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  • Ron Gladden



During World War II, if an unidentified soldier appeared suddenly in the dark and could not state his mission, he was automatically shot on the spot. Imagine if we re-instituted that policy today!

Are you clear about your mission?

My personal mission statement contains three and a half points (try to picture a 3.5-legged stool). And it explains why I have devoted my life to equipping teams of leaders to start churches.

1. Jesus loves me: this I know. I was blessed with a dad and mom who were one thousand percent sure that God is love. They loved each other, they loved people they knew as well as those they didn’t, and they loved each of their kids. My siblings and I grew up in the atmosphere of grace and unconditional love. During my mid-teen years, I foolishly took a detour of rebellion against God and everyone else in authority, but I never could fully escape from God’s love and from my parents’ prayers.

On Monday, March 19, 1973, I was a busy college student with a clear to-do list (go to class, take good notes, crank out the assignments, and then go crazy the rest of the day). Giving my life completely to Jesus was not on the list. But the Spirit broke through, and I ended up on my knees. I offered my life to Jesus. God washed away all of the junk and gave me a new heart. I found my dusty Bible, grabbed a pen, and wrote these words inside the cover: I have irrevocably committed my life to Jesus Christ. Because of His promise to save me, I have promised to remain loyal to Him always. I’m a child of the King. I signed my name below those words because I meant it.

I wasn’t perfect then, and I’m not perfect now, but I’ve never swerved from that decision. I know that Jesus loves me — and the most important part of my life is loving Him in return.

2. Life is a mission trip. It’s wonderful that God loves me and that He gave His Son for me, but my second big decision was to focus my life outward. To take the blessings God had given me and use them to bless others. Jesus was the 180-degree opposite of selfish, and it eventually became clear to me that someone who aspires to the character and priorities of Jesus turns his life into a 24/7/365 mission trip.

John Wooden said it this way: “A life not lived for others is a life not lived.” Like in every area of life, I’m not perfect at this, but I give it the best shot I can. I carry the names of people in my wallet who seem as far from God as I once was; I pray for them every day. I love giving to my local church and to Matthew 25 projects. My wife and I are delighted to help a single mom in Uganda. Our family prays that everyone in our neighborhood will go to heaven someday. (One of these days, you have to hear the surprising story of our massage therapist neighbor!)

I know that the money, energy, gifts, and time that God has granted me were not given for my benefit alone, but to try and show God’s love to others and to help them however I can.

3. The local church is the hope of the world. It’s awesome when individual Christians decide to live life on mission, but the collective impact of a whole gang of Jesus followers is immeasurably powerful. Jesus’s call to demonstrate love to the under-resourced (Matthew 25) and to spread the gospel to the entire world (Matthew 28) happens best when individuals jump on the bandwagon together — and everyone does their part.

God’s design to reach a city is a healthy, unselfish, growing local church. Para-church ministries that keep their priorities straight can do a lot of good, but the cycle of receiving God’s grace, worshiping Him, choosing to turn outward and bless others, and collaborating together feeds on itself and produces synergy, momentum, and changed lives.

Bill Hybels’ face is painted with passion when he says, “There is nothing like the local church when the local church is working right.” Together, we can and we must push forward the kingdom of grace. We have to do whatever it takes to create healthy local churches.

3.5. God uses courageous leaders to change the world. When Jerusalem was in ruins, God prompted Nehemiah to stick his neck out and beg the king for permission and provisions. When the Philistines were making fun of God, Jonathan nudged his armor bearer and whispered, “Let’s go. Maybe God will be with us!”

God still works that way today. He hopes, and He longs for people to step up and say, “I’m pretty sure I’m not the greatest leader on God’s green earth, and I wasn’t born courageous, but I will go. I will pray, plan, and proceed with every armor bearer who is willing to join me.”

If anyone wonders why I started Mission Catalyst, now you know. How about it? Let’s go. Maybe God will be with us!

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