Teaching the Missions Basis of the Bible - An Interview with its founder, Bob Sjogren
MF: How did Destination 2000 get started?
BOB: Don Richardson selected me, along with two other people, to help in delivering his nation-wide seminar called, "The 4000 Year Connection." Then in the late 1980s, I created my own version of the seminar, putting it into five one-hour lectures with each lecture having a theme, each theme being captured in a picture that would allow you to memorize all the material in a single glance. As a result of all that, I renamed the seminar, "Destination 2000. "
MF : How many have attended the Destination 2000 seminars so far?
BOB: It's in the thousands.
MF : How often do you have a seminar?
BOB: We do one once every two weeks, every three weeks.
MF: If someone were to ask you, "Why should I attend one of these seminars?" what would you say to them?
BOB: Well, basically, they need to understand the Bible correctly. Unless you understand the story of the Bible, then you're missing out so much on God's heart. And God's heart wants to bless the nations through us who have already been blessed. Too many of us have succumbed to a mentality of how we can be blessed without realizing that being blessed is only half of the picture. Yes, God wants to bless us, but He wants us to be a blessing as well. To illustrate what I am trying to say, let me tell you this little anecdote that I give in Lecture #2 about how selfish our Christianity tends to be:
During the time of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Greg Livingstone was asked to give a "missions minute" at a large evangelical church on the East Coast. Since he had only one minute to speak, he decided to ask them only two questions. The first one was, "How many of you are praying for the 52 Americans hostages being held in Iran?" 4000 hands went straight up and he said, "Praise the Lord! Now, put your hands down and let me ask you another question…How many of you are praying for the 42 million Iranians being held hostage to Islam?" four hands went up. He said, "What are you guys? Americans first and Christians second? I thought this was a Bible-believing church!"
Well, Destination 2000 will help all American Christians to be Christians first and Americans second…I could say, "Anybody heading to the mission field needs to see this." But this seminar is for all Bible-believing Christians, not just those thinking about going to the field.
MF: For the person who doesn't know much about Destination 2000, how would you describe it to them?
BOB: Destination 2000 helps Christians to see their Bible as one book telling a single story as opposed to 66 different books, telling many different stories.
In the first lecture, we examine this one main story (Genesis 12 to Revelation 5:9), along with its introduction (Genesis 1 to 11) and its conclusion (Revelation 5:9 and beyond). And what is that story? That story is the unfolding of God's heart for all the nations, and His unending desire to bless us so that we might be a blessing to all the nations on the face of the earth.
The second lecture deals with our tendency to focus only on how God wants to bless us, the "top line" of the Bible story, without realizing that God also wants us to be a blessing, the "bottom line" of the story. In order to make this point hit home, I cut a Bible physically in half and I hold up the top half of it, saying, "I bet you know the top line of the Bible story…" and just about everybody does. We go through some major Bible stories…Daniel in the lions' den, David and Goliath, the Ten Plagues, etc., and I say, "What's the lesson we learn?" and everybody says what the top line blessing is. Then I ask, "So what's the bottom line lessons that we learn from these stories?" and hardly anybody knows. So I hold up the bottom half of the Bible and we go over the bottom line lessons in scripture. It's at the end of this lecture that we bring them to a Lordship commitment: Do you want to be a whole covenant Christian, owning both the top and bottom line of the covenant?
The third lecture deals with blindness and this is the most powerful of all the lectures…and that is, God blinded Israel to the responsibility to evangelize the world basically because they were going to be disobedient to Him. Had He unveiled it to them, they would have been accountable to Him; and with their accountability and their disobedience, God would have judged them outright. He later revealed it to the Apostle Paul and to us, because we have the power of the Holy Spirit to be obedient.
The fourth lecture looks at many of the major events of the Bible and basically says, "Look, can I pull a few verses out of the air or is this really the central theme of the Scriptures and, if so, would it be the central theme of the major Biblical events?" And we explore how it's all tied into God's covenant to reach all peoples, whether we're talking about the 400 years of Egyptian captivity, Joshua entering the Promised Land, the Dispersion, the location of Jesus' ministry, the sending of the Twelve, the feeding of the 5000…and on and on. All these events tie in with God's covenant to reach all peoples.
The fifth lecture basically says, "Look, if we have been commissioned to reach the nations, how are we doing?" I look at other things as well, such as "Why aren't many Christians going?" and "What were some of the major problems why Christians weren't going?"
MF : That's great. Give me some examples of how hosting a seminar at one of these churches or meetings has changed the lives of individuals or a fellowship.
BOB: Well, you know, I don't have to go very far to get into that. I consistently get a flow of letters across my desk with people saying, "Thanks so much for the book" or "thanks for the video...it changed my life!"
I'm just pulling out a letter I received today. Let me read it to you. This quote is from David Williams, the Church Relations Director for TransWorld Radio and he writes this: "Although I grew up in a family where world evangelization was a definite priority in my Christian ex- perience, your seminar really touched and challenged my thinking about how world missions permeates the pages of Scripture. Thanks for letting the Lord use your talents in this way."
You know, many of the missions-candidates for Frontiers tell me, "It was your coming by our area that really sparked us to getting involved." Greg & Sharon Andrews, down in San Diego, are now going to Turkey, because I went to their church and spoke. It's that one meeting that they pinpointed: "when you spoke, that's what did it, that's what got us going."
MF: What do you think is the chief thing that is keeping the American church from grabbing hold of this and actually going overseas with the gospel.
BOB: Well, the main thing is the lack of Lordship. But aside from the lack of Lordship, of those who do know the Lord and who walk with Him, there's three main things:
Number #1: Lack of prayer. We're not praying Matthew 9:37-38 that God would take Christians out into the mission field even if it's against their will; that's what I believe the emphasis of the Greek is.
Number #2: A lack of examples. Most people are sheep; they follow. And the examples that they have in front of them are pastors, youth pastors or staff members on a college ministry. But the sharp examples of a missionary are overseas.
Number #3: The lack of knowledge concerning the true nature of the Great Commission. Because most evangelical churches focus so much on the top line of the covenant, the average Christian can only think of, at best, eight verses that deal with the Great Commission. So rather than seeing how it all ties in with the central story of the Bible, most Christians conclude that it must have only been a three- minute afterthought on the part of Jesus, right before He decided to go back and be with the Father.
As a result of this type of thinking, most Christians feel you've really got to be holy or called to get involved in missions. If not, there are a lot of other verses that deal with a lot of other topics and focus in on "biblical" Christianity. And what happens--and this is the KEY thing of all the forums that I teach: Their ministry becomes an end in and of itself rather than a means to reaching the overall goal of winning the planet.
MF : Yeah, I can really see that. Do you have any particular examples of where your seminar was able to reverse this type of thinking that results from lack of knowledge about missions?
BOB: Well, let me tell you about a church in San Diego that flew me in for just three hours to speak to the senior pastor and staff. At the end of my time, the singles pastor said, "Now I get it! I've been trying to reach the singles of my church to reach the singles of San Diego, but I've had it all wrong. I reach the singles of my church to reach the singles of San Diego so that the singles of San Diego can reach the world."
"That's it," Bob said. "Now you're ministry is a means to the overall goal of bringing God's glory to the nations." So that's the Big Question: Is your ministry an end in itself, or a means to an overall goal?
MF : That is an important point. So what are some of your dreams and plans for getting this message out through Destination 2000?
BOB: Well, the video's been well received all over the nation here as well as in New Zealand. (They have 140 Bible study courses in New Zealand.) We're also trying to get denominational versions going, because more groups will be able to see this as an "official endorsement." Finally, we want to make it available in different languages...the book is already translated into Russian, Japanese and Spanish, with German and Korean on the way. So when we find the right publishers, Destination 2000 will be able to mobilize not only churches across the nation, but across the world.
Bob Sjogren is the founder of Destination 2000 and works with Frontiers, an agency dedicated to reaching Muslims. You may contact him at Frontiers in Mesa, Arizona 602-834-1500. The complete video series of the seminar is available from William Carey Library. Call them at 818-798-0819 for more information.