FBCX and CBF, Part III: A Unique Approach to Missions
Before a brief hiatus last week, I’d been using this space to lift up different parts of our relationship with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Our missions giving this Lent (be sure to grab an envelope from the hallway or make an offering online) provides a great opportunity to talk about CBF’s approach to missions.
Missions have been at the heart of CBF since it’s founding just over 25 years ago. Coming out of the SBC, congregations were eager to cooperate around a fresh approach to global and local missions. In fact, CBF churches are united by our shared approach to missions as much as anything.
Perhaps the best way to describe this approach is look at the interplay of two of the most well-known and important passages from the Gospel of Matthew. The first comes the very end of the gospel, and is the words of the risen Christ to his disciples as he ascends into heaven, known as the Great Commission:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
This has probably been the single most instructive passage for missions in the church throughout the generations, and it remains critically important for most any Christian missions effort, CBF included. But it’s the interplay of this Great Commission with a second passage in Matthew that highlites CBF’s unique approach. This passage comes from earlier in the gospel and is known as the Greatest Commandment:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
For CBF, the best approach to making good on the Great Commission is by holding fast to the Greatest Commandment. In other words, the most faithful way to “make disciples” is simply to love people.
So in reading through CBF’s materials on missions and the work of the nearly 50 field personnel it commissions, you’ll see a lot of language about “sharing the love and compassion of Jesus Christ,” “cultivating beloved community,” “bearing witness to Jesus Christ,” seeking “transformational development” among communities, and “serving alongside” local partners. Notice how this language points to process and commitment. CBF understands to love in the name of Christ is to love the whole person and to do so over the long-haul.
Conversely, you’ll see very little language of “saving souls.” This isn’t because souls don’t need saving—they certainly do. But CBF’s approach is that viewing people first of all as “souls to save” isn’t the most faithful way of loving them. It’s also true that often the soul most in need of healing is our own. We often find that in embarking upon our own “mission” to bear witness to the love of Christ, we ourselves are most changed. Humility is such a vital part to missions, and to love.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to browse through CBF’s missions work. And when you take an envelope from the wall next time you’re in church, fill it knowing you’re supporting good work done with great love and integrity.