Discovering Our Spiritual DNA
I invest myself in another and then another. They invest themselves in
others, and so it goes-a multiplication of on mission Christians populating on
mission churches. It's God's plan. Metaphorically speaking, when we are reborn
in Christ, He instills in us a sort of "new spiritual DNA" that makes us hungry
to tell others about Him, that draws us to "younger" Christians we can mentor,
that opens our hearts and makes us eager to accept our responsibility for
carrying out the Great Commission.
By Meredith Day
Ive never thought of myself as a very good teacher. Unlike most of my
friends, I never went through a phase of aspiring to be a teacher, and playing
school was always my least favorite activity. My younger sister still claims I
made her cry whenever I tried to help her with homework, so its a
long-established fact in my family that I dont have the patience to teach.
Thats why everyone (including myself) was skeptical when I got a job as a
teaching assistant during my first semester of graduate school. I was assigned
20 students to guide through an introductory journalism class, and I was a
nervous wreck by the time of our first class meeting. I didnt feel qualified to
instruct anyone about how to do anything.
Imagine my surprise when before long I found that being a teaching assistant
was my favorite thing about graduate school. It was an intro class, so each
student was required to meet with me once a week in addition to their time
spent with me in class. I found that my nervousness about not knowing what to
say or do faded as I got to know each student personally. As we formed our
relationships and I learned more about their experiences and individual needs,
I felt more qualified to offer instruction and encouragement.
So, rather than standing before them each week and delivering a lesson about
how to do something, I became a mentor, discussing one-on-one how to be
something (in this case, a journalist). What started as a daunting teaching
experience became a fulfilling mentoring experience as my focus shifted more to
the relationships I was able to form than the words I said.
The same principle applies to my relationships with other Christians who
have encouraged me to develop an on mission lifestyle. I value the
instruction and encouragement Ive received from my spiritual mentors, because
theyve looked at our relationships as processes, not as one-time teaching
The end result is an instillation into my very being of principles modeled
for me, because the emphasis was on the relationship and going through a
process together, rather than just a list of rules or steps. Their instruction
becomes part of me, because Ive seen it lived out, rather than just talked
I like to think that my spiritual mentors encouragement contributes to my
on mission DNA, because they invested themselves in my new life in
Christ to ensure that joining Gods work is not just something I do, but who I
I, in turn, invest myself in another and then another. They invest
themselves in others, and so it goesa multiplication of on mission
Christians populating on mission churches. Its Gods plan. When we are
reborn in Christ, He instills in us a sort of new spiritual DNA that makes us
hungry to tell others about Him, that draws us to younger Christians we can
mentor, that opens our hearts and makes us eager to accept our responsibility
for the Great Commission.
The apostle Paul is such a clear example of the importance of on
mission friendships in a Christians life. His letters are filled with
encouragement, admonishment, warning and instruction, all aimed at continuing
the mentoring process he began with individuals and groups of people he
encountered during his ministry.
Pauls friendships offer specific lessons about on mission
relationships, but, first, its important to examine his life in order to
determine what qualified him to mentor others in becoming more on
mission. What enabled Paul to encourage others are the same things in our
lives that we must understand before we can encourage our friends toward an
on mission lifestyle.
1. A call that couldnt be ignored. Pauls encounter with God
on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) left little to interpretation or imagination.
God gave Paul clear instructions and let him know that He was aware of where
Paul had been and what he had done. The experience resulted in Pauls complete
turnaround from persecutor of Christians to a man who would do anything to
share the truth of Jesus.
My call wasnt as dramatic as Pauls. I wasnt blinded, and I didnt hear an
audible voice telling me exactly what to do. But God calls all Christians to be
on mission just as clearly as He called Paul, and the turnaround is
just as radical. Gods call to share the gospel is a dynamic instruction that
becomes part of our new life at the moment of salvation. His call cant be
ignored by the Christian who is striving to be on mission. But we need
the mentoring process to help us discover our role in sharing the gospel.
2. A desire that couldnt be quenched. Pauls desire to tell
others about Jesus transcended everything else in his life, including his
safety and comfort. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me
that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth
nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord
Jesus has given methe task of testifying to the gospel of Gods grace (Acts
Ive often let myself slip into thinking that Pauls fervor for seeing people
come to Christ was a special case, stemming from his own dramatic salvation
experience. Ive let myself get away with half-hearted empathy for those who
dont know Him. But Tracy Jones, who serves as a national coordinator and
trainer for HeartCall, a North American Mission Board ministry that encourages
women toward a lifestyle of evangelism, says her desire to be on
mission comes from something all Christians have deep within their new
Im a desperate Christian, because Ive never forgotten how it feels to be
Everyone to whom Jesus has given a new life knows how different that life is
from the old one. Even if we came as children, there is a definite change that
marks the beginning of a spiritual journey, and when we remember how it felt to
be without God, it increases our desire for others to know Him. Because we know
how our lives have been changed, sharing Gods work in our lives with others
becomes a natural outgrowth of our relationship with Him. And influencing
otherssuch as our fellow church membersto be more on mission becomes
not just an activity of mentoring but who we are.
3. A mission that couldnt be completed alone. Pauls
ministry to the early church was mammoth, and he knew he couldnt do it by
himself. Several of his letters open with thanksgiving for friends and
associates who joined him in his mission. I give thanks to my God for every
remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer,
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now
God calls us to fellowship with other believers, not only in talking about
what He is doing in our lives, but also in joining together to tell His story.
Pauls fellowship with other believers was complete because they were working
together toward one purpose. We have the same call: to encourage each other in
the faith so that people can see how Jesus lives inside us.
Pauls friendships with fellow Christians offer distinct lessons about how to
encourage each other and about the benefits we receive when we work together to
live lives that are on mission.
Barnabas: A lesson in faith
When Paul tried to join other believers in Jerusalem after his experience in
Damascus, they were afraid of him because of his past. Suspicious that he might
be spying on them in order to do more harm to the fledgling church, they
refused to welcome him into their fellowship. But Barnabas had faith in the
change God had made in Pauls life.
When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to associate with the discples, but
they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple.
Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to
them how, on the road, Saul had seen the Lord and that He had talked to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. Saul was coming
and going with them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord(Acts
More than a belief in Paul himself, Barnabas had full faith that God had
worked in Paul and was sensitive to the evidence of that work in Pauls life.
Because he stepped out in that faith and vouched for Paul, they were able to
speak boldly in the name of the Lord together.
Although the new Christians whom we mentor in an on mission
lifestyle might not have pasts as checkered as Pauls, there is something that
shames all of us about our lives before Christ. In order to encourage my
friends in their spiritual journeys, I have to recognize that God has changed
their lives as well as my own, and past sins are fully covered by His grace.
Because we have evidence of Gods grace in our own lives, we can wholeheartedly
vouch for fellow believers.
Remembering how God has changed us from withingiving us spiritual DNAallows
His Word to take root in our lives, resulting in a lifestyle in which we are
actively looking for and participating in Gods work. Our job then becomes
encouraging other Christian friends to recognize the same change within
themselves and act on it accordingly. The end result, we hope and pray, will be
a church full of believers who multiply themselves and multiply our
Titus: A lesson in perspective
One of the main themes of Pauls ministry was the fact that God extended grace
through Jesus to all people, Jews and Gentiles. Because many of his opponents
insisted that strict adherence to the Jewish law was required for salvation,
Pauls writings emphasize grace as the only way to redemption. His friendship
with Titus, a Greek, gave Paul a living, breathing example of this doctrine. In
answer to the argument that Christians should be circumcised, Paul called upon
Titus to show his listeners that Jesus power was greater than the law. But
not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be
circumcised. This issue arose because of false brothers smuggled in, who came
in secretly to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, in order to
enslave us. But we did not yield in submission to these people for even an
hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you (Galatians
Pauls letter to Titus offers another reminder of the doctrine of grace when
the apostle urges Titus to avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels,
and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless (Titus
Paul was mindful of the different perspective Titus brought to the ministry
and encouraged him to use his experience to reach others with the gospel. In
encouraging others to be on mission, its important to focus on the
gifts each person brings, both spiritual gifts and the personal experiences
that define a persons spiritual journey. Because Paul recognized that Titus
added a new perspective to the message, he encouraged Titus to tailor his
on mission activities to reflect his experience. Paul encouraged a
lifestyle of on mission activity (rather than just a one-time
occurrence) in Titus by encouraging the development of his personal ministry
strengths. Paul recognized that these strengths were part of the new man Titus
had become as a new creature in Christ.
Timothy: A lesson in lessons
Of all Pauls ministry associates, I identify most with Timothy. In his letters
to Timothy, Paul offers constant encouragement and teaching, mindful of
Timothys youth and relative inexperience. It is in Pauls friendship with
Timothy that we see the clearest example of a mentoring relationship. He first
demonstrated the on mission life by taking Timothy along on his second
missionary journey; later, he writes to the Corinthians that he is sending
Timothy to them to remind them of what Paul taught them (1 Corinthians
Paul was aware of Gods call in Timothys life (like Barnabas had been toward
Gods call in Pauls life) and thus set out to train him in the faith, always
mindful that Timothy had ultimately been called by God. Although Paul
instructed him, he constantly reminded Timothy of Gods sovereignty in the work
He called Timothy to do. Timothy, my child, I am giving you this
instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that
by them you may strongly engage in battle, having faith and a good
conscience (1 Timothy 1:18). Paul prepared Timothy for ministry, first by
demonstrating it on the second missionary journey and later by writing letters
while Timothy was serving away from Paul. Even though they were separated, Paul
maintained the relationship in order to continue to mentor Timothy.
When encouraging fellow believers to be on mission, we can follow
Pauls steps, demonstrating an on mission life and then providing
resources for our friends that prepare them for their own mission. Pauls close
fellowship with Timothy throughout his ministry is a reminder of the importance
keeping in contact with other Christians, sharing experiences in our
spiritual journeys and hearing how God has worked in each others lives.
Continued fellowship with believers encourages us as Christians to think about
our part in Gods work as a process in which we are made more like Him, not only
in our actions but in the very fiber of our being.
Silas: A lesson in partnership
In his friendship with Paul, Silas was somewhat of a silent partner. We dont
know much about him, except that he was with Paul on a missionary journey and
that the two were thrown into jail after freeing a slave girl from a spirit and
angering her owner. According to the account in Acts 16, Paul and Silas sat in
the jail and prayed and sang hymns together until an earthquake freed them from
their chains. They shared the gospel with the distraught jailer, who believed
and then told his family about Jesus.
In the account in Acts, Silas never speaks by himself. He and Paul are
always mentioned together, unified in everything they did. Silas friendship to
Paul is a lesson in partnership because he went with Paul and stuck with him
through persecution, imprisonment, an earthquake and the salvation of the
jailer and his family.
Sometimes, the best way to encourage those around us to be on
mission is to go with them, partnering like Paul and Silas. Being willing
to go with an on mission friend provides a network of support for
discouraging times and someone with whom to share the joy of Gods work.
Partnering with an on mission friend can also make us even more aware
of Gods work in the world and in our own lives.
Pauls relationships with Barnabas, Titus, Timothy and Silas are examples of
how on mission Christians can encourage each other in the ministry of
sharing Christ with others and becoming more and more aware of His work. By
having faith that God has called each of us to share Him despite our
shortcomings, we can enable other Christians in the on mission
lifestyle just as Barnabas enabled Paul by vouching for him with the other
believers. When we encourage fellow believers to use their own experiences to
tell the story of Gods work in their lives, we widen the perspective of our
ministry just as Titus helped to expand the scope of Pauls ministry. When we
have an opportunity to mentor or be mentored by another Christian in developing
a daily on mission lifestyle, we receive the encouragement of someone
demonstrating that lifestyle for us, just as Paul did for Timothy. And finally,
when we partner with another on mission Christian, we can provide
encouragement and support for each other and share in the joy of Gods work in
each others lives.
Our relationships with other Christians help us to develop an on
mission lifestyle, rather than just participating in an occasional event
or outreach. Joining in Gods work becomes a process and not just a matter of
one-time instruction. Relationships in which we mentor other believers or are
mentored by them emphasize the importance of continual fellowship and
encouragement in learning how to be on mission, so that being on
mission becomes who we are as Christians and fulfilling the Great
Commission is who we are as Gods Church.
Meredith Day, a freelance writer in Duluth, Georgia,
soon heads to New York City as one of NAMBs US/C2 missionaries.
The NET evangelism strategy is designed to encourage believers to incorporate
their personal testimonies into the presentation of the gospel. The eight-week
course emphasizes developing lifestyle relationships and finding opportunities
within those relationships to share their faith. The NET pairs mentors with
apprentices, who are usually enlisted by the mentors through a Sunday school
class or small group. Mentors provide support throughout the training, first
demonstrating the strategy during planned witnessing encounters, then
encouraging the apprentices as they learn to use their personal stories of Gods
work to share the gospel. To order visit www.namb.net/catalog or call
One-Hour and One-Day Witnessing Workshops
These workshops are available in downloadable form at www.namb.net/onedaywitness. They are
designed to incorporate the principles of The NET evangelism strategy into a
more compact training environment. Still emphasizing the importance of the
personal testimony in sharing the gospel, the One-Hour and One-Day Witnessing
Workshops also can be used to train first-time NET mentors.
Inner City Evangelism (ICE) Emphasis
Churches interested in learning effective evangelism methods for cities can
participate in weekend training events that combine classroom sessions with
on-the-job training, in which participants go out and put into practice the
methods they discuss in the classroom. The inner city evangelism emphasis
focuses on encouraging Christians to start conversations that are evangelistic
in purpose. Visit www.namb.net/evangelism or call
HeartCall is an evangelism strategy for women based on three calls: the call to
prayer, the call to power and the call to purpose. Women who attend HeartCall
training are encouraged to seek God through prayer in their own lives and to
pray for others too. The call to power is a womans prayer that God will show
His power through her life. Finally, the call to purpose encourages women to
embrace the plans God has for their lives wholeheartedly and without fear.
HeartCall mentors women in relational evangelism that grows from an on
mission mindset of being ready to share the gospel at any time. Visit
Church Planting Resources
Early Stage Church Planter Development Resource
This resource is for people in the beginning stages of answering Gods call to
be involved in church planting. The first step is connecting the church planter
with a mentor who can encourage the church planter through the remaining four
steps: (1) considering what skills and competencies are needed for church
planting, (2) choosing and completing resources for relationship, knowledge and
skill development, (3) contributing ideas and resources to NAMBs church
planting web- site and (4) continuing to participate in church planter
equipping activities. For church planters who dont already have a mentor when
they begin using the Early Stage Church Planter Development Resource, NAMBs
Village website, www.churchplantingvillage.net,
contains information that helps connect church planters to mentors.
Straight Street for Church Planters
This resource is for people who have already been through the early stages of
responding to Gods call to be involved in church planting and will soon
participate in NAMBs Basic Training for Church Planters. The self-study guide
is divided into nine units focusing on establishing a network of intercessory
prayer, developing a vision for the church plant, thinking about the core
values of the new church, discussing how the church can reach specific groups
of people, beginning to develop a mission statement, examining the role
relationships will play in the church planting process, developing an
evangelism strategy for the new church and thinking about a worship plan. The
church planters mentor can guide and encourage him through the study. For
materials visit www.churchplantingvillage.net.
For Developing Leaders
Leadership Greatness is a Next Level Leadership Network workshop that combines
leadership development with a mentoring component. The workshop seeks to
develop leadership qualities through looking at five elements: (1) answering
Gods call, (2) finding contentment in His call, (3) developing His character,
(4) continually crafting and honing the gifts and skills He has given and (5)
coaching future leaders in these principles. Visit www.nextlevelleadership.com.
The Servant Principle
This Next Level seminar focuses on developing leadership through embracing a
servants heart. The training emphasizes identifying areas of selfishness,
learning to be secure as Gods servant, accepting that suffering is part of
developing an attitude of servant leadership and learning how to serve others.
The Coaching Leader
Next Levels Coaching Leader workshop emphasizes the importance of coaching in a
leaders life. The resource defines the four roles of a coaching leader
(motivator, assessor, developer and guide) and also looks at the goals and
attitudes of a leader that is embracing the role of coach for future leaders
and is actively investing in others. Visit www.nextlevelleadership.com.
Impact Zone is an event that seeks to mentor college students through
leadership development and hands-on missions experiences. During the day,
students participate in painting, roofing and other projects. Each evening,
they hear from leaders from the business, political and religious realms. There
are Impact Zone projects planned for Chicago and Los Angeles for the summer of
2005. To register visit www.studentz.com/impact.
For Mission Education
Girls in Action (GAs)
Girls in Action is the Womans Missionary Unions (WMU) mission education program
for girls in grades 1-6 or aged 6-11. GAs seeks to develop mission-mindedness
from an early age through praying for and giving to missions, doing missions
and learning about the work of the church. Meetings are usually weekly, and GAs
also can participate in WorldVentures, an individual study plan that offers
mission activities for each grade level. For information visit www.wmu.com.
Royal Ambassadors (RAs)
Royal Ambassadors is a mission education program for boys in grades 1-6 and
focuses on training boys to be on mission as they grow older so that
theyll be more likely to continue in their on mission lifestyle as
they get older. Divided into Lads (grades 1-3) and Crusaders (grades 4-6), RAs
complete activities based on the virtues emphasized by the program. Lads study
loyalty, friendship, courage, responsibility and honesty, while Crusaders focus
on faith, compassion, perseverance, teamwork and self-discipline. RAs also
learn about Bible accounts and missionary stories that relate to the virtues.
Additionally, Sons of Virtue, which pairs RAs with their dads for study related
to the virtues, allows parents to mentor their children through mission
education. For information visit www.royalambassadors.org.
Acteens, a program of the WMU, is for girls in grades 7-12 or ages 12-17.
Acteens teaches mission education through ministry projects, state and national
events and Acteens Activators mission trips in North America or abroad. Acteens
also can choose to take part in MissionsQuest, which focuses on developing a
different attribute for each grade level, including confidence, courage,
creativity, character, excellence and vision. Acteens groups, which usually
meet weekly, learn about missions through emphases on self, church, community
and world. For information visit www.wmu.com.
Challengers is a program for young men in grades 7-12 that emphasizes mission
education and involvement in nine mission fields: life, family, church, school,
neighborhood, association (of churches), state, nation and world. Challengers
complete mission Bible studies and also mission challenges within each of the
mission fields, striving to cross barriers in order to share the gospel.
Challengers focuses on mentoring and accountability; each participant has a
mentor and eventually becomes a mentor, and Challengers hold each other
accountable for the mission projects they complete in each of the areas. Each
weeks Challengers meeting also feature the testimony of one man who is working
toward the same principles in his own life. For more information visit www.challengers.cc.
Baptist Men On Mission
BMEN is designed to encourage men over 18 to live an on mission
lifestyle through continual worship, obedience, strong relationships within the
family and church and a commitment to join in Gods mission. BMEN groups meet
regularly and also offer special resources like Men@WORK, which teams men
together for home improvement and missions projects while focusing on the WORK
(worship, obedience, relationships, keeping commitments) statement as a study
model. BMEN is dedicated to developing in Christian men a mindset toward the
Great Commission. Visit www.bmen.net.
FiSH! is a strategy for students who want to share the gospel with their
friends at school. FiSH clubs meet in cycles of four meetings where students
(1) pray for a friend they want to share their faith with, (2) get inspired to
share their faith, (3) share their personal testimonies with the group and (4)
invite their friends to a meeting where the gospel is shared. Students are
provided with resources to help them share their faith, and there is also an
emphasis on follow-up with those students who attended the last meeting. By
providing students with a new emphasis each week, with each week ultimately
focusing on inviting friends to hear the gospel, FiSH! mentors students to
share their faith and places importance on prayer and developing your personal
story of Gods work. Visit www.campusrevolution.net.
PowerPlant is a training and missions experience for middle school, high school
and college students. For a week during the summer, students attend training
sessions devoted to teaching church planting principles and evangelism skills.
Students learn about church planting and their roles in it and are encouraged
to develop readiness to share their faith whenever possible. Participants also
are involved in hands-on missions experiences, which could be anything from
conducting sports camps or Vacation Bible Schools to handing out bottled water.
PowerPlants are planned for Seattle, Toronto, Reno, Charleston, Colorado
Springs, Pittsburgh, New York City and Kansas City for the summer of 2005.
Visit www.studentz.com/wc for
In this mobilization strategy, Strategic Train-ing and Resource Teams (START)
go into churches and help congregations look at their involvement in missions
and try to provide additional avenues for service. The START teams are mostly
husbands and wives who have been trained to help churches mobilize members for
mission projects. Call 800-462-8657, ext. 6131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-ssentials for the On Mission Church
E-ssentials provides pastors and worship leaders with video clips and other
visual resources that speak to the cultures desire for new ways of seeing faith
presented. Visit www.essentials.tv.
A heartcall for mentoring
All of my Christian relationships, all of my lifelines, have been mentoring
relationships in some way, says Tracy Jones, national coordinator, trainer and
self-proclaimed cheerleader for HeartCall, a ministry dedicated to encouraging
women to practice lifestyle evangelism. Jones, a first-generation Christian,
says she has depended on her friendships with other Christians to provide the
mentoring that she didnt receive from her family members.
Tracys experience with HeartCall began after she was mentored by women in
her church in Houston. As a part of a group called Women in Prayer that met in
author and speaker Beth Moores home, Tracy said she came into contact with key
women who served as examples of an on mission lifestyle for her. When
she shared about her churchs womens ministry at a womens leadership conference,
Jaye Martin, NAMBs Womens Evangelism Strategist, asked her to serve on a
HeartCall task force. Since then, Tracy has worked to develop videos and
devotional materials aimed toward giving women a permission slip to share the
gospel. Tracy says women are often afraid of not knowing what to say if they
get into an evangelistic encounter. HeartCall seeks to give women confidence in
sharing their faith and seeking opportunities to reach others through a
lifestyle of evangelism.
And Tracy herself has become a mentor. Some of her family members came to
Christ after she shared her experiences with them, and she travels to
evangelism conferences training and equipping other women to share their faith.
She also encourages women over the phone and email to lead on mission
Tracy also brought a special HeartCall emphasis to Macedonia Baptist Church,
her home church in Longview, Texas. When the ministry first began, she asked
her pastor, Steve Cochran, if she could train the women in the church in the
four-week HeartCall course. During HeartCall month, Tracy says the women in her
church were given courage and began to see their daily lives as full of
opportunities to share the gospel. It got all of the women on the same page, to
lead a daily lifestyle of evangelism, Tracy says.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC