Just Because You’re A Christian Does Not Mean You’re A Missionary

Original post at davidjoannes.com



“Missional” is a huge buzz word these days. But just because we are called to live on mission—which, of course, every Christianity most certainly is—does that mean we are all missionaries? [CLICK TO TWEET]

Unfortunately the term has blurred the lines between blessing those in our own context and zip code, and bringing the gospel across cultures to the yet unreached and unengaged billions.

Billions? Yes. More than 2 billion have yet to hear the name of Jesus in the 21st century.

Not everyone is called to be a cross cultural missionary, and that’s okay. Each of us has a part to play in reaching people around us, both locally and globally. Don’t downplay your call to love people to Jesus in your sphere of influence, while subliminally placing overseas missionaries on a pedestal.

Ministry outreach that blesses people in the homefront is no less important than the “ends of the earth” mission that missionaries are called to. I’d like to validate your ministry to people in your zip code by saying it is, in fact, so important that we must export these quality outreaches to regions where the Church does not exist.

Because “missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” – John Piper

We are called to live missionally, as David Platt says, “blessing people around us and spreading grace and glory among all peoples.”

Every Christian is a witness. We are all called to make disciples. That calling is not dependent upon geographic location.

But just because you’re a Christian does not mean you’re a missionary!

I do not agree with statements like “If you’re a Christ follower, you’re a missionary.”

The reason?

“If every Christian is already considered a missionary, then all can stay put where they are, and nobody needs to get up and go anywhere to preach the gospel. But if our only concern is to witness where we are, how will people in unevangelized areas ever hear the gospel? The present uneven distribution of Christians and opportunities to hear the gospel of Christ will continue on unchanged.Gordon Olson

That’s my point. The 2 billion people who have never heard of Jesus before are waiting at the other end of our obedience!

The title of missionary holds huge responsibility, and many who call themselves by that term are not ready or willing to pay the cost. [CLICK TO TWEET]

“We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” – Oswald J. Smith

So in reality the idea that every Christian is a missionary is a cop out. It avoids responsibility for the about 2 billion people who are not being effectively evangelized today. It means direct disobedience to the “Go” of the Great Commission!

Jesus had a big picture mentality. He said, “you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The gospel reach was meant to extend beyond Bethlehem’s zip code. [CLICK TO TWEET]

“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world [remote regions where the gospel does not exist], as a testimony to every nation [ethnolinguistic people groups] and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

“No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” – Oswald J. Smith

Am I simply being nit picky about terminologies? What’s the point of making the distinction between missional living and the role of the cross cultural missionary?

The reason for my thinking is simple.

The great imbalance of missions is the fact that most missionaries go to or are sent to reached areas of the earth—regions where the Church already exists and the name of Jesus is known. On the flipside, there are very few missionaries working among the remaining unreached people groups within the 10/40 Window, home to over 2 billion who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.

Not to downplay certain missionaries or ministries. It’s just that we cannot forget those who are still waiting for the gospel to get to them in the 21st century. That’s our passion at Within Reach Global.

A missionary speaker in a Bible college missions conference illustrated it by having 10 students try to lift the piano by positioning 9 at one end and 1 at the other. He made his point by saying that 9 out of 10 Christian workers are ministering to the one-tenth of the world which is most evangelized while only 1 out of 10 workers are thinly spread through the nine-tenths of the world which have never heard the gospel before. This is appalling! It is as ridiculous as 9 men at one end of the piano ignoring the 1 poor guy trying to lift the other end all by himself.

On that note, check this out: What If There Were Only 7 Churches In North America?

Herbert Kane has suggested that although it is not possible to give a flawless, scientific definition of a missionary, the following one should suffice:

“In the traditional sense the term missionary has been reserved for those who have been called by God to a full-time ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4), and who have crossed geographical and/or cultural boundaries (Acts 22:21) to preach the gospel in those areas of the world where Jesus Christ is largely, if not entirely unknown (Rom. 15:20).” – Herbert Kane

“All Christians are to be missionary-minded in obedience to the Great Commission, but not all Christians can be missionaries in the proper biblical sense of the word. We cannot all pack up and go! Some must stay behind and stand behind those who do go.

“The total resources of the Christian church should be thrown into the battle for the souls of men on a global scale, and every member of that church should regard himself as being involved in the total mobilization required by such an operation. But not every church member is a missionary.” – Gordon Olson

Our options for response are go, send or disobey. Why not partner with Within Reach Global as we reach some of the most unreached people groups in Southeast Asia?

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