Fraser Venter

Fraser Venter

Fraser Venter, D.Min, is the strategic catalyst for love-driven justice on the Free Methodist Church USA Executive Leadership Team. He previously served as the lead pastor of Cucamonga Christian Fellowship in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and as a superintendent of the Free Methodist Church in Southern California. He earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Azusa Pacific University. This article is adapted from his July 1 message to the hundreds of teens attending FMYC 2022.

By Fraser Venter

God is on a mission. We are His holy movement, and we need to start moving.

The Free Methodist Church USA bishops have a vision of igniting a Spirit-fueled movement, and we serve a God who is on mission and moving.

Have you ever asked yourself: What is God’s mission? If you have been around the church, the quickest or the most popular answers are these two:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16–17)

These two passages absolutely are so important — especially this last one. Until we are children of the King, loved by Him, disciple-making doesn’t work.

But if God is on a mission, and we are His holy movement, and we are ready to start moving, a few more things need to be clarified. I think these verses too are a part of God’s mission to help us be a movement:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36–40)

Love has to be part of the mission. Getting people into heaven is amazing, and helping people grow to do so is remarkable.

But Jesus lived a life in front of us that demonstrated what heaven looks like walking around in the flesh, and He gave us His Spirit to model that to the world!

Heaven is the perfect environment of the full abundance of God’s love.

Some days I am in a rush to get to heaven, but until then our mission must be to get heaven into as many people as possible.

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“Our differences are gifts to the body of Christ.”

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The church is full of people waiting for the bus to take them home, but I want to get as many people on the bus. Don’t you?

This is part of God’s mission to help us be a movement.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20–23)

God has called us to a place of unity. Unity is not about uniformity, agreeing about everything, or being alike. God does not have a cookie cutter. God’s goal is not about stamping us all out alike. Our differences are gifts to the body of Christ.

True unity is based on a common goal. It allows individuals to voluntarily come together in hopes of furthering that ideal. Conformity, on the other hand, has a punitive aspect — punishment for noncompliance. If unity is kept through fear of consequence, it has crossed a line.

Conformity is the suppression of individuality. Unity is the celebration of individuality in concert with each other in the mission of the kingdom of God.

The Bible warns us about conformity in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

If we are not the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we are not showing the world that He and the Father are one. Why are racism and sexism so painful to see or experience? Because they are messing with the image of God in all beauty and uniqueness.

Have you ever sat down for a good Thanksgiving dinner and the only things the host puts on the table are some rolls and butter? What kind of feast is that? The food will quickly get old, and the carbs may kill you.

All of these are part of the mission to help us be a movement, but there is one more scripture that is like the secret sauce that we can’t ignore:

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16–20) 

Say this with me: “God is on a mission. You are His holy movement. I am ready to start moving!”

This is how Jesus moved in mission: Love God, and love others. Without love, you are making people followers of you.

The mission of Jesus had movement because He saw that the love He had to bring not only fulfilled the messianic prophesy of Isaiah, but it was the fullness of His identity. It was His story!

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“You are a child of God.”

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When Jesus came out of the water and the Spirt descended on Him, God the Father said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16–17). God was declaring Jesus’ identity.

God also declares your identity, and your identity answers the why and what of the mission. You are a child of God.

Jesus faced the obstacles of temptation right after the baptism declaration. You will also face temptation. You can tell the devil, “Start stepping back, because I am child of the King.”

Luke 4 records that before Jesus read this scroll, He started doing the work. He couldn’t help it, and neither should we. He gives us this roadmap:

A. “The Spirit of the Lord (God) is upon me” (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18 KJV).

The Spirit is in you for your benefit but upon you for the benefit of others.

How are you hosting the Holy Spirit? How are you using the gifts, talent and time He gives you as a good host?

B. “Proclaim good news” (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18).

This gospel (good news) is a kingdom word announcing that God’s kingdom has arrived with all its benefits. For whom?

Recipients include the poor in material, the poor in Spirit, and those crying out for freedom from the chains of their circumstances.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

But your freedom as a believer (and as a Free Methodist) is not just for you but, as Jesus points out in His mission, to bring freedom to others!

In the words of Winnie the Pooh/A.A. Milne, “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

C. “The year of the Lord’s favor” (Isaiah 61:2, Luke 4:19).

Jubilee, “the year of the Lord’s favor,” is a season of restoration, repair, reconciliation and recognition that God is on the move, and He is looking for agents to continue His movement.

Jesus goes on to give an example of how this is done. First people are amazed and applaud Him for what He says. “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips” (Luke 4:22).

Then He shows them what this means (Luke 4:25–27). He shares about a widow and a general who were not culturally/ethnically the same — one oppressed and the other an oppressor. Yet both were the marginalized person that Jesus calls us to reach.

Jesus is telling them and us that they and we deserve to be set free, and God does set people free. The crowd now is not so happy. They want to throw Him off a cliff, but Jesus just walks on through (Luke 4:28-30).

God never runs except when He runs toward the broken and the prodigal (Luke 15).

When you join God on a mission and start to move, you will have opposition, but don’t fear. “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17 NKJV). You serve the God of the impossible as His royal emissary.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2).

God is on a mission. You are His holy movement. Are you ready to start moving?

You will need three things:

1. Your testimony

Your story is important. It is how God formed you.

2. Your gifting.

What do you have in your basket?

3. Your pursuits or passions

God wants to use your uniqueness for the movement.

The center of that uniqueness will be your calling. At the recent Free Methodist Youth Conference, speaker Brock Morgan told the teens, “Embrace your calling.” Christian hip-hop artist C.J. Luckey reminded them, “God has a purpose for your life, but you must participate, and do not hesitate.”

But this is the moment we get freaked out about. Calling seems so big and so adult. But calling wasn’t too big for David, Esther, Mary, or Jesus at age 12 who was growing “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and people” (Luke 2:52 NASB).

Your calling moves you toward your becoming, when you are formed into a witness of whom we worship and serve.

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9).

All this young man had was what was in his basket. Your basket is your story — all the things God has shaped you to be. Your basket includes your gifts and passions (what you love to do). It doesn’t need to look like what I do, but it must be what God wants you to do.

But the basket is an illusion. God doesn’t want your stuff. He wants you.

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“In His hands, you are ready to be used to bless others.”

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He desires to take you and the content of your life in His hands, hold you up in the air, and bless you. He also may need to break some things off you as become more like Him. In His hands, you are ready to be used to bless others.

“And the disciples took up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.” (Mark 6:43-44)

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (John 6:14)

Don’t be afraid, and don’t listen to the voices saying you can’t or you are not enough. As popular memes remind us, “You’ll never be criticized by someone who is doing more than you. You’ll always be criticized by someone doing less.”

The pieces will come together. You are God’s masterpiece. Trust Him.

Go with me for a moment with holy imagination as the boy returned to his home with a handful of leftovers, and his family asked the hows and the whats. In my imagination the boy simply shared, “Today, I saw Jesus, and He used me!”  

How about you?

God is on a mission. You are His holy movement. Are you ready to start moving? Are you ready to start moving toward your calling and your becoming? +

Fraser Venter

Fraser Venter

Fraser Venter, D.Min, is the strategic catalyst for love-driven justice on the Free Methodist Church USA Executive Leadership Team. He previously served as the lead pastor of Cucamonga Christian Fellowship in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and as a superintendent of the Free Methodist Church in Southern California. He earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Azusa Pacific University. This article is adapted from his July 1 message to the hundreds of teens attending FMYC 2022.