Have you ever wondered if the modern church has the right view of missions? Can we lay our reality down along side of Scripture and see that we match up or have we invented our own version of what missions is, what missions does and how missions operate.
Our concept of missions is a strange thing. It often conjures up visions of grass huts, tribal natives, strange food and mission boards. Churches form committees to decide how to divvy up their annual missions’ budgets and send their money to a mission board who oversees the missionary on the field. They talk about a trip or two they might take during the year and say a prayer or two for some of the missionaries they support.
Is that really what missions is all about? Are we cut from the same missionary mold that Paul was?
You may be surprised to know that the word “missionary” is not even in the Bible – but the word “witnesses” is. When Jesus was ascending into heaven He spoke His final words on earth,
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus charged His disciples with the Great Commission. Go…make disciples. It’s not a call to a select few, but God’s call to all. Believers are to be about the business of making disciples. After all, if the God of the universe stooped down from heaven, clothed Himself in flesh to bear a brutal death for me and for you, doesn’t it stand to reason that, as witnesses of what He has done for us, we would want to tell others of so great a salvation?
You see, we tack on missions to the church as a ministry we do on the side…with very little personal involvement. We leave the work up to those who were called to a foreign field and they tend to be out of sight and out of mind. But if you look at how Paul was called by God and commissioned by the church, you find that you don’t find a mission board with grand requirements and an extensive educational background.
In fact, I remember after the Lord called us to the mission field we went to our first missions’ conference. We were so excited! We stayed at the house of a “famous” missionary. He had been on the field for decades and had successfully started many ministries and reached a plethora of people for Christ.
We arrived at his home where he directed us to our room and told us to meet him in the living room after we were through getting our things situated. We just knew we were in for a sweet time of fellowship and were anxious to hear stories that would have us on the edge of our seats and glean wisdom from his every word. But the first thing that came out of his mouth was a very austere… “So, what qualifications do you have?”
We were taken back. He began to tell us of his vast educational background and the many places he had been. Both of us stared at each other and then my husband began to wisely answer his questions with a question… “What did you learn in school that you were able to use on the field?”
His answer – “Nothing! There’s really nothing that can prepare you and teach you how to deal with the things that come up on the mission field.”
I’m not minimizing the value of education, but if we’re going to look at missions from a biblical standpoint then the only prerequisite we find is an obedient heart.
You see, God called us to go to another country to take the Gospel and help the national pastors. He calls us all to make disciples…to be His witnesses to the nations as well as our neighbors. Missions is merely our obedience to be witnesses in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and utter most parts of the earth while the church commissions and supports us in our journey of making disciples.
Those who the church sends out should be a constant object of prayer and the primary point of contact. When a missionary on the field has a need, the local church should ban together, pray, seek God’s face and help meet that need. It may mean other local churches get involved, like the example Paul gave us when he collected money for famine relief, but it was a focus of the church to be involved in “missions.”
I know this isn’t popular, but is it wise to keep doing what we’ve always done just because we’ve always done it? Do we continue our status quo concept of missions or do we lay our methods down against the Word of God and look for ways we can become more like the mold we were cut from?
Maybe it’s time to look at missions with new eyes. Perhaps it’s time to rethink our role in missions.
Below I have listed some wonderful, thought-provoking and heart-convicting quotes about missions. These people got it! They understood that if we’ve been born again by the Living God, we have a world to reach! They weren’t worried about comfort and convenience. They weren’t concerned about being mocked or rejected. They just wanted to tell people about the Savior who died to save them.
Please read through each one and contemplate how missions fits into your life and the life of your church. Do you pray for those who are witnesses to the world in a foreign land? Do you seek out ways to fulfill the great commission?
“I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could gain souls for Christ. While I was asleep, I dreamed of these things, and when I awoke, the first thing I thought of was this great work.” – David Brainerd
“It is the whole business of the whole church to preach the whole gospel to the whole world.” – Charles H. Spurgeon
“The mission of the church is missions.” – Oswald J. Smith
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” – Charles Spurgeon
“A tiny group of believers who have the gospel keep mumbling it over and over to themselves. Meanwhile, millions who have never heard it once fall into the flames of eternal Hell without ever hearing the salvation story.” – K.P. Yohannan
“Today Christians spend more money on dog food then missions.” – Leonard Ravenhill
What do you think about how the modern day church does missions? Do you have any thoughts on how missions can be done right or do you think we’re already doing a good job?