Over the past quarter century there has been a dilution or morphing of the word "missions". For most of the Christian community it has become a term to describe anything and everything done in the name of Christ outside the walls of the church. Every ministry project and activity is now referred to as a "missions trip."What do you think about what Ken has written? Are we too general with our understanding of the biblical basis of missions? Has "missions" become an umbrella term for everything the church does outside its four walls?
One extreme example of this shift in thinking can be seen when a church's choir tours for the summer and ends up in Disneyworld. It is publicized as their summer "mission" trip. More common examples are found in the multitude of trips taken by churches and other organizations which perform a myriad of ministries to those less fortunate or in need.
This change has taken place gradually without notice by the vast majority of Christians and missionaries. When you look at the number of churches and mission sending agencies around the world today and examine their purpose and focus, few are intentionally following the biblical mandate of Matthew 28:19 - 20. They are doing good for those in need and most with pure intentions. However, if missions is reduced to just helping people in need, most of those in need will never have the opportunity to hear, understand, respond to the gospel message of Jesus Christ, and mature in their faith.
To state this another way, we have substituted the intent of the second part of the [Great] Commandment for the focus of the Great Commission. If we do not readjust our thinking and practice, we will feed the hungry, cloth the naked, heal the sick, visit those in captivity, house the homeless, parent the orphans, educate the uneducated, and they will still spend eternity in hell when they die.
The answer of course is not to stop meeting needs but to recognize that you can successfully do ministry and never cross the line into biblical missions. However, it seems impossible to be involved in missions and not include some type of ministry in the process. If we continue to ignore the differences between these two terms, thousands, maybe millions of lost souls will be touched by Christians but never changed by Christ.
Friday, June 8
Missions: Any and everything done in the name of Christ?
My previous post was a tongue-in-cheek description of what missions can become when any and everything done by churches gets counted as "missions." As church missions programs kick into high gear with the coming of summer, fellow IMB missionary, Ken Sorrell reflects upon The Morphing of Missions & Ministry. Ken expresses well my own sentiments about the loose way we use the term "missions." I would invite you to reflect upon his thoughts below...