Dr. Randy G Mitchell
We believe mobilization is essential to calling the whole Church to committed participation in reaching the whole world. “It has been said that the church exists by mission as a fire exists by burning. While it is the nature of the church to be on mission with God, it is rarely, if ever, natural and automatic that Christians venture into costly mission endeavor without the teaching, challenge, counsel and encouragement of other Christians. When Christians intentionally inspire, instruct, mentor or equip fellow Christians to become engaged and fruitful in His mission, they are doing the work of mobilizing." We see mobilization then as a range of activities, involving a wealth of resources and we would contend that we need a more holistic view of mobilization. We are not introducing a formula rather this is a framework for understanding mobilization as a whole. Our objective is to create a common language and a basic understanding of mobilization in all of its constituent parts. We then stress the importance of collaboration in order to see these parts function as a whole. This of course will need to be contextualized both culturally as well as organizationally.
Increasingly it is understood that mobilization is more than recruiting out of the local church. Mobilizers should work with the local Church to raise awareness of God’s heart for the nations, provide specific training as it relates to mission endeavors as well as facilitate ongoing engagement in God’s mission. This is more in keeping with the original definition of the word Mobilization. Historically this word meant, “logistically and strategically and effectively recruiting, training and deploying resources in a manner producing maximum effort to accomplish the ultimate goal.” We have long understood the difficulty of moving people from awareness to equipping and finally engagement, but a failure to understand mobilization occurring on a continuum with defined dimensions has left us unable to diagnose where our mobilization efforts have broken down. Our tendency has been to attempt to fix mobilization at the point of our failure rather than addressing the problem in the process. We would suggest that there are actually multiple dimensions to mobilization. Each of these dimensions exists on a continuum and involves processes. When these are properly studied, understood and integrated should produce movements of people on mission.
Let’s begin with the outcome in mind. Far too often our missionary efforts keep us quite busy. We fill our schedules with more and more activity. But Mobilization is more than a call to be busy, we need to define our objectives and then work from their backward identifying the necessary steps to produce our desired outcomes. Without this any activity is seen as a success and any outcome, or even no outcome at all remains acceptable. However we define the Task and whatever it means to finish we must acknowledge that God is sovereign over His mission. He has however invited every believer to participate in the completion of his mission in some meaningful way. His mission needs, even requires the active participation of all of His people, if for no other reason than simply for his glory. Rather than the missionary enterprise of God Being relegated to a few, God is calling the whole of His Church. We see in Scripture this is God’s intent and we see based upon the enormity of the Task this is a need. The outcome we are presented with in Scripture is God’s Glory as the redeemed from all peoples are gathered before the throne worshipping God. The objective of all Mobilizers is to see all God's people on Mission, “thus fulfilling these biblical promises and prophecies of the ingathering of people and peoples into God's Kingdom for the sake of his Glory.”
As mobilizers our objective needs to be facilitating the movement of people to God and with God on Mission. Our desire is not merely recruiting mission workers but catalyzing Mission movements though our mobilization efforts. A movement is defined as a group of people working together in order to accomplish a shared mission. Movement begins with connecting individuals and groups to the God on Mission. Then movement is facilitated by developing structures and systems that guide people into mission. Movements required the interconnectivity of our lives with God, with one another as we are equipped and engage in God’s mission. We believe that our objective should be to see these movements continuously gaining momentum through consistent mobilization efforts.
Mobilization needs to be understood as a process along a continuum. This means we can speak of people being fully mobilized or not at all or somewhere along a continuum of mobilization. A church, church network, denomination, people or even nation can be mobilized by degree. Max Chismon writes, "Mobilization is a journey, not an event? The journey into active and fruitful participation in the world Christian movement is a journey that demands many events and a lot of personal processing of what these events provide, in the form of new information and challenges." A people cannot be said to be Mobilized until they are personally, actively engaged with God on Mission. We cannot speak of the people being mobilized until we have raised awareness, even passion among believers concerning God’s redemptive plan and the role we play in it. But if we fail to provide additional training and eventual opportunities to engage in mission we cannot speak of them as Mobilized. We cannot speak of people being mobilized, if having raised awareness of God's mission we have not then prepared them by developing training programs to equip believers with much needed world-view, cross-cultural ministry skills, practical knowledge and know-how to do missions. We cannot speak of the people being mobilized if we are providing training but we are not assisting in affectively deploying them where these skills are most needed. Mobilization requires is to understand the processes and when our efforts are not producing our desired outcome recognizing that the solution is somewhere in the process.
Mobilization can be broadly broken down into three dimensions: Discovery, Development and Deployment. These three dimensions of Mobilization represent a concatenation (a series of interconnected things or events). Each dimension needs to be developed wholistically and need to be practiced simultaneously. All three dimensions are necessary and all three must be in place before movements can develop momentum. It does no good to try and deploy new missionaries if we have not effectively trained and prepared them through some development process. We have no workers to train if we are not continually doing the work of helping believers discover God and His mission. If we have led believers through the discovery and development process but have no means of Deploying them we have not mobilized.
As a believer increases in awareness of God and His divine purposes it is the work of the Holy Spirit leading that person into a deeper revelation of God. Mobilizers work with God and His Spirit to draw people to God as well as equip them for mission. Our objective is not to manipulate or coercively motivate God's people into His service. We believe our role is one of guided discovery for both individuals and ministries. We work to encourage leaders to adjust their ministries to fulfill God's mission and we hope to assist individuals in participation in that vision. This sense of divine purpose leads believers to focus their lives on participating in the Mission of God. We believe this challenges individuals as well as ministries to focus their resources on the mission of God. Tim Dearborn states, The Church’s involvement in mission is its privileged participation in the actions of the triune God. Our objective is to help people connect their lives to eternal purpose. Our message needs to be one of opportunity.
There are four essential processes that occur during Discovery and these same processes progress through Development to Deployment. They are Knowing, Being, Having, Doing. These processes are sequential in that each one is dependent upon the one prior. However, we are always learning, always growing in our understanding and experience as well as always exercising our capabilities. In the Discovery dimension each process is very personal and thus the language is correctly individualistic. Much of this may seem very elemental, however careful observation of the Church will prove that often when we work to raise awareness about God’s mission people lack a basic understanding of these foundations.
Knowing—The greatest need of humankind both collectively and individually is that we would know God intimately and personally as he reveals himself in Scripture. Not just talking about knowing information about God, I'm talking about knowing God on an experiential level. At the same time experiential knowledge of God needs to be mixed with knowing the truth about God. The Bible is given to us by the self revealing God because he desires to be known, known among other things as the God who creates, the God who sustains and the God who saves. Indeed the knowledge God is revealed to us about himself is essential for life in the way that he is essential for life. To lack knowledge of God is to lack what is essential for life and there will be a cost associated with that lack of knowledge.
Being—Knowing God provides the basis for understanding everything in creation including myself. If I am to live out an identity that identity must be established in God and who he created me to be. Without this I could never hope to answer the question who am I, why am I here, what is my purpose on earth. My identity is essential to identifying my central task. This includes our identity in creation as well as the “new creation”. This is important because identity shapes our core beliefs about ourselves and even in relationship to others around us. Those core beliefs in turn, drive what we think, our expectations and attitudes about ourselves and our lives. This in turn determines everything we say and do. So your identity drives your life. How I identify myself determines how I approach life.
Having—Every person needs to be made to understand who they are and how God has uniquely gifted them. Directly related to my identity is how God has equipped me to carry out His purpose. We begin to understand how we are to steward all that God has given individually and collectively including: time, talents and treasure in order to carry out God’s mission. We have a rich inheritance that has been restored to us through our identity in Christ and in order to carry out his mission. For this to occur a paradigm shift needs to occur. We need a realization that living life is more than acquisition of goods, satisfying desires and pursuit of personal agendas.
Doing—Now that I know God as the saving God and I understand my identity as a new creation as well as how God has uniquely gifted me I know what to do with this life. This is true both general as well as specifically. We can answer the question why was I born, why am I here, what am I supposed to do with my life. We are each called to participation in the one redemptive mission of our God. To the extent we align our lives to this eternal purpose we discover the true meaning of our lives individually.
People need to be exposed to God's heart and love for all peoples. They need to be made to understand his redemptive purpose and the role every believer plays in fulfilling this purpose. They need assistance in discovering the unique ways in which God has gifted them to ensure every segment of society is reached around the world. Every individual in every church in the whole earth mobilized for mission.
This Discovery process should occur at the level of our day-to-day living in homes, at church, in prayer, Bible study, in fellowship. However corporately the Church needs to be intentional about this process. If not the Church will simply fall victim to materialism, endless self-improvement, programs and projects. It is important to note that even in the Discovery dimension every believer is personally responsible for God’s Mission.
During the Discovery dimension every believer is on a very personal journey both to God and toward His mission. But, It is not enough that a people become sufficiently inspired concerning the Message of redemption and God's invitation to participate in that Mission. Every believer needs to be equipped to serve on God’s Mission in some capacity and this is largely accomplished in community. Development occurs as we impart knowledge by teaching, skill by guided experience, and character by modeling and mentoring. It is during this time they continue to grow personally as well as spiritually. People acquire practical skills, gain knowledge and are active in God’s Mission. They are developing as a believer, maturing spiritually, developing giftings and their own calling. It is important they find avenues to put into practice the things they are learning and the local church provides the perfect incubator for this growth and development. Development occurs in community and community is necessary to produce the maturity of faith, formation of character as well as skill acquisition.
Knowing—Knowing becomes a growing breadth and depth of knowledge of God and His Mission. Understanding of Christ’s mission given to the church including the ”Method, the Magnitude, the Message, the Model and the Means necessary for carrying out God’s Mission.” However it also includes: Biblical literacy, mission education, mission strategy and research about the nations.
Being—Understanding more deeply the realities of our new life in Christ especially as it relates to God’s purpose. This is personal and spiritual formation with character transformation to mature as a disciple of Jesus. This is learning to live in Spiritual community and rightly relate and function as a part of Christ’s body.
Having— Increasing our capacity to steward God’s gifts of time, treasure and talent that God has blessed us with individually to serve His purpose collectively. Growth occurs on an individual level but is most often acquired and practiced community.
Doing—Development in our calling through the acquisition of practical skills necessary to carry out His mission. Learning to serve together in a community of faith. There is no better setting than the local church in a local community to both acquire skill as well as utilize those skill while on mission.
The word "deploy" is defined as moving into strategic position in order to better utilize or to bring into effective action. In mission this means the movement of people and necessary resources into strategic position to be best utilized and most effective on God's mission. When we talk about deployment we are focusing on our outcomes. Therefore we are addressing any number of activities the Church may participate in including prayer, sending, receiving, going, etc. as they actively engage the Great Commission locally and globally. This requires the creation of new ministry opportunities, empowering new leaders, increased partnerships all in an effort to provide multiple avenues for individuals to engage the mission of God. Deployment needs to be practiced much more corporately. Language shifts from “me” to “we”. This is language of the body, the global Church on global Mission.
Knowing—Personal knowledge becomes shared knowledge including resources, research and strategy. Disciples become disciple-makers. We are drawing others into knowledge of God and His mission.
Being—Shared identity with Christ on Mission. We fully relate our lives and orient our priorities around our lives abiding with Christ on Mission. Embracing a corporate identity as individual members joined together to form one body with one mission.
Having—Individually contributing but collectively utilizing God’s gifts of time, treasure and talent with maximum capacity to accomplish God’s ultimate goal. It is here we steward all that God has given in His Kingdom for His Kingdom.
Doing— Mission is no longer the few reaching the lost, but the whole reaching the world. Along with new ministries and paradigms for mission, we will need new sending models and identify new sending mechanisms in order to make mission participation possible. Our changing world and the increasing complexities we face in mission requires us to completely rethink what deployment looks like. We must embrace a new vision for the mission enterprise especially as it relates to engagement. It essential we think collaboratively, working globally with God and others, empowered by His Spirit, on His mission calling others to discovery, development and deployment. Deployment needs to be thought of in terms of partnership. This will of course present many new challenges. But, what problems do we face in deployment that cannot be solved in partnership?
Lastly, a very important concept to this Mobilization Framework is the idea of Pathways. We need to envision unique pathways people might traverse toward mission. Organizations, churches, denominations may have unique mission opportunities that need to be identified, we then create pathways to move people from Discovery to specific Development and finally to Deployment. If we do not help believers envision pathways from discovering God’s mission to participating in God’s mission they will seldom stumble upon them randomly. We need to envision these pathways and then be intentional about coaching individuals toward engagement. Pathways are established to provide ease of movement from where we are to where we want to be. These pathways are not rigid but are intentional. We are working to create new and unique pathways to the nations. As we are leading people from Discovery through Development and to Deployment always the question needs to be what next. This keeps us from turning mobilization into an end unto itself. Mission is the objective, Mobilization is the means and God’s glory is the outcome.