It’s a new year—a time when many of us make resolutions. If you’re like I am, those resolutions are often self-focused. We plan to exercise more, eat less, save more dollars, take more time off, accomplish some long-delayed goals, and generally make this year more productive than the last one.
These resolutions aren’t wrong, but I’d like to challenge you to think more externally and globally with your resolutions this year. The new year is not only an opportunity for a new start. It’s another opportunity of grace to be part of reaching the nations.
“The new year is not only an opportunity for a new start. It’s another opportunity of grace to be part of reaching the nations.”
Here are ten resolutions to consider for 2018.
1. In my quiet time, I will watch for evidence of God’s heart for the nations.
If you look for it, you’ll find it throughout the Scriptures. Highlight texts whenever you see them. The God who called out Abraham to be a blessing to the nations (Gen. 12:1–3) is the God who deserves the worship of all the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations (Rev. 7:9–10).
2. I will pray for missionaries by name at least one day per week.
Maybe you already know a number of missionaries. If not, ask your pastor to help you connect with some for whom you can pray. Come regularly to this site (imb.org) or visit the North American Mission Board website to learn missionary stories, and then pray with intentionality. Sign up at IMB Pray or NAMB: Pray for North America to receive specific prayer requests.
3. I will learn about, and pray weekly, for unreached peoples.
Go to joshuaproject.net, and do some research. Prayerfully choose a people, and pray that the gospel gets to them. Consider this truth: you may be one of the few persons in the world praying for this group.
4. I will learn about internationals in my community.
Missions begins at home, especially when God is bringing the nations to us. Talk to your pastor or local government officials to get demographic information about your community. Talk to the international student office at a local university. Find out who is around you. Get to know them. Share the gospel with them. Pray for them.
5. I will intentionally get to know my international coworkers and neighbors.
The nations may be right around you, but perhaps you haven’t slowed down enough to get to know them. Reach out to them. Invite them to your home. You may be surprised how open they are to spending time with you and talking about spiritual backgrounds.
6. I will plan to take a mission trip this year.
Most of us can go somewhere, even if it’s in the United States. Plan to set aside the dollars and time to be a witness among the nations. If you know you can’t go this year, plan to give financial support so someone else can go. Sacrifice so many might hear the good news.
7. I will listen to and read the news through a Great Commission lens.
As you learn what’s happening in the world, think about what might be happening spiritually in countries in the news. Pray for believers and missionaries there. Then, pray for the people there who don’t know Jesus. Don’t be exasperated by the news—let it drive you to your knees.
“Don’t be exasperated by the news—let it drive you to your knees.”
8. I will visit ethnic restaurants in my area to get to know internationals.
It’s great to go eat, but ask to meet the owners. Talk to your servers to learn about their background. Ask about their faith. Go there regularly, and get to know people in your community who may need Jesus. I think you’ll find many people willing to talk.
9. I will pray that my church pastors have a great passion for the Great Commission.
I’ve never seen a strong mission-minded church without a strong Great Commission pastor and staff. Churches seldom develop a passion that is not exhibited in the pulpit every Sunday. Pray for your pastor, and then follow his lead to the nations.
10. I will honestly consider and answer the question, “Is God calling me to be a full-time missionary?”
Every believer must ask and answer this question. Be open to God’s calling, and listen well through his Word, his Spirit, and his people. And while you’re praying this way, pray for your children and grandchildren to do the same.
I realize I’ve suggested a lot here. Don’t worry about accomplishing all of these goals, but at least start somewhere. Even one resolution toward missions is great if you’ve never had such a resolution in the past. Do something—and have a blessed and obedient 2018!
Chuck Lawless is vice president and dean of graduate studies at Southeastern Seminary and team leader for theological education strategists of the IMB. He is the author of several books, including Nobodies for Jesus, Discipled Warriors and Putting on the Armor. He writes at www.chucklawless.com. Follow him on Twitter @CLawlessjr.