4.5 billion, 1.7 billion, 258 million, 5.6 million, 6,072 – all numbers that keep me up at night. They keep me up because each number represents people, a lot of people; people who do not have a life-transforming relationship with the Lord and in many cases have never even heard the name Jesus. People who, if they died today, would spend a Christ-less eternity, in an environment void of God’s love, filled with heartache and suffering. This mass of unredeemed humanity should compel each Christ-follower to ask the question – is what I am doing, in the name of Jesus, ministry or missions?
You see untold numbers who read this blog are regularly engaged in a myriad of activities all under the banner of “missions”. We travel around the block, across North America and to faraway places around the globe to conduct kids camps, orphan ministry, engage in disaster relief, train international pastors, build homes, conduct medical clinics, lead conferences, perform concerts, etc. and we call every last activity “missions”. Could it be that the church is spending millions of dollars and sending tens of thousands of volunteers to engage in activities that regardless of what we call them are really not missions at all?
Oh don’t get me wrong, these activities are wonderful ministries. Replacing destroyed homes, training pastors to be effective in ministry, providing medical care, ministering to people whose lives have been turned upside down by a tornado are all great ministries. They are biblical, they are 2nd Great Commandment kind of stuff, they are what Jesus commanded us to do – but they are not necessarily missions. These activities are legitimate platforms for missions and with a communication of the Gospel of Christ these activities actually become missions but void of a Gospel witness great ministries do not equal biblical missions. Missional activities, by their very definition, must include an intentional communication of the Gospel of Christ!
Reflect on these thoughts. See how they resonate in your mind and in heart and then check back in a few days and join us as we continue this critical dialogue. In Part Two, we will explore a definition for biblical missions.