Is Missions Just for Missionaries?

All believers have the opportunity and should be “Global Christians.” I say this because we who “stay at home” are often told that our responsibility is to give and to pray.  Not to minimize these two vital functions of the church, but what if we could even do more than this? What if our giving and our praying were transformed because of our involvement in missions?  I think one of the problems that we face in missions today is a spectator mentality in churches because we have abdicated our responsibility to complete the Great Commission to mission boards and/or to individual missionaries. Given the opportunities that we possess today because of globalization—ease of travel, accelerated communication, proliferation of knowledge, blurred national borders, etc.—the average church member has ways to get involved in missions that the previous generation never dreamed possible.

But all of this must have a clear purpose. Simply visiting a mission field will not enhance the ministry on that field, nor will it edify the church at home. Youth groups sometimes organize mission trips that are burdensome to the missionary and provide little interaction with locals. At best, our youth may see how poor much of the world really is, or they may observe the joy of believers in another culture. Although being confronted with the vanity of the American dream is helpful, it does not necessarily help the missionaries or the church’s understanding of missions. But it is not my intent here to develop a plan for church-sponsored mission trips.  Rather, I am proposing that believers of this generation can easily travel to mission fields, but these trips should be carefully planned. A clear purpose for the trip should be crafted, recruits should be screened, and training should be provided. Perhaps the team should read several books on cross-cultural ministry and the team leader should engage the group in discussions on individual chapters. Perhaps the group could learn some of the language.

However, there is more to being a “global believer” than traveling to the field or being involved in a mission trip. Every disciple of Christ should see the world through the commission that Jesus gave. Our churches should be filled with people who have made it their priority to get the gospel out to every person on the planet. And a church that has this sort of emphasis will constantly be engaging in missions projects—sending teams out, sending the pastor to each field where the missionaries are, and emphasizing missions at all levels of Christian education. They will be intently involved in every missionary’s life that they support, which means they will probably support him for higher amounts. So I think that we could say that missions is not just for missionaries. It is for every believer.

In conclusion, here is my bullet point list of what I think a “Global Christian” is:

  • Surrendered to go wherever God should choose
  • Trained in evangelism and discipleship; doing both
  • Experienced another culture, first hand
  • Actively involved in missions: support, prayer, visits fields, etc.
  • Understands strategic world issues in missions