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Do You Have a Missional Heart?

By Candice, RMM staff writer

Missions Day, August 4, 2013, Locust Grove Mennonite Church. The second service of the morning opened with a welcome from RMM president Joe Showalter, heartfelt worship, and a crowd of shining young faces. The children’s choir sang three songs, including a “For God So Loved Us” with a verse in German.

Josiah, Sara, and Daniel*, RMM workers in North Africa, shared about how they seek to be the “visible, tangible presence” of Jesus in that place. They are continually asking themselves and learning: “What does it mean to share good news here? What is good news in this culture?” Muslims envision heavenly scales with their sins on one side and their good works balanced on the other side. The Bible tells us that God loved us enough to clear the scales. This is good news for friends and neighbors in North Africa who are burdened with the weight of their sins.

Mel Shetler was the featured speaker of Missions Day. He is the recently retired pastor of Maple City Chapel where he served for forty years and outgoing chair of the board of directors of Rosedale Mennonite Missions. He began by talking about his love for Conservative Mennonite Conference (CMC) and introducing his topic: Does CMC have a missional heart? He spoke from the text: John 4:1-38. He believes that God is birthing in CMC a missional heart and is on the verge of doing something new.

Mel made it clear that he was not talking about a new evangelism program or tools. “I’m asking you to do what I’ve been doing for the past seven years: Ask God every morning to give you a missional heart.” So, what is a missional heart? Mel outlined the following seven characteristics (adapted excerpts):

1. One who knows they are sent.
We are passing through this life with a sense of purpose, passion, and responsibility for the mission of God. The woman at the well had an encounter with Jesus, and then Jesus explained his heart to the disciples. It’s that heart that I’ve been praying for—a missional heart. Imagine what could happen if the good news shaped every area of your life. Too often, we go to church without engaging the church in everyday life. A missional heart engages the unchurched with the gospel. It is the decision to offer to God our plans in everyday life in exchange for his plans.

2. A missional heart lives out God’s value system.
Jesus said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food is to do the will of him who sent me.” Jesus engaged the Samaritan woman in a winsome, powerful encounter and she received the gospel. For Jesus, this kind of work was “as good as it gets.” Sharing the good news is deeply, inwardly satisfying. When you know God’s used you, it gives you resources like nothing else.

3. A missional heart has discovered life’s purpose.
Jesus said he knew why he had been sent here: to finish the work of the Father. We should all ask ourselves what God is calling us to do. God is going to rise up in your spirit, maybe this morning and say, ‘this is what I’m asking you to do.’ Do you know what work you are sent to finish?

4. A missional heart sees the harvest as a daily adventure of life.
Jesus and his disciples were in the country at the time, likely walking through fields, and Jesus turned to them and said, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (v. 35). He didn’t want the disciples to think that the harvest was sometime in the future. He wanted them to think that the harvest is now. Every day is harvest time for somebody. Someone is ripe today in your network of connections. It’s incarnational work—we are living it out every day in community.

Missions Day Offering
The annual Missions Day offering combines funds raised by Ride for Missions, lead gifts contributed by Touchstone donors, and an offering received during the Mission’s Day program at the CMC annual Conference. At the end of the service, Joe Showalter, RMM president, announced that the offering of over $35,000 received in the morning offering pushed the estimated total of the combined Missions Day Offering above $320,000.

During the Missions Day program, RMM workers were commissioned. Reappointed workers: Josiah and Sara* (North Africa). New home office workers: Ashley Koppenhaver, SEND Department administrative assistant and Courtney Miller, SEND Department assistant director. The 2013-14 REACH teams to Greece, the Himalayas, South Asia, Spain, North Africa, and South Africa, were also commissioned.

5. A missional heart is passionate about the harvest.
The sower and reaper rejoice together. “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalms 126:5). When is the last time you sowed in tears? Once a father called me in tears to say “My son has been in hell now for 2 ½ hours.” This man’s son, who was far from God, had died in a car accident. When you know someone is lost and you have no passion about that, something is wrong. Our hearts should be gripped with the passion of that. When people become followers of Jesus, we cheer and celebrate! There is passion connected to both.

6. A missional heart recognizes that we reap where others have sowed.
“Thus the saying ‘one sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor” (v. 37, 38). For every person you’ve “taken across the finish line” to salvation, others have planted the seed and prayed. Thank God for every soul you have harvested or will where many others have invested time and prayers on their behalf.

7. A missional heart accepts the hard work of harvest.
You can’t call the harvest into the barn. You need to go get it. I grew up on a farm and watched my father prepare for harvest. When the harvest was ready, he didn’t ask his eleven sons to stand and shout into the fields for the harvest to come into the barn. In the same way, we can’t expect church programs to get people into the church; we have to go seek them out. It’s hard work.

What’s God asking you to do? Is he calling you to do something?
Let’s all pray for missional hearts.

Responses from the congregation:

“After hearing Mel’s wonderful sermon, I long to reach out more in my own community, to the Amish people who are our neighbors and my husband’s patients. My husband is an optometrist in Belleville. His practice is called Big Valley Eye Care, and I am his receptionist/assistant. We try to be a light to not only the Amish but anyone who comes through our door. I’m excited! The sermon reached my heart.”
- Bethe Nardis, Locust Grove, PA

"This has been my heart and passion. I want every day to be an adventure because I believe the harvest is now. The inner city has been on my heart, but I am not sure what my role should be as a pastor of a rural church."
- Tim Yoder, Maple Glen, MD

“Each point brought heart-searching perspectives to ponder: Does the harvest challenge inspire passion in my heart? Is the harvest a drudgery issue for me, or an adventure? Does the lost-ness of people register in my thinking process? How compassionate am I? I sensed the Spirit nudging me about the Catholic neighbor women in our cul-de-sac in Cuenca with whom it has been hard to develop a relationship. Does difficulty give me permission to stop trying to establish relationship? A missional perspective prompts me not to give up either on them or on the Spirit’s ability to do amazing things with the obedience of a missional heart.”
- Thelma Nisley, Cuenca, Ecuador

“I wish we could have this every Sunday. The worship time and sermon by Mel Shetler were meaningful. This is my passion, my heart."
- Phyllis Yoder, Locust Grove, PA

“A missional heart sees the harvest as a daily venture. It is not something we plan to do in the future but it naturally becomes part of our every day. We head to work or any other activity with sharing Jesus on our mind. As I listened to Mel tell the story of the man who said his son has now been in hell for 2 1/2 hours, I wondered if we really believe the reality of hell. If we really believe it is true wouldn't we all have a greater passion to share the gospel with the lost?”
- John David Swartzentruber, Greenwood, DE

“What tugged at my heart through the message was not an overwhelming sense of emotions or a call to a certain place. It wasn't even any idea of what I could do with my life. It was a desire to make my everyday life one in which I am aware of all of God's children. Knowing the harvest is a daily adventure means you might never notice any progress until it is upon you, or you might just never notice because it has become your daily life. You don't have to go somewhere else to engage this message. Having a missional heart is as Mother Teresa once said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one." Loving the world one person at a time is what a missional heart looks like. So, what really tugged at my heart was a call to live my life with the proper focus.”
- Brenda Schlabach, Fairlawn, OH

*Names changed for security reasons