Why can’t Jesus followers spread their message like Coke
Bob Roberts says God has called us to do far more than just be religious.
By Ronald E. Keener
One need to look no further than the labels of our clothing, or the car we drive, for reminders that we live in a day of globalization. And in a global community, Bob Roberts Jr. reminds us that missions is not reserved for a few super-spiritual, jungle-bound adventurers. Every Christian is a global citizen and a missionary.
Roberts, senior pastor for Northwood Church in Keller, TX, author of the seminal books Glocalization and Transformation has written Real-Time Connections (Zondervan, 2010) in which he challenges church leaders to reconsider their roles as global ambassadors for Christ. Church Executive asked Roberts about the book and his own life lately:
What would it look like if every follower of Jesus were to take the Great Commission seriously?
When the Great Commission is fulfilled, every believer would have gotten up on his or her feet to engage their city with the Gospel through word and deed. It wouldn’t even take that long. There is nothing as powerful as a disciple living out the faith. If Coke can spread over every part of the world and doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, why can’t followers of Jesus?
Why doesn’t our evangelism lead to deep changes in our neighborhoods and cities?
It is focused on making converts instead of disciples. It’s about church as the Sunday event instead of a community of transformation. We failed to remember that it’s the Gospel of the Kingdom, not just salvation. We also forget that Jesus was about the reconciliation of “all things” which includes people, and anything broken that hinders men from knowing God and living the life he’s called us to.
What does it mean — as in the subtitle — to “link your job” to fulfilling the Great Commission, to be a vocational minister?
A few years ago the Holy Spirit prompted a question in my mind “What if the church were the missionary?” All of a sudden it hit me; every believer should own the Great Commission, not just the religious professional or vocational minister like me or missionaries.
The next question was, did God want everyday disciples to do more than just give money or were they to be participants. The Scripture is very, very clear on that point. I then began to ask, how do I help people mobilize? My conclusion was very, very easy: What if they used their jobs, that thing that they knew most? Instead of training a missionary to be a business person, why not take a business person and disciple them?
What if I am a factory worker? How do I use my job?
If you’re a factory worker you can do more than a corporate executive. Here’s why: A corporate executive can teach business principles and relate to the very elite, but a factory worker can connect with the masses and build relationships. A factory worker also has basic skills that make him or her invaluable — from water wells to building projects, you name it.
What does it mean to truly live as a disciple in this difficult world?
It means that I live with joy in the midst of suffering and refuse to be brought down by the difficulties. It means to love all people and not allow yourself to be driven by the fear that the media and others would have.
That means I love the hard places and follow Jesus on CNN, be it Iran, North Korea, Gaza or Sudan. Those are the kind of places where Jesus wants us the most. It means that I know where things are headed and where my hope is. It means that it’s about knowing my Father and that I’m his child and living as a son or daughter, not as an orphan who has to fear, fret or worry. It means God is giving me countless opportunities to glorify his name.
Why do so many feel they just aren’t making much difference for the Kingdom?
Because they aren’t. They’re just going to church, trying to be good, moral people, but failing to realize that God has called them to do far more than just be religious. When you act in faith, it puts you out on a limb and that’s where the action is.
Most of us are trusting God for something we want, not something we see as the goal of our life in bringing glory to God and reconciliation to men and women. When you get serious about serving God, and using your talents, there is a snowball effect that happens.
How has your work in glocalization transitioned over the years since your first book Transformation?
So, so, so, much. There are global churches that are getting this. So last week I was with 12 of the top global pastors of the world. We have a combined total of more than 18.000 church plants, 1,800,000 people and we work in 80 countries. All of us would share this same philosophy.
In a few days I leave for Doha, Qatar at the invitation of Al Jazeera [the media company] to meet and connect with 250 world leaders from the Middle East.
They tell me they haven’t met an evangelical like me and some are curious. Our work in Vietnam has grown significantly. Our church planting has taken off. This year alone we’ll plant 30 new churches. My work in countries and with state departments has grown.
The point of all this: I’m connecting our members and our new churches to key churches, nations, and global gatekeepers around the world and I’m having a blast doing it. I get to share my faith with communists, atheists, Muslims, Buddhist and even a few Baptist!
So what’s the bottom line to Real-Time Connections?
The bottom line is to get up off your bottom and get in the game! The people who have greatest impact on the spreading of the Gospel aren’t the preachers; it’s the whole body of Christ, all of it coming together, all using their gifts for something really fantastic and radical. God wants to let us labor with him. What an incredible joy, opportunity and statement of his love of us and belief in us as his sons and daughters. And how do you do that? By going to seminary and getting a lot of training? No, by doing what you do best in your job or skill, and by living out the Gospel in a natural way.
And what more do you expect of yourself in this faith adventure?
That I courageously, boldly, adventurously, enthusiastically, run toward the wild places and engage to hard spots to show the love, joy and power of Jesus. That I charge a hill most people would laugh at or say is impossible, but enough of us believe it, that we do it together and the whole church of every stripe gets up on her feet.
That I would have been a part of the movement that moved the spread of the Gospel from the religious professional to the everyday disciple. That when I am gone the number one thing people would say about me is, “I want to know Jesus like that man knew him.” That when I am gone, there will be thousands of churches, millions of new believers, transformed cities, heads of state to custodians in public schools who would have come to faith in Christ.
That Hanoi would become one of the greatest cities in the world and part of the reason will be that Christians began to serve them and help them develop. That my children will walk with God and never forget that all things are possible. That my sons and daughters in the faith will take courage having known me and my background and be able to say, “If God could use him, He can certainly use me!”