Ask Me Anything, hosted by Pastor J.D. Greear, gives quick answers to some of your toughest theological, ethical, and leadership questions. For both mature and new believers alike, Ask Me Anything will help listeners grow in their understanding of a topic and point them to helpful resources to continue learning on their own. Ask Me Anything is part of the LifeWay Leadership Podcast Network. For more information, visit JDGreear.com.
How can my gifts and resources be leveraged for the Great Commission?
I’ll answer your question with a question—the same question I ask every college graduate at The Summit Church:
You’ve got to get a job somewhere. Why not get a job in a place where God is doing something strategic?
Whatever you do, do it well for the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God. We challenge our college graduates to let the mission of God be the most significant factor in determining where and how they pursue their careers. We challenge them to dedicate the first two years after they graduate to join a church planting team working somewhere in North America or around the globe. We call it the “Go2 Challenge.”
Whether you are in college considering what God has for you next, at a transitional point in your career, or nearing retirement, why not consider investing two years directly into the mission of God?
Here’s a few questions you might have:
“Won’t Going for Two Years Mess Up My Career?”
College students sometimes ask me, “If I pause my career for two years, won’t I be behind?” Well, first, who says you have to pause it? The idea is that perhaps you can pursue your career in a location where you can be a part of a church plant. But even if you do pause it, like I did, it likely won’t set you back. If anything, it likely will help it.
Look through the biographies of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and you’ll find that many of them had a post-college stint in the military or the Peace Corps. Living intentionally on mission, particularly in a challenging context, builds character in ways that no internship or apprenticeship can. These settings yield lifelong benefits. A friend of mine, who oversees one of the largest college scholarship and young leadership development programs in America, recently told me, “There’s a reason Mormons are so disproportionately represented in the upper echelons of business leadership. A lot of it goes back to the character development that takes place in their two-year mission.”
After being on a team like this for a couple of years, God may lead you to plant your life there permanently. That’s what happens to many of those we send from our church. Others return knowing they gave the first and best of their careers to God, something God surely will bless. Jesus said, after all, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). That verse applies to your career, too.
“How Can I Find Out About Opportunities?”
Great question. In the denomination our church participates in (the Southern Baptist Convention), it North American Mission Board has established 50 “Send Cities” which are under-churched and in which they can help partner you with a new church plant.
Additionally, our International Mission Board has a number of two-year programs that can place you on a team serving somewhere overseas in the least reached places on earth.
Your denomination or local church probably has its own connections. Groups like Cru, Frontiers, Campus Outreach, and Radical have cross-denominational opportunities you can access as well.
If all that sounds too tough, just move to Raleigh and join the The Summit Church. We’ll send you out from here! Kidding. Sort of. I mean, we won’t turn you away. Just come on over and we’ll figure it out.
You can find out more about these (and other) options at go2years.net.
“Do I Need to Leave Behind My Job?”
Maybe. For many, you will be able to find a job in your career field in one of these places. If so, you’ll be able to go without having to raise money. Financially, you’ll be a net-positive for the mission!
God calls some to leverage their careers, for others to leave them, and for others to lead a church.
What’s on your bucket list? And why are you against it?
Pastor J.D. talks about why it’s time we kick our bucket lists and do the one thing now that we can’t do in eternity—share the gospel.
A glimpse inside this episode:
I often hear people today talk about “bucket lists.” You know, all those things you want to do before you kick the bucket because you assume you’ll never have a chance to do them again.
The handful of experiences that have lived up to expectations:
Becoming a Christian
Marrying Veronica and having children
Visiting Kauai, Hawaii
Others I’d like to do:
Hike the Inca trail
Climb Mt. Everest
Fly to the moon
But does that make sense for the Christian?
The book of Revelation tells us that at the resurrection, Jesus ushers us into the “new heavens and new earth.”
Scholars say new means “renewed.” That means that heaven is not some ethereal existence in the clouds where we sit around in diapers with Nerf bow and arrows playing the harp. Heaven is a new, renewed version of this earth, without the curse of sin.
That means that up there I’ll get to experience a perfected version of all the things I missed out on down here. All the mountains, stars, rivers, oceans, planets, animals, culture, arts, music, architecture, and extreme sports that I never got to experience here are waiting for me there.
Revelation 21:26 even says that God will bring into heaven “the glory and honor of the nations” (CSB), which means he brings in the best of culture. The best Italian food. The best of Arabian architecture. The best art. Mardi Gras without the debauchery. Disney World without the lines. The Jersey Shore without the Jersey.
It’s time to kick the bucket list. You don’t have to worry about anything you miss out on here. Instead, you can focus on leveraging your few remaining moments for eternity.
You see, there is one thing we can’t do there that we can do here: tell people about Jesus.
If you want to put something on a bucket list, make it sharing the gospel with as many people as possible. The people alive in the world during this generation have one shot to hear the gospel, and it’s us.
So before you kick the bucket, kick your bucket list. For eternity, you’ll be glad you did.
Pastor J.D.’s new book, What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?, is available now for pre-order.
J.D., why aren't you a missionary since you spend so much time talking about missions?
Pastor J.D. shares how God called him to the mission field before calling him to be a pastor of a church that sends and supplies the mission field in extravagant ways.
A glimpse inside this episode:
When God called me to be a pastor, he did so by first calling me to the mission field. I spent the first two years of my ministry as a church planter among Muslims overseas. God never relinquished that call to missions; he showed me that my role in it is to be a part of a church that sends and supplies the mission field.
Even though my primary role in the Great Commission is now as an equipper, it is always such a joy to get back on the front lines. Sure, it can be frustrating not being able to speak the language. But I share Christ more, person to person, in a two-week span than I probably do the entire rest of the year here in the States. It is my identity there, the entire reason I had go short term now. So when an opportunity comes up, I simply share the gospel. I wasn’t “Pastor J.D.” there. I was just “J.D. the guy talking about Jesus.” I want that to last: I want to just be the “Jesus guy” even here.
Follow-Up Question: How do you know if you're called to overseas missions?
References: Nehemiah 2:12, Acts 13:2, Isaiah 6.
Picture a Venn Diagram with these three circles: Affinity, Ability, Affirmation. Where do these things overlap?
Pastor J.D.'s new book, What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?, is available now for pre-order.
How should Christians respond to the protests happening across the country?
Pastor J.D. is joined by Pastor Bryan Loritts for a special edition of Ask Me Anything where they look at the events of the past week.
A glimpse inside this episode:
Immediately: Bear one another’s burdens, grieve with those who grieve. Love your neighbors as yourself. Pursue empathy. Relieve yourself of the burden of having to come up with answers, and take a posture of humility. Even in the face of Martha saying something untrue, Jesus listened and wept with Mary and Martha (John 11). He didn’t immediately correct her theology.
Longterm: We need a full-court press from the three institutions created by God, the family, the government, and the church, in dealing with the issues of systemic racism. Considering a healthy spiritual upbringing of our children, considering how we vote, and considering the heart change that happens with the gospel. God's strategy for dealing with the problem of sin as part of the new covenant was not dealing with it from the outside in but from the inside out (Jeremiah and Ezekiel). Imagine the power of Ahmaud Arbery in a small group relationship with the McMichaels--where they’re all redeemed and getting to know each other. Proximity breeds empathy; distance breeds suspicion.
When something happens to one part of the body of Christ, it happens to all of us. That’s where we start. Don’t rush past lamenting into problem solving. “White evangelicals have a PhD in statistics and a third grade education in empathy” - Bryan Loritts, Insider Outsider
On social media, do the same: don’t rush to problem solving but spend time lamenting and empathizing. Simply, “We are with you.” Instead of being paralyzed by not having the answers, make yourself available.
What Are the Three Most Important Things for a New Believer to Do Immediately?
Pastor J.D. discusses the three most important things for new believers to do as they begin their relationship with Christ.
A glimpse inside this episode:
#1: Learn how to spend time with God.
* There’s absolutely nothing that will benefit you more than spending time with God every single day.
* Find a time that works for you, and set aside time.
* Start with 10-15 minutes if you need to, but make sure you have time to read Scripture and spend time praying.
* A lot of people who start well in the Christian life don’t always end well — like in the parable of the seed. The problem with the seed, though, is that it didn’t go deep enough.
* I recommend reading a book of the Bible all the way through, rather than trying to read the whole thing front-to-back.
* The book of Mark is a great place to start.
* We advocate the “HEAR” method here at our church. Highlight, Examine, Apply, Respond.
#2: Plug into a gospel-centered local church and get involved.
* You’ve gotta be known, you’ve gotta be serving… there’s just something essential about the local church.
* Yes, you can get podcasts like this one and sermons online and that’s great, but good content can’t replace being a part of the church.
* Even though it doesn’t technically have to be your nearest Summit Collaborative church, I am of the opinion that they’re the best… even though I may be a little biased.
* Seriously though, it’s vital to get plugged into a local church that preaches the Word of God right away.
* If you’re not sure where to start, ask some friends that are believers where they go.
* Or, look around online, and make sure you read the “What we believe” section of the church’s website.
* One of the best analogies for the body of Christ is… well, the actual body. When I have an itch on my left arm, my body sends a message to my mind which sends a message to my hand telling me to itch. It doesn’t just magically happen.
* In the same way, if you’ve cut yourself off from the church, you’ve cut yourself off from one of the ways God has to meet your needs.
But do you really need the church?
#3: Get into a small group.
* You need to be able to ask questions and get honest answers.
* You need to be able to be honest with people about struggles and sin.
* You need accountability.
* And, you need people to have fun with and live life with that have the same beliefs as you.
* A small group is a great connection point of connection.
* Your friends are the future you. You will be the average of your 5 closest friends in 5 years.
* So when you’re in a small group where people are calling out things to you and about you and preaching doctrine constantly, that’s a big step in the right direction.
* You need someone to help you know God. A lot of people never take that initiative.
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Why Are You a Southern Baptist, Anyway?
Pastor J.D. talks about the importance of doctrine, values, and mission when aligning with a denomination and shares some of his convictions.
A glimpse inside this episode:
I am Southern Baptist, not by birth but by choice.
* There is no group whose doctrine, values, and mission I line up with more than Southern Baptists.
* A lot of people wonder what the usefulness of denominations is, especially when they can unfortunately create a lot of divisiveness inside and outside of their membership. However, I really believe that we can do more for the kingdom of God when we work together than we could ever do alone.
First, cooperation amongst similarly-minded churches is a good thing, without question.
Second, I also believe institutions are good.
* Tim Keller has a chapter in the book “Center Church” on movements, and how movements and institutions need each other. Movements are fun and exciting, and institutions can seem boring, but the two need each other.
* Movements without institutions lack staying power.
* Several years ago, Southern Baptists had fallen off the map in the domestic church planting game. There were a couple other groups in the U.S. had really taken off, and they had really charismatic speakers.
* But one of these other groups, at the height of their popularity (hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers!), talked about their pipeline. They had fewer than 100 people in it!
* Meanwhile, Southern Baptist seminaries graduate 3,500 people a year. Even if you cut that in half, or in half again, or in half AGAIN, you’d still end up with more than the pipeline of that other, “cooler” movement.
The SBC is a tool. If you have a tool and it gets dull and you can’t use it anymore, what do you do? Throw it away. But that’s not where we are with the SBC.
* Sure, there are some headaches, but I believe that the ability it gives us to work together is worth it.
Unity in essential, uniformity in non-essentials. Truth trumps a faux unity.
* One of the core reasons I’m a Southern Baptist is because of the doctrine. The SBC’s official statement of faith: the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. This document clearly and concisely lays out a biblical belief system that lines up very, very closely with my own. So much so, in fact, that our church has adopted it as our official statement of faith.
* Narrow enough to keep us united on the essentials and broad enough for us to disagree on non-essentials.
J.D., I do have another question: why don’t you have “Baptist” in your church’s name?
* Good question. We used to be, officially, Homestead Heights Baptist Church and The Summit Church was more like our “nickname.” We even used to say that!
* We’re in North Carolina, but I call it the “hole” in the Bible belt… you know, the leather goes around it.
* We found that some people had preconceived notions about us (some good, some bad) because of the name of our church before they even walked through the door.
* For us, the name was an obstacle. I don’t advocate every church do this, and we didn’t want to lose our Baptist identity.
* Our church makes it pretty clear to even the casual observer that that’s who we are, and I frequently mention it in my sermons. We make it crystal clear in our membership course.
The sponsor for this week’s episode:
For more than 25 years, Portable Church® has helped thousands of churches launch strong and thrive in a mobile setting. They design custom solutions that fit each budget, vision, and venue. Everything you need to launch a mobile church —...
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