The November December 2019 issue of MF delves into the complications around the term missions versus the term missionaries. Our lead article by Dr. David Platt is titled We Are Not All Missionaries, But We Are All On Mission! and focuses on what happens when pastors equate missions with their own local outreach or evangelism. You will read about how in order to put local ministry into its proper context we need to understand what that larger context is. All of us are to live “on mission” with God to make disciples wherever God places us. But that does not make us all missionaries. You will also find more in this issue including a 24:14 Coalition update as well as the second installment of our newest regular column by Dr. Kevin Higgins titled Toward the Edges. Enjoy!See all the articles
The most critical issue facing the mission of the Church today is the lack of clarity and understanding of what Jesus has asked us to do in Matt. 28:18-20, often referred to as the Great Commission. Answering the critical question of what is the central missionary task will determine what progress can be made.
Over years of ministry you regularly speak and declare the centrality of missions to unreached and unengaged peoples as the primary missions focus of local churches. What is the foundation of your prophetic challenge to the local church? Jesus’ words. He has clearly commanded us not just to make disciples among as many people as possible, but to make disciples of all the nations, among all the peoples (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47). This, after all, is the ultimate purpose of God in history: to save men and women from every nation, tribe, and tongue for His glory (Rev. 5 7-9ff.). Therefore, every follower of Jesus and every leader in the church should live to see every nation reached with the gospel. If we’re not focused on reaching those not yet reached, then we are either disregarding or disobeying the Great Commission.
A March 2017 Barna survey revealed disturbing evidence that validates our deep concerns about the Church’s Great Commission confusion: 51% of Christians in North America do not recognize or know of the Great Commission. More alarming, of the 49% who say they do (when given five Scriptures, one of which is the actual passage of Matt. 28) only 37% could actually identify it!
About fifteen years ago, I noticed that an increasing number of church leaders were intentionally propagating a redefinition and broadening of what missions is and who the word missionary should be applied to. 10 CONSEQUENCES OF THE NEW VIEW Though well-intentioned, the view that everything is missions and every follower of Christ is a missionary comes with significant and unintended missionimpacting consequences. Here are just a few of them:
As shocking as it may seem (at least it’s shocking to me), many, many Christians are bored. They wonderful and beautiful ways and yet, they are bored. How can this be? How can followers of Jesus who appear to be doing “all the right things” be bored?
During the Reformation, the medieval church discovered that the gospel did not need to be redefined—it needed to be rediscovered. In the same way, our idea of missions need not be redefined, it merely needs to be rediscovered. Let’s hear from three churches that went through a process to rediscover missions. We interviewed: Larry Hansen , Missions Pastor, Calvary Murrieta, Murrieta, CA Andrew LaCasse, Assistant Pastor, Calvary Murrieta, Murrieta, CA Michelle Thompson, Global Team Leader, Northview Christian Church, Danville, IN Trent Hunter, Pastor for Preaching/Teaching, Heritage Bible Church, Greer, SC
“You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.” Any respectable connoisseur of American film recognizes this quote from Inigo Montoya in the 1987 romantic comedy The Princess Bride. Throughout the movie, the Sicilian boss and hot-air artist, Vizzini, repeatedly describes the unfolding events as “inconceivable.” Eventually Montoya, the personable swordsman, points out the obvious—when you keep using a word in so loose a fashion you eventually stop making much sense!
The Church has reached a point in history where missions means anything it does in the world. Missions is multifaceted. There’s medical missions, relief missions, short-term missions (which includes a multitude of activities), missions to the elderly, orphan care missions, church planting missions, leadership development and educational missions, evangelistic missions, disaster relief missions, and construction missions just to mention a few examples. Missionaries can be teachers, church planters, farmers, seminary professors and engineers. We now live at a time when the Church does missions even if the gospel is never shared.
I am grateful for the topic of this Mission Frontiers edition. The language we use and the way we use it, is of course, absolutely crucial. Frontier Ventures has, for more than forty years, sought to help keep as clear a focus as possible on the “edges” between where the gospel is in fact taking root and growing and where it isn’t, and pressing into answers for the question, “why”? The M Words: Mission and Missionary
What if God answered our prayers in such amazing ways they seemed unbelievable? Through the ages God’s people have grappled with the mystery of (apparently) unanswered prayer. But in Acts 12 we find Spirit-filled believers grappling with the mystery of answered prayer! As Luke reports it: “Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (v. 5)
“I was trained by David Watson,” my friend said over lunch. “My mentor in Disciple Making Movements was so and so,” I replied. A bit later I added, “I also learned under Ying and Grace Kai.” George Patterson was another person whose name came to my mind. Was I name dropping? Or sharing my journey? I confess. Sometimes I don’t even know my own heart.
The Council of Nicaea in AD 325 was the first worldwide gathering of Christian leaders. They represented the churches of North Africa, Europe, and the East as far as Persia. The Emperor Constantine, robed in purple and adorned with jewels, entered and sat down on a chair of gold. Two hundred and fifty Christian leaders rose to their feet. As he looked out on the bishops he had assembled, Constantine saw empty eye sockets and mutilated limbs, grotesque reminders of the past. These men had been tortured by the empire he now represented. But after three centuries, Rome’s fury was spent. Persecution had failed to crush the movement that began with Jesus.
Last Saturday morning, I was listening to a three-year-old chapel message from Dallas Seminary as I fixed one of the sprinklers in my yard. Célestin Musekura was there from Rwanda doing his PhD and spoke during their global missions week. He leads the African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries, growing out of the Rwandan genocide in the 90s. As he shared stories about how the genocide unfolded, it was clear that it did not start in 1994. That is when the rest of the world heard about the killing of what was later estimated to range from 500,000 – 1,000,000. It started at least four years before, as extremists in the country, began to emphasize ethnic divides between Hutus (the ruling party) and Tutsis. These are not the usual folks we think of when we use the term “extremists.” But they did what extremists do when they hate another culture: they dehumanize them by stoking fears – in this case, on the radio. Day-by-day it became easier for one to kill those they considered non-human. This was even more painful when you realize that most of these are cultures that speak the same language, intermarry, live next to each other, work sideby-side and go to church together. What? Did I mistype that? You see these extremists were “Christians.”
Year of the Frontier Prayer Calendars November-December 2019