Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

Aliens With Purpose

Posted: October 28, 2015 in Ad Extra, Blog
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It would seem for many that Missions has become some sort of religious ad extra, or above and beyond the call of a Christian. If it isn’t expressly thought of in this manner, it appears to be the functional outworking for most Christians. Missions has fallen secondary to church growth, and even tertiary to security & happiness; it has become an activity reserved for the very-special-elite-Christian. For many it is an option for the Christian life and not a mandate.

Why is this? Maybe it has to do with how Missions and Missionaries are defined. Missions is often viewed as the task of taking the gospel to a foreign nation, and a Missionary is the one who goes. While this isn’t wrong, the mission of the church is so much greater. Maybe it has to do with the rebranding of missions, as all that a Christian does, effectively removing any legitimate missional functional in a Christian’s life. Maybe it has to do with the human condition, where the path of least resistance is most traveled. Maybe it has to do with the domestication of godliness, whereby godliness comes through inoffensive-middle-class-morality, rather than faithfulness to the mandate of the gospel.

Missions is wider than church planting in a foreign nation, and it is narrower than any and everything a Christian does. Missions is the work of serving others in the gospel, irrespective of location. For Christians, it shouldn’t be a question whether or not we do missions, instead it needs to be a question of when, how, and where. The question of being a missionary was answered when you came to faith in Jesus Christ–not meaning you must move to Timbuktu, but recognizing the Christian’s call in the gospel.

Don’t get me wrong, there is something phenomenal and very special about someone leaving their native land to bring the gospel to a foreign land. There is great beauty in living a life as a sojourner in the eyes of the world. But we must remember, once we come to faith in Jesus Christ, this earth is no longer our home. We are but sojourners in a foreign land. We are missionaries on the mission field no matter where we live.

ToyStoryAliensAs sojourners—aliens remaining with purpose—the question isn’t, ‘who is and who isn’t a missionary, a pastor, and then merely a normal Christians?’ Rather, we’ve all been placed into the mission of Christ as Christians. Not everyone is an overseas-missionary, or even a vocational minister, but everyone is called to bring the gospel, to be missional in their lives, as part of the work of Christ, seeking to fulfill the work of Christ here on earth.

Has God called you to a foreign land? If not, then where are you called to minister as a sojourner? In what way has the Spirit of God blessed you to serve in the gospel? Where are you doing the work of the ministry?

Churchin’ up Missions

Posted: October 27, 2015 in Blog, Pastor's Corner
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When considering missions and missionary endeavors, I have an initial bit of advice—Don’t church it up! You know what I mean. Don’t cover it up with churchy high-gloss-holy-speak-varnish. Don’t give it a business hair cut, slap a suit & tie on it, adding the protective pastoral shellac they handout at seminaries. Placing missions in a safe, neat, and sanitized category is a major fail. If anyone has watched Joe Dirt, or been around church very long, you know what I mean. Don’t church up missions.

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When thinking about missions, missionaries, missional living, and any other adverbial/adjectival descriptors, we need to think biblically; thereby effectively removing much of what churchianity has placed upon the missions enterprise. It is also important to think about it realistically. Keeping from unduly romanticizing, simplifying, or institutionalizing this hefty endeavor.

Missions, missional living, and the missionary’s call are what the bride of Jesus Christ has always been about, and will be until He returns in glory. This work is messy. It is hard. But it is glorious, even in dying. The missionary endeavor can be described in Matthew 28:18-20. This passage is often called the Great Commission (GC hereafter), which has a simple yet multifaceted depth of action.

Missions, through an overly simplistic reading of the GC, has been boiled down to simplistic gospel proclaiming. This oversimplification makes the mission of the church merely evangelism. Or better yet, enter the room, turn on the light, and exit with a sense of accomplishment. As missions professor David Sills puts it, “The task of the Great Commission cannot be compared to running through a large darkened building, flipping on a few switches and announcing that they now have light… We have unintentionally created the erroneous perception that missions equals reaching the unreached. If one’s efforts consist of flipping on light switches and then hurrying to the next darkened room, that is not the Great Commission; it’s only half of what we have been commanded to do…”

Conversely, an effort to correct the afore mentioned error has led to defining missions according to a social-gospel of Christian-ey activity—e.g., handing out water at the park, filling parking meters for strangers, randomly paying grocery bills, or raking lawns in your neighborhood. All in the name of Jesus while his name is never uttered and no gospel is ever proclaimed. Through services like this, people feel justified in their deeds, as well as missional in their lives.

While this might seem harsh, this critique is not a call to eliminate the labors of love. A knee-jerk reaction against a particular error often creates another error. Just take a look a church history and one will find that reactions like this aren’t uncommon, and mostly detrimental for the church. Christians need to realize that missions is greater than humanitarian aid, and greater than mere gospel proclamation. We desperately need to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but we are also to be his mouth as well.

Reaching the unreached only through evangelism or philanthropic efforts fails to adequately fulfill missions. Evangelism is the sharing of the gospel, benevolence ministry is caring for the physical needs of our fellow man, while missions is the endeavor of planting the gospel among the people of a particular nation. “The task of missions is not simply to reach the unreached, allowing every missionary to define what that means for himself: it is the reaching the lost and teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded.” —David Sills

Missions

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Blog, Pastor's Corner
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A missionary endeavors to bring the Gospel to the lost. A siworldmapmple enough sentence; one potentially found in the curriculum of a 5th grader. A sentence most people like to read, because of it’s brevity and understandability. Sentences like this allow the reader to get in and get out, all while maintaining presumptuous thoughts. It allows ignorance to remain, without challenge to the reader.

 

That description of a missionary will be variously perceived. By some, the missionary is one who travels to foreign lands among the heathen. When another reads it, they might think of a special person or family who has dedicated their life to a people group, doing the work of the Gospel. Yet others will think of missionary endeavors on a short-term status. Many will totally land in left field and think of the mormon boys who come wearing suits and ties.

The perceptions of the reader can be numerous. Not that any one of these perceptions are fully wrong, but they all need corrected, modified, and clarified—especially for the church whose very purpose is missional at heart. Genuine missionaries, and legitimately-biblical-missional work must be defined.

In efforts to correct misperceptions regarding missions, to define what the mission of the church, there has been an expansion of the definition for missions to encompass all that Christians do. Missions, being a missionary, or being missional all seem to have melded into a conglomerate of churchy activity. However, if everything is missions, and everyone a missionary, then nothing is missions, and no one is a missionary. Calling someone something doesn’t make it true. Calling me beautiful and light on my feet will never make me a ballerina.

How do yo think about missions? What is the missionary endeavor? What is the missionary’s task? Who is a missionary, and who is on mission?