Missions mindset should shape what we do
By Kayla Rinker
ST. LOUIS – According to Vince Blubaugh, above all else, Missouri Baptists must strive to become more missional.
The concept of missional living was the heart of the message delivered by Blubaugh, church planting strategist for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and deliverer of the missions report sermon Oct. 28 during the MBC’s annual meeting.
And he was not the only speaker to say so. Every missionary and pastor who walked on stage during the missions report testified to the importance of seeking the Great Commission first, whether it is in regard to the lost living on the other side of the world or to a non-believing neighbor living down the street.
“Missions is not just a line item on the church budget,” Blubaugh said. “Missions is what we are … it’s who we are. And you know what? If you’re a Christian, as in a Christ follower, you don’t have a choice.”
Before becoming a church planting strategist, Blubaugh found success selling NASCAR sponsorships. He even had the honor of meeting seven-time NASCAR Championship winner and racing legend Richard Petty.
“Eventually I met Jeff Turner, the senior vice president of Hendrick Motorsports,” Blubaugh said. “Jeff was contracting sponsors for them and I was meeting him in his big office and my head was just swimming with the possibilities.”
Then tragedy occurred. While attending an MBC annual meeting one year in Kansas City, Blubaugh received a phone call from his colleague, Skip Fox. He told Blubaugh that Jeff Turner had died in a plane crash that night.
“I was sick to my stomach,” he said. “One thought just kept making me crazy and I asked, ‘Skip, was Jeff a Christian?’ I had known Jeff for three years. All Skip said was, ‘Vince, I don’t know.’ Jeff became a means to an end for me. I never even bothered to share the love I had found in my life with him.”
Jeff Turner’s death was a turning point for Blubaugh.
“Never again!” he said. “After that God put a passion in me that will not go away. God used what happened to Jeff to show me the urgency of the dying people all around me.”
Blubaugh said that of the 6.2 million people living in Missouri, 5 million of them are lost. He said there are 89 languages spoken in Missouri and only about one-third of them are represented in the state’s churches.
“We need to be missional,” he said. “We also need to contextualize the great commandment found in Matthew 22:36-39. We need to take that along with the Great Commission and put those together and take it to the people. Our mission should be to see people become born again, for them to be discipled and then to watch them reproduce themselves.”
Blubaugh described just that when he talked about his first church plant in Rockaway Beach. He said when Bridge of Faith Community Church first opened its doors both the city and the state were divided over an amendment that would allow casinos to come to the city of Rockaway Beach.
“We did not start Bridge of Faith to defeat casinos in Rockaway Beach,” Blubaugh said. “We came to Rockaway because the people there needed to hear about Jesus and how he died on the cross and how he wants to save them. Here is my now-tested theory: Once the community and people of Rockaway got saved and joined our church, the casino issue went away all by itself. That’s what happened.”
He said the people of Rockaway Beach had not heard much about the Lord for more than 60 years.
“We need to be going to places that are dark,” he said. “We are to be missional because it is biblical.”
In his message, Blubaugh referred to a scripture he called his “life verse,” Acts 20:24. It reads: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace.”
“Are you willing to give up your life for this purpose?” Blubaugh challenged. “You can’t do this half-cocked. The point is, in your life is Jesus Lord or not? Are you willing to give up your life for the Gospel? Become missional.”
He concluded by saying that time is running out for the lost in Missouri and around the world.
“I wish there had been a timer over Jeff Turner’s head in May of 2005 when I was with him that said ‘150 days,’” Blubaugh said. “Time was running out for Jeff. We need to fix our hearts. If we need to repent, we should begin by being focused on evangelizing the lost people of this state. We do that and God will fix us. The truth is, I am just one beggar telling the other beggars where the bread is.”