By Penny Brink
Jesus said: “Go 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 I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19, 20). We call this the Great Commission. We often think that the imperative, “Go!” means that we need to get on a vehicle, ship or plane, or even go on foot like those first disciples did, in order to reach all the nations. The world is, however, a very different place now. Much has changed since then, and we need to see how best to continue God’s mission on earth.
"My all in response to God’s all,” is, our slogan—an attempt to explain, in short, the all-encompassing doctrine of stewardship that includes the returning of God’s tithe and systematic giving of free-will offerings."
The Stewardship Ministries Department at the General Conference provides many services, including training, which requires travel to many countries around the world. People are thus equipped to share the important message of stewardship. “My all in response to God’s all,” is, our slogan—an attempt to explain, in short, the all encompassing doctrine of stewardship that includes the returning of God’s tithe and systematic giving of free-will offerings. We reported this year that the department had visited 86 countries over the last 5 years. The cost all of those trips, however, can add up.
In September 2014, the department decided to embrace technology and stream live 24 half-hour seminars by 15 experts in four languages.1 We reached 83 countries with nearly 5000 log-ons, some of which represented up to 200 people watching together in a room. In just one weekend, this event reached almost the same number of countries, and possibly as many people, for a tiny fraction of the travel costs.
This is one of the wonderful efficiencies technology affords. While saving costs is something a good steward might be interested in, this, however, is not the purpose for sharing this story. The real significance of this kind of online event is that it fulfills the imperative, “Go!” In today’s world, there is a continent that did not exist in Jesus day, i.e. the digital continent. The world has changed, and if we are to be obedient to the Great Commission, we need to go to where the people are. The wise use of technology, where it is available, is therefore an imperative—Jesus’ imperative for today.
The Internet is not the only form of technology that needs promotion. There are many others. I think of my friend Enoch, who has worked for the Hope Channel for many years in Africa. He used a self-made machine of bicycle parts with which he bent triangular pieces of sheet metal that were combined to make satellite dishes. These dishes were much cheaper and produced a better quality signal than the ones you could buy. Those were the days when C-band and Net Events were the way in which Hope was broadcast. The “dish” was the latest technology. Things have progressed and Enoch has continued to be at the forefront of innovation! I like this kind of story because it shows that technology provides the opportunity for the talented, the talkers and the treasure-laden followers of Jesus to each contribute uniquely to the mission of the church. We all need to get behind technology in some way.
"He used a self-made machine of bicycle parts with which he bent triangular pieces of sheet metal that were combined to make satellite dishes."
Create with Technology
Recently, I attended a class called “The Practice of Mission.” It was very inspiring. Thorough analysis shows how mission has been carried out over the years. It reveals how we need to adjust things in order to be effective in an ever changing and increasingly diverse world. In one sense mission sounds quite complicated, yet Jesus’ call is ever clear and simple: “Go!” Make disciples. Baptize them. Teach them everything I have taught you.
It is perhaps important to notice that Jesus is talking to everyone who is already a disciple. Equally significant is the fact that He leaves the “how to” up to us, our individual creativity and His spiritual gifts. Let’s be creative, then, shall we?
I think of the engineers at Adventist World Radio beaming shortwave programs to unknown territories and streaming them online with millions of podcast downloads per day. I think of my friend and extraordinary photographer, Dick Duerksen, who sends a Friday photo or two every week by email with an inspiring caption about the beauty of God’s creation. I think of my classmate, Daniel, who decided to go for ten days without various privileges, like shoes and the use of his legs, in order to know how better to minister to those facing such challenges.2 All of these people use whatever opportunities God has given them—their gifts and their circumstances—to help fulfill God’s mission on earth.
Empower with Technology
These examples tell me that mission does not have to be complicated. The Great Commission is also a personal mission. While organization is important and can be efficient, each and every one of us needs to go! Mission does not have to wait. Mission is my personal obedience to Jesus’ imperative. Mission is when I have been on my knees in gratitude, knowing that I have been saved by His blood, and I get up and go and tell someone how much I love Him and why.
"We used to say, “each one, reach one,” but technology allows me the freedom to conduct my personal ministry with an instantaneously wider reach than those early disciples ever dreamed possible!"
We used to say, “each one, reach one,” but technology allows me the freedom to conduct my personal ministry with an instantaneously wider reach than those early disciples ever dreamed possible! All I have to do is to tell my story in my own creative way and in one moment I can potentially reach the entire digital continent, and beyond! There are only two questions: Am I a disciple? Will I go?
"Duplicating yourself" is a concept made possible by technology. When Jesus said, "make disciples" He was essentially saying, "duplicate yourself." The question in this cyber-age is whether we are living lives worthy of duplication. Be a true disciple, then make more.
Technology Aids Giving...
Pr. Sunjjin of the Remnant Adventist Church in Silver Spring, MD, USA, tells how he invited a visiting church leader from India to preach one Sabbath. The preacher related some interesting details about the mission plans in his home territory. One project included the need for a boat. There were villages along a certain river’s edge that could best be reached from the water and they needed money for a mission boat. He made an appeal to the members there that day. Unbeknown to him, the congregation has an online presence and their sermons are streamed live. An Adventist living in England—a past student of Pr. Sunjjin when he was a vice principal at a college in India—was watching and felt impressed to support the boat project. He was able to contact the relevant people and make a substantial gift. We would say, “It’s a small world!” The Internet only intensifies that statement and presents opportunities that we should all embrace.
1. Watch the Dynamic Stewards video series, free, online: vimeopro.com/user10937457/online-stewardship-conference-videos