My summer travels included teaching a seminar as part of our international Doctor of Ministry program, meeting this time in Turkey. One of the most interesting aspects of the trip was a robust conversation with a secular, Muslim, Turkish cab driver—who was more versed on what is happening in the United States than many Americans.
He asked me, “What is happening in America?” and then followed his question with this comment, “It seems like you have lost your minds.” When asked to clarify he quickly listed three issues: telling children they can choose if they are boys or girls, cultural approval and legalization of same-sex marriage, and teaching social theories that categorize and divide people along racial lines.
Once he explained what he meant it, it was hard to argue with his conclusion. We have lost our minds—or at least our common sense grounded in centuries of moral reasoning. Popular opinion, and resulting legal decisions, are resulting in cultural upheaval much of the world finds alarming. We should too.
American Christians seem to be responding to these changes in two primary ways: personal anger and political outrage. Both may be satisfying in the moment, but neither are ultimately productive in fulfilling our mission. The Bible warns about the futility of anger as a motivation, “…for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. An honest appraisal of evangelical political investment in the past forty years mitigates against that as a solution as well.
We are about to start another academic year at Gateway Seminary. We will not be fomenting anger or teaching political activism. We will teach students to share the gospel among unbelievers, stabilize new converts in their faith, disciple those converts toward productive lifestyle changes, congregationalize converts and disciples into churches, and develop leaders who can repeat the process over and over again. We do this with areas of specialization about particular challenges—like counseling, age-group ministries, compassion ministries, etc. But everything we teach is grounded in and comes back to one basic mission.
You may be thinking, “Same old, same old.” You are right. We are a one note song at Gateway Seminary. We have a narrow mission—shape leaders who expand God’s kingdom around the world. We have simple watchwords that motivate our decisions—biblical, missional, global. We focus on proven methodology—evangelism, discipleship, creating and developing churches, and producing more leaders to continue the process. We do this well, and we are content to keep doing these things over and over again.
An outside perspective can help you refocus on your core mission. Take a step back today and evaluate your current activities in light of your mission. Determine to do what will really advance your mission—not what the culture demands, what social media mandates, or what critics require. Make this Fall an intensely productive ministry season as you focus on genuinely accomplishing your mission—measuring your success by timeless standards and eternal rewards.