s our vision.
Like Jesus, we “think big”: the advance of the gospel worldwide (Matthew 24:14). And like the Master, we “start small”: investing in those around us . . . and trusting the Holy Spirit to multiply our efforts.
Indeed, may it be true of our ministry efforts that the gospel is bearing fruit and growing all over the world!
For Your Consideration:
Resources to Help You Pray:
Consider brainstorming with your team about how you might connect with believers in other countries. Come up with an action plan.
What part is God calling you to play in the advance of the gospel worldwide? Giving to missions? Praying for individuals serving overseas? Preparing to serve in another country? How might you make sure to seek God’s voice in this area on a regular basis?
Do you find it overwhelming to think about praying for the world? Check out the websites below, where you’ll find a wide variety of helpful tools and information.
Operation World (www.operationworld.org) offers a plethora of resources to help believers pray for the salvation of the world. The Operation World book helps you pray for a different country every day of the year and outlines the spiritual condition of each country. It is also available as a mobile app. Check out their many free resources on prayer.
Prayercast (www.prayercast.com) provides a variety of plans for systematically praying for the world. Pray along with videos of each country, or use the details provided for your own prayers.
The Voice of the Martyrs offers up-to-date information on how to pray for Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith. Go to www.persecution.com and click on “How You Can Pray” for stories and prayer requests, and to request their free newsletter.
Al Engler is the director of Nav Neighbors. To contact him or to learn more about his ministry, click here.
Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles unpacking the Navigator vision. The series begins with Unpacking Our Vision: An Introduction.