Much like the servant who received five talents in the kingdom parable (Matthew 25:16), on numerous occasions I have found God using me far above my pay grade. At one of the early Calvary Church Planting Network conferences I was asked to be part of a panel discussion on church planting. I could see my wife praying at the back of the crowded room because she knows I get very nervous in extemporaneous settings. She knows, I know, and too many others know, I tend to ramble and repeat myself in these types of settings. To rattle me more, I was among five giants; the panel was with pastors and missionaries I highly respect and count as my mentors.
Questions for the panel were submitted digitally for the moderator to field. With each question he gave the panel a moment for one of us to respond. It seemed to work and I could simply work out a response that hopefully edified the audience and those listening online. It was way less stressful than I had predicted, and maybe I even enjoyed it. That changed about 40 minutes into the questions. That is when someone asked if the contemporary church had lost its emphasis on reaching the lost because it had lost its emphasis on eschatology. The question was just sinking in when moderator quickly turned to me for a response. It was the very definition of extemporaneous and my gut turned a bit.
Nerves hit me and I responded by rambling and misquoting Revelation 7:9, “We want to reach every nation, tribe and tongue that will come worship the Lamb that was slain. That’s eschatology, that’s our end game.” I said a few more things, but it was just variations of my first statement. That setting may help explain why I hope to clarify the response to the question because that is immensely important in considering the completion of the mission of God.
On a few occasions I have had the honor to be with a fellowship of God’s people as they launch into a fully functioning church. I’ve told them Jesus has built them together as His community, His own special people to worship Him. I’m confident to tell the fledgling congregation that though there is great conflict among principalities and powers in the founding of a church, Jesus promises the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. Finally I tell them because of the protection Jesus offers, some version of that church should be meeting until Jesus returns for them. When I share these things it is everything I can do to not be overwhelmed with emotion. It’s emotional to me because as God gathers His people to build His church it touches eternity, and in return He allows us to touch eternity.
…as God gathers His people to build His church it touches eternity, and in return He allows us to touch eternity.
God is an excellent mission leader and we know He will excellently complete His mission. We read of the last moments of His mission in the judgments of Revelation 20. There, only a few pages before the concordance in your Bible, the whole storyline from when the Lord cried out across the separation, “Where are you?” is almost complete. All history is converging and the end is a page away. But there is one last thing.
In Revelation 21 a loud voice from haven proclaims the end of the mission of God by saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev 21:3). That’s it, the story and mission are complete, His people are gathered.
I should have responded to the question about eschatology to the panel by saying; “The questions of eschatology being the driving force in outreach is backwards. It is the mission of God that drives eschatology and will bring about the worship of the Lamb that was slain by people from every nation, tribe, peoples, and tongues.” Of course that answer came to me later that night, just before catching our flight back to Kenya, but I’m writing the book and get to say it here.
It is the mission of God that drives eschatology and will bring about the worship of the Lamb that was slain by people from every nation, tribe, peoples, and tongues.
Ed Compean is a church planting coach based in Nairobi with his wife Kelli, but soon to transition back to the States to serve as director with SSMF. You can read their blog or follow him on Twitter @Ed_Compean.