Spirit of Mission
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:6-10)
The role of the Holy Spirit in our mission is very clear biblically. When Jesus commissioned His disciples he said, “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49.) Jesus set forth the mission but instructed them to not go immediately, but instead to wait until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. He had given them the mission, modeling and teaching the message as well as training them. However one vital thing was necessary and that was the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
We will never accomplish the mission with pragmatic thinking or action, such as going where the perceived need is. In fact, these things can hinder us from listening to God and responding to God. He must guide our mission as he orchestrates his work around the world. We will never accomplish the mission without the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power. He is the power in all ministries and without His power and presence we accomplish nothing.
We are absolutely dependent upon the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in all activities of life and mission. Without the Holy Spirit we will neither have lasting fruit nor gain true followers of Jesus. He is the Spirit of mission; no Holy Spirit, no true mission. Without the Spirit we may make disciples of our church or movement, but not true disciples of Jesus. We are given authority by Jesus to take the gospel and make disciples in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the key to strategy, guidance, success, and power in presenting the gospel. We do plan, but our best efforts are futile without the Holy Spirit.
Our forward progress has been the result of the Holy Spirit speaking to us in prayer, most often prophetically. This is the story of Newfrontiers. God speaks and we then make our plans and go. We have even ceased doing very successful things when the Holy Spirit spoke to us. We were gathering over 25,000 annually in England at an event called “Stoneliegh Bible Week” but God spoke to us to close it as he had other things for us instead. Sometimes our success can be our greatest danger. The result of following the Spirit’s leading has been an amazing increase in mission, seeing hundreds of churches planted in many new nations.
The Holy Spirit is crucial in beginning new apostolic endeavors, finding our place in ministry, and the reproduction of church life. The Holy Spirit spoke and sent out an amazing expansion of church planting in Acts 13:2,9-52. Without the Holy Spirit we will have no fruit or real life in the church. Without the Holy Spirit we become a dead work, just another organization. The Holy Spirit was the very essence of the power in Paul’s ministry. Paul and his team enjoyed success and guidance because of the Spirit’s direction and power in his life.
Without the power of the Holy Spirit the church is not empowered and is no different from any other charitable organization. The Spirit grants us our distinctiveness as the people of God. No Holy Spirit means no true mission. He is the Spirit of mission. May our lives and churches be filled with the Holy Spirit!