Hebrews 13:7 "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith."
In light of this passage a few brothers and I have been getting together to read through Eckhard J. Schnabel's book Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods and it has been excellent. Here is how Schnabel defines mission in the book:
The term "mission" or "missions" refers to the activity of a community of faith that distinguishes itself from its environment in terms of both religious belief (theology) and social behavior (ethics), that is convinced of the truth claims of its faith and that actively works to win other people to the content of faith and the way of life of whose truth and necessity the members of the community are convinced (22).
So far the book has been gospel-centered and faithful to Scripture. Here is how he describes the purpose of the book:
This is my goal in this book: to provide a close reading of the relevant New Testament texts that help us understand Paul's missionary work - proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and establishing communities of believers - in terms of the goals that he had and in terms of the methods that he used (30).
This book has been great, and it has given us a lot to chew on. After giving a solid chronology of Paul's life and work Schnabel summarizes how Paul identified his missionary task in the content of Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philippians, Corinthians, Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus. After this he summarizes Paul's self-identification of being a missionary in the following list. I am going to begin praying through this list for myself and all the missionaries and pastors that I know!
(1) God is the Lord over all missionary work.
(2) "Success" is the result of God's activity, not men or their methods.
(3) Christ is the content of preaching and the foundation, criterion, and measure of church planting and church growth.
(4) Missionaries are servants of God and His word.
(5) Missionaries make a public proclamation of the victory of God who also leads them.
(6) Paul sees himself as a church-planter establishing new communities of believers.
(7) A missionary's central work is the proclamation of the gospel.
(8) We must pay consistent attention to our listeners.
(9) Paul is not satisfied with the success of his mission, he wants to reach more and more people.
(10) Paul doesn't work alone.
(11) These are the last days, Gentiles don't need to become Jews to then become Christians. Christ is held out to all.
(12) Missionaries, Teachers & Preachers are responsible to God for their work and their motivations.
Schnabel, Eckhard J. Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods (Grand Rapids: IVP Academic, 2008), 151-4.
As we consider Paul's faith together I hope we will only grow more mature in our faith!