Four Major Keys to Taking the Gospel to the Ends of the Earth welcomes guest writer Doug Sarver. Sarver is the Minister of Global Missions at Cross Church Northwest Arkansas.

timthumb.phpAt Cross Church we are often asked, “How does the local church effectively take the Gospel around the world?” As Minister of Global Missions at this great church, serving under an incredible, visionary pastor for over 21 years, I have discovered and learned many things relating to this question. I want to share with you four major keys to taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In doing so, I also want to share some amazing things God is doing through Cross Church.

First: Have A “Birthed Vision” 

Too many churches want the easy way out and a “quick fix” for how to be missional. Churches often study other ministries then copy most of what others do and call it their own. The first key to Gospel advancement is to truly have what I call the “birthed vision.” When you think about your church’s missional vision, ask yourself, “Have we been before God humbly asking Him for His vision for our church and ministry?” If not, all you have is borrowed vision.

I am grateful for the missional vision of Cross Church: “Reaching Northwest Arkansas, America, and the World for Jesus Christ.” This vision was birthed straight out of the heart of Jesus Christ in Acts 1:8. Cross Church is committed to ministry that extends deeply into our community, yet penetrates globally. This vision keeps us focused and provides a filter for all we do missionally as a church. This whole principle of a birthed vision allows us to dream and create with inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Over the years we have birthed ministries that are impacting hundreds and thousands. I will speak to these ministries later.

The takeaway – birth your vision, don’t borrow it

Second: Be Balanced In Your Ministry Target

The Cross Church missional vision creates the platform for balance in our ministry target. We are strongly involved in local, regional, national, and international missions. I would argue that Cross Church is one of the more balanced ministries in our nation. Allow me to illustrate:

Locally and regionally we are involved in IMPACT ministries that bring the Gospel to our community seven days a week using a fully equipped moving van. This IMPACT van is retrofitted for the side panel to drop down and form a stage. It has current technology for audio and visual presentations and a full range of games and activities. Weekly, our IMPACT volunteers are in various multi-family housing communities proclaiming the Gospel to 400-500 people. Through our IMPACT ministry many hear about Christ for the first time and come to faith in Jesus resulting in restored families and communities.

Our Compassion Center is a ministry center that also has a thrift store, which generates revenue for missions. This is also where we house our Cross Compassion ministry and regularly meet the needs of hundreds. We offer English as a second language classes, job skills and computer training, free haircuts, grocery giveaways, a laundry ministry, and much more — always being faithful to share the Gospel with every person involved. Since opening in September 2011, we have seen 153 people come to faith in Christ through the Compassion Center.

Nationally, Cross Church is in a major effort to plant Gospel centered, reproducing churches. Presently we are partnering with 51 new churches globally. This past Easter, five of these churches formally launched their worship services resulting in 525 people gathering for worship. Cross Church mission teams and prayer support are mobilized throughout the year for North American missions. Additionally, we are strongly committed to disaster relief in North America. Cross Church has disaster relief units used for distributing meals as well as mud-out and chainsaw recovery teams. Recently during Super Storm Sandy we sent many people and dollars to help families restore their lives. Through that effort the Gospel was shared with many.

Cross Church has international partnerships in Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Hungary, India, Malawi, Brazil, Ethiopia, and two other high security countries. Ministries include church planting, Gospel advancement, orphan and widow ministries, pastoral development, feeding, medical clinics, and much more.

As you can see, there is a balanced approach geographically yet also balanced in ministry diversity.

The takeaway – balance your ministry target 

Third: Boldly Proclaim The Gospel

Whether it is a kids club, caring for an orphan, or feeding the poor we must always boldly proclaim the Gospel. Look at these examples. Over the last year we have seen over 9,200 people profess faith in Jesus Christ through the missional activity of Cross Church. Just this past week we received a report of two churches in Malawi baptizing over 50 new believers. Last month in India over a dozen people trusted Christ. Through our local jail ministry we saw 59 saved this past month. Yes, we do believe in boldly proclaiming the Gospel! Remember, the Gospel is the power of God through which you and your church will impact all eternity. If the Gospel is separated from other social or justice ministries, our efforts will be temporal at best.

The takeaway – boldly proclaim the Gospel in all you do

Fourth: Building The Kingdom Of God Beyond Your Church

Cross Church builds the Kingdom of God beyond our church campuses through investing in others and giving away of resources to Gospel centered people and ministries. Through the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention, Cross Church supports thousands of missionaries in hundreds of cities and countries globally. Over the years we have committed to grow in our Cooperative Program giving to the point where we now are in the top 25 churches in Cooperative Program giving. Our Pastor and leadership are committed to continue our giving to the Cooperative Program aggressively.

Additionally, we are giving hundreds of thousands to church planting efforts in North America and internationally. Just last year, we have supported more than 730 people on short-term missionary journeys. We financially support pastors in many countries. Funds are in place to adopt an entire state in northern India that will reach many unengaged, unreached people groups. We have financially sponsored the recording of the oral Bible in the Marshallese and Sindhi languages. All of these efforts are for the purpose of building the Kingdom of God beyond Cross Church. We pray that it will always be said that Cross Church is a generous church that practices Kingdom building in an unselfish way.

The takeaway – build the Kingdom of God unselfishly for God’s glory

If we as Christ followers and Christian leaders will adopt and practice these four keys, I believe we will be better at taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

timthumb.phpDoug Sarver

Minister of Global Missions
Cross Church Northwest Arkansas

Today Is A Difficult Day

I would have never imagined many years ago, that I would be facing what I am facing today. At 2 p.m. today, I will conduct and bring the message at the Memorial Service for Dr. Keith Thomas. Please pray for me. Keith and I have been dear friends since college.

KeithThomasPraying On A Fairway

I am not much of a golfer at all. Yet, at a pastors’ retreat in Florida, over six years ago, I received a call from Keith telling me he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We were driving the cart down the fairway — I stopped absolutely stunned at those words. Immediately, I shared the news with the three pastors I was with. All of us knew what this meant. We stopped right there on the fairway, got on our knees, and begged God to heal and sustain Keith.

We Can Learn From One Another

Yesterday, I challenged pastors to learn from other pastors. If you did not see my blog from yesterday, please read it. All followers of Jesus Christ can learn from other followers of Christ. I continue to be amazed at how much I do not know and how much I learn from other believers.

You may be having a difficult day or facing one in the near future. Learn from others who have walked before you. Do not live life on your own island, isolating yourself from others. We need each other.

We Need Prayer Support

Today, I need you to pray for Karen Thomas and her family as they go through this difficult day as we memorialize the death and celebrate the life of her husband and the children’s father. Additionally, pray for Pastor Rick and Kay Warren in the grief they feel in the loss of their 27-year-old son Matthew. As their hearts walk in deep grief and loss, both families grieve with hope.

As well, pray for me. I am carrying a lot on my back today and in fact, I need to read my own blog I wrote on Monday. Perhaps it will encourage you also. I am but a man and a very weak man today. I need the prayer support of the people of God. I want to honor Jesus today and my dear friend, Keith Thomas.

A Special Moment In 1997

In 1997, I served as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference. Never would I have thought while listening to my friend preach, whom I had personally asked to preach at that event, that almost 16 years later, I would be conducting his Memorial Service.

Take The Time To Watch This

When Keith preached that afternoon at that pastors’ conference, this was his message. Please take the time to watch it. Perhaps it will encourage you.

Yours For The Great Commission,

Ronnie Floyd