Spring is often the season of missions conferences. As is the case in most years, I will be in a number of churches over the next few months, preaching about missions, giving, and, in some cases, the role of Global Baptist Schools in the work of world evangelism. While I understand that our ministry does not fall neatly into the categories created by more “traditional missionaries” over the years, I’m sometimes surprised by the surprise of others in considering GBS as a missions organization.
When Jesus commissioned His disciples to “go into all the world” He was very specific about what they were supposed to do along the way. Mark 16:15 makes it clear that they were to preach the gospel. They were to be evangelists, proclaiming the good news of salvation to those who were not even aware that they needed to be saved. This is generally the first aspect of missions that comes to mind when we consider the great commission. We are excited to hear about missionaries reaching into areas where the gospel has never been heard, and talking to those who have yet to hear the name of our Savior. There is an eagerness to reach into “closed” countries and “dark” continents.
But evangelism is not just the responsibility of professional missionaries. It is the obligation of all of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ. It ought to be natural for us to tell others about the great change that He has made in our lives and our eternal destiny. It is for that reason that every year our students study the principles and practices of personal evangelism. We want them to know how to share their faith, and we want them to get out of the classroom to do it. I think it is safe to say that every month another pastor tells me how his army of soulwinners has increased as our students become faithful in their responsibility to share Christ with their families, neighbors and coworkers. We have even seen students come to Christ as a result of hearing and understanding the gospel during a class. We are thankful that the Lord has used the ministry of GBS in the lives of hundreds of students, who have, in turn, been used to lead hundreds to the Savior. Training believers to be busy about the work of evangelism in their own communities is fundamental to the ministry of Global Baptist Schools.
Winning a soul to Christ is hardly the ultimate goal. In many respects, it is just the beginning of the process. After all, salvation is a “new birth”. It is only logical that those spiritual infants must grow and mature. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus told his disciples to “teach all nations”. Literally, He was instructing them to make disciples, by going out and baptizing and teaching. At it’s very heart, this is the work of the pastor. Ephesians 4:11-12 teach us that that pastors are given to the church “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry.” Believers are to be built up, made mature and prepared to do the work of the Lord. That’s the goal your pastor has for you. And that’s the goal of every pastor with whom we work.
I tell pastors on a very regular basis that GBS is nothing more than a tool in their hands to help them in that task. Often, the weekly institute class provides a pastor the opportunity to disciple some of the key members of his congregation in a structured, systematized way. Usually, those class members become an important part of the core of the congregation, ministering and discipling other believers as they grow.
For many, this is the ultimate goal of missions. It’s a worthy objective, since it generally indicates that souls have been won and discipled. That new church becomes the center of life for those new believers. It provides a place for corporate worship, instruction, service and fellowship. The presence of a vibrant, active church means that the ministry will continue, by the grace of God, long after the missionary leaves that field.
Our educational model is built completely around the local church. In fact, the only way that you can study with GBS is at a local church, under the direction of the pastor there. Our students, by requirement, must serve in some specific way within that church week after week. Our graduates use their training to minister in their churches as Sunday School teachers, deacons, youth workers, and even pastors. Many of our graduates have been sent by their churches to plant churches in nearby communities. Church planting and development is in the DNA of all that we do.
So, yes, it’s true that Global Baptist Schools is not a missions organization in the traditional sense. But everything that we do is consumed by the desire to fulfill the great commission of preaching the gospel and making disciples who will become fruitful members, doing the work of the ministry, in their respective churches. If that is the burden of your church, it would be our honor to partner with you in ministry as a part of your missions outreach. Contact me today and let’s pray about how we might serve the Lord together.