It is no question at all. Mission work is the fundamental task of the church and we must do whatever it takes to get the message to the nations! We must pray for missionaries. We must give for the cause of missions. We must go for the kingdom advancement!
Why? Because there are at the numbers of 6000 plus unreached people in certain countries, most of them are very hard place to get into places.
“Well Jonathan, everywhere you go is a mission field. Aren’t we all missionaries?” I’ve recently had an interesting conversation about this. That troubled me a bit.
We see over and over again throughout the New Testaments even Paul speaks in Ephesians saying, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” (Eph. 4:11) which we know not all are called to each task, but God has given the task to the church’s responsibility.
The reality is that…. No, not everyone is a missionary!
Here are three distinctions why Not Everyone Is a Missionary.
1. Reached People vs. Unreached People Distinction
Some people say, “Well, there are unreached people in my office and unreached in my neighborhood!” No, there not. “Well, how do you know?” Because they are in your office. By the grace of God they have access to the gospel, YOU!
“Wait, so unreached people, aren’t they as lost people?” No, it is not the same. They have no access to it, that’s what it means to be unreached. They don’t have a Christian or know of a church around them. Unreached people in missiological term means, people group who have 2% or less evangelical believers. That is considered as a critical mass after which the group can begin to penetrated and group within it’s own context. If nothing changes, they will be born and live and they will die, without ever hearing, which means they have Romans 1 and God is clear, but rebelled against God and woe is upon them as they are lost and unreached.
This is not tolerable! We are obligated to go to them, the knowledge of god for them only damns themselves to hell. We don’t have an option. We have to get the gospel to the unreached. We must, with that obligation, strive, live, die, get, give to get those who never heard it. Lay our lives, we lay our churches down for whatever God calls us to do so.
These unreached people are unreached for a reason. It is difficult to reach, it will cost us a lot, all the easy ones are taken. Is there anything greater to give your life to than this? Declaring this gospel of glory amongst the nations?
We know that we have the resource to see more missionaries going to the unreached people. This is the very reason why you and I exist with the local church to send out these missionaries.
2. Geographical-movement vs. People-group-movement Distinction
The cross of Christ in effort to incarnate the gospel, to preach and to plant is missions. This has zero-geographical movement, but we get this, missions movement is people group movement, not a geography movement. It may be geography, but it may not be. Usually it isn’t the other way around.
“Well, I’m a pastor in St. Louis and I shared the gospel with lost people, I’m not from St. Louis, therefore I am a missionary!”
No, you are not. I may be an evangelist, pastor, preacher, but not a missionary. We shouldn’t ever say everyone is a missionary. Neither all pastors are not missionaries. It is arbitrary as in the Bible as we try to find the term missionary. So all definition is arbitrary and we must all be able to define terms all together. Sometimes, we throw terms in the midst of conversation and we lose the ability to communicate clearly to one another.
Missionary is defined by he/she crosses a culture, learns a language, and puts the gospel and the church in a people group that IT ISN’T.
So if a person from Japan goes to America and shares the gospel, is he a missionary? No, that person isn’t a missionary as there are already churches there (America) in that country. A person moves from Chicago to St. Louis, MO shares the gospel 5 hours away, amongst white caucasian middle class people as well is not crossing those barriers. There may be a cultural context that one may have to overcome, but not the extreme of learning the language of the local context,
3. Evangelism vs. Mission Distinction
We see a huge collision in Evangelism vs. Missions distinction all together. This is crucial for our churches to understand in order to advance the kingdom ministry through mission work.
The distention of evangelism & mission is sharing the gospel; however, mission in particular is crossing a boundary into another people group usually involved of learning another language. For further info visit Evangelism vs. Missions? (Southern Baptists contemplate unleashing the IMB at home.) by Christianity Today.
How should we define Evangelism? Evangelism is teaching (heralding, proclaiming, preaching) the gospel (the message from God that leads us to salvation) with the aim (hope, desire, goal) to persuade (convince, convert) all. For further info please visit Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus (Crossway, 2013).
The follow-up question I often get is then, “Must Every Christian Evangelize?” the answer is a resounding, “YES!!” It is a simple obligation not for evangelist or for missionaries alone! It is by definition being a follower of Christ.
The commands to witness are given to all followers of Christ (Acts 1:8). What had Jesus commanded the church? Among many things, he commanded them to preach the gospel to the whole creation. Jesus’ promise them, “I am with you always, to the end of the age,”
Christ Simple Command
We can say to our people with confidence, “you are called to be a witness for Christ in both word and deed.” Not because they are missionaries or an evangelist, but as it is a biblical mandate for all to witness and to make disciples!
As leaders, let us challenge other believers not only with our exhortations but also with our example. And let us take great confidence in the gospel, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).
Therefore……. Jesus reminds us, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We have been given no greater gift than the gospel, and we have no greater stewardship than to share that message of good news with others.
So all our lives belongs to our heavenly Father. Therefore, let’s pray however, give whatever and go wherever with great confidence. No more excuses.