Tools can be very helpful. When the right tool is used, it makes a task much easier and (usually) faster to complete. For example, there are several tools that I could use to trim the shrubs in my yard. I could choose a pair of children’s scissors, but that might actually make the job more difficult. I could choose a set of garden shears. That would definitely be easier than using the children’s scissors, but it would still take a while. (I’m speaking from experience!) To complete the job with minimal time and effort, I’ll use my electric hedge trimmers every time. You see, I’m a fan of working smarter, not harder. And selecting the right tool for the job is critical to working smarter. But this principle doesn’t just apply to landscaping. It applies to all areas of life, including ministry in the church.
The mission of the church is to make disciples of all nations. To say this is a daunting task would be quite the understatement. But just like any task, the church would be wise to utilize tools to help her complete this task. The tool I’m introducing today won’t necessarily make the work of the Great Commission any easier, but it can help your church to develop or improve an existing missions strategy.
Allow me to introduce you to the Missions Matrix. (Please see note at the end of this post regarding similar tools.) It’s a tool that I often use to help a church (or even an association) evaluate how well they are engaged in the Great Commission locally and globally. It is based on Acts 1:8 when Jesus tells his disciples, “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.” From this verse, Jesus identifies four geographic locations (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, end of the earth). In a North American context, these four categories translate very well for us:
- Jerusalem – local
- Judea – state or region
- Samaria – North America
- End of the earth – international
These four locations are the “where” of missions for the local church.
But we still need to answer, how are churches to engage in each of these four areas? Churches are usually encouraged to participate in 3 different ways: (1) praying, (2) giving, and (3) going.
Combining the four locations with the three methods of participation, we get the Missions Matrix:
As you can see, the Missions Matrix produces a total of 12 empty squares. Each empty square represents a missions opportunity for your church. In order to evaluate your church’s current missions engagement, spend some time thinking about each of the 12 squares. If your church is currently engaged in a particular activity (praying, giving, or going) in a specific location, write it down in the square. For example, if your church gives to your local association, write that down in the Local-Pray square. If your church goes on a mission trip to another state, write that down in the North America-Go square.
After you have spent time working through the matrix, you will hopefully have several squares filled in. However, you may find that you still have some empty squares like the example below:
As the example above shows, this sample church has several empty squares in the Prayer and Go categories. Also, they seem to be more active locally than internationally. Your church will no doubt be different, but you get the idea. The empty squares quickly identify opportunities to expand your church’s missions activities.
Once you identify those opportunities, how should your church go about filling those empty squares? Ultimately, that’s a decision unique to each church but it should at least involve the pastor and other appropriate leadership as they pray and seek the Lord’s guidance. The matrix simply helps to point the church in the right direction.
Tools can be very helpful. This Missions Matrix is a simple tool that can assist you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission in your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, as well as the ends of the earth.
Note: This Missions Matrix is similar to other tools, most notably Dr. George Robinson‘s Acts Matrix which was published in 2007 in Striking the Match: How God is Using Ordinary People to Change the World Through Strategic Short-term Missions. My sincere thanks to Dr. Robinson for granting his permission to post a similar tool on this site.