Home > Blog > Don’t Just Stand There Gazing, Engage

December 1, 2016

Don’t Just Stand There Gazing, Engage

By Daniel Im

Every month, Plus Members get video enhanced training from Ministry Grid on topics like leadership, ministry systems, residencies, multiplication, church planting, and multisite.  In this training video, Philip Nation, Pastor of FBC Bradenton, discusses how to lead believers to engage in the mission of God.

*Plus Members can watch this entire segment by logging in and clicking here.

Don’t Just Stand There Gazing, Engage

I love a facet of the missional picture in Acts 1. In verse 6, the inquisitive disciples ask Jesus if this is the time He will restore the kingdom of Israel? Jesus’ reply refocuses their attention, not on the restoration of God’s kingdom, but on His followers being His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.

After Jesus shares what they are to do (be His witnesses), He is taken up into heaven. As the disciples stand around gazing into heaven, two men stand beside them and say, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” It’s almost as if the two men tell the disciples to quit standing around gazing into the sky, and rather get busy with engaging in God’s mission. John Stott puts it this way, “There was something fundamentally anomalous about their gazing up into the sky when they had [just] been commissioned to go to the ends of the earth. . . . Their calling was to be witnesses not stargazers.” [1] In short, they weren’t to stand around gazing—waiting on Jesus’ return—they were to engage in God’s mission.

I think the exhortation the two men gave the disciples that day rings true for the contemporary believer and church. Many seem to be standing around gazing at the latest church fad and how they can implement it in their church; gazing at how many likes and retweets they get from their recent witty or winsome post; gazing at the news cycle and fretting over the country’s and world’s future; gazing at how their “to do” list continues to grow; and gazing into how to develop a program for mission rather than leading people to engage in mission. The reality is, while many may be gazing at something “good”—just as the disciples were—they miss out on engaging in the “Great” Commission.

In the latest Ministry Grid training series, Philip Nation, Senior Pastor of FBC Bradenton, discusses at least two ways believers and churches can stop standing and gazing and start engaging in the mission of God.

Cross Self-Imposed Boundaries

Recently, my family went shopping on Black Friday. Normally I don’t like to go shopping on that day, but because I wanted my wife to be happy I gladly and actively participated. But the reason why I normally do not cross the shopping threshold on Black Friday is because I don’t want to sit in traffic, drive around looking for a parking spot, or stand in the long checkout lines. For me, these are some self-imposed boundaries that I’ve created and don’t want to cross.

Similarly, according to Philip, there are at least three self-imposed boundaries that believers don’t want to cross to engage in God’s mission.

First, there are cultural boundaries. People from a different culture or who hold a different worldview may intimidate some believers. For others, they may not want to spend the time learning and understanding such people. Regardless of whether it is apathy or insecurity, when believers rest in the passion, proclivity, and power of the gospel they are more inclined to engage in God’s mission of crossing cultural boundaries.

Second, there is a destination mentality. Many believers and churches still operate solely on a missional force exerted centripetally. This means that they attempt to attract people “in” by pulling (inviting) them to a place. Philip reminds us that the Great Commission includes the centrifugal force of going out and making disciples, not waiting around for more visitors. Thus, believers—in an effort to cross this self-imposed boundary—must be willing to go out and make disciples themselves rather than relying solely on the invitation method to “come and see” and hear a professional tell them what they need to hear.

Click here for the full video, and to read the remainder of how believers and churches can stop gazing and start engaging in the mission of God.

This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • Jesus’ disciples weren’t called to stand gazing—waiting on Jesus to return—they were to engage in God’s mission (Acts 1).
  • While many churches & believers may gaze at something good, they miss out on engaging in the Great Commission.
  • There are self-imposed boundaries believers create that prevent them from engaging in God’s mission. @philipnation
  • The Great Commission includes the centrifugal force of going out and making disciples, not waiting around for more visitors.
  • “Are you more like Paul or Jonah? Is your church more like the church in Jerusalem or the church in Antioch?”
  • Sharing and showing the gospel should work in tandem.@philipnation
  • Train people to engage in God’s mission by teaching them to dialogue w/others, demonstrate grace & mercy, & declare the gospel of King Jesus


[1]  John Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove, Ill.; InterVarsity Press, 1990), 51.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


view all
Business Leadership and the Church

Exclusive Content

Succeeding in Church Planting

Exclusive Content

Should I Plant a House Church?

Exclusive Content

The Church Is Not the Building

Exclusive Content

Cultivating Leadership and Outreach [Behind-The-Scenes]
Developing Leadership and Outreach in a Church

Exclusive Content