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

Original post at davidjoannes.com

 

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“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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If The Christian Church Was An Apple Picking Society, What Kind Of Apple Picker Would You Be?

Original post at davidjoannes.com

 

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Warning: Get ready for a massive shift in perspective!

This witty story helps make sense of the ridiculously lopsided allocation of Christian workers to unreached peoples in the 10/40 Window. [CLICK TO TWEET]

For more frustrating statistics on missionary work in the 10/40 Window, see Chances Are, You Don’t Care and The Great Imbalance Of Global Missions.

Orchard Parable: The Society for the Picking of Apples

Once upon a time there was an apple grower who had acres and acres of apple trees. In all, he had 10,000 acres of apple orchards.

One day he went to the nearby town. There, he hired 1,000 apple pickers. He told them:

“Go to my orchards. Harvest the ripe apples, and build storage buildings for them so that they will not spoil. I need to be gone for a while, but I will provide all you will need to complete the task. When I return, I will reward you for your work.

“I’ll set up a Society for the Picking of Apples. The Society—to which you will all belong—will be responsible for the entire operation. Naturally, in addition to those of you doing the actual harvesting, some will carry supplies, others will care for the physical needs of the group, and still others will have administrative responsibilities.”

As he set up the Society structure, some people volunteered to be pickers and others to be packers. Others put their skills to work as truck drivers, cooks, accountants, storehouse builders, apple inspectors and even administrators. Every one of his workers could, of course, have picked apples. In the end, however, only 100 of the 1,000 employees wound up as full-time pickers.

The 100 pickers started harvesting immediately. 94 of them began picking around the homestead. The remaining 6 looked out toward the horizon. They decided to head out to the far-away orchards. [CLICK TO TWEET]

Before long, the storehouses in the 800 acres immediately surrounding the homestead had been filled by the 94 pickers with beautiful, delicious apples.
The orchards on the 800 acres around the homestead had thousands of apple trees. But with almost all of the pickers concentrating on them, those trees were soon picked nearly bare. In fact, the 94 apple pickers working around the homestead began having difficulty finding trees which had not been picked.

As the apple picking slowed down around the homestead, Society members began channeling effort into building larger storehouses and developing better equipment for picking and packing. They even started some schools to train prospective apple pickers to replace those who one day would be too old to pick apples.

Sadly, those 94 pickers working around the homestead began fighting among themselves. Incredible as it may sound, some began stealing apples that had already been picked. Although there were enough trees on the 10,000 acres to keep every available worker busy, those working nearest the homestead failed to move into unharvested areas. They just kept working those 800 acres nearest the house. Some on the northern edge sent their trucks to get apples on the southern side. And those on the south side sent their trucks to gather on the east side.

Even with all that activity, the harvest on the remaining 9,200 acres was left to just 6 pickers. Those 6 were, of course, far too few to gather all the ripe fruit in those thousands of acres. So, by the hundreds of thousands, apples rotted on the trees and fell to the ground. [CLICK TO TWEET]

One of the students at the apple-picking school showed a special talent for picking apples quickly and effectively. When he heard about the thousands of acres of untouched faraway orchards, he started talking about going there.

His friends discouraged him. They said: “Your talents and abilities make you very valuable around the homestead. You’d be wasting your talents out there. Your gifts can help us harvest apples from the trees on our central 800 acres more rapidly. That will give us more time to build bigger and better storehouses. Perhaps you could even help us devise better ways to use our big storehouses since we have wound up with more space than we need for the present crop of apples.”

With so many workers and so few trees, the pickers and packers and truck drivers—and all the rest of the Society for the Picking of Apples living around the homestead—had time for more than just picking apples.

They built nice houses and raised their standard of living. Some became very conscious of clothing styles. Thus, when the 6 pickers from the far-off orchards returned to the homestead for a visit, it was apparent that they were not keeping up with the styles in vogue with the other apple pickers and packers.

To be sure, those on the homestead were always good to those 6 who worked in the far away orchards. When any of those 6 returned from the far away fields, they were given the red carpet treatment. Nonetheless, those 6 pickers were saddened that the Society of the Picking of Apples spent 96% of its budget for bigger and better apple-picking methods and equipment and personnel for the 800 acres around the homestead, while it spent only 4% of its budget on all those distant orchards.

The 6 pickers knew that an apple is an apple wherever it may be picked. They knew that the apples around the homestead were just as important as apples far away. Still, they could not erase from their minds the sight of thousands of trees which had never been touched by a picker.

They longed for more pickers to come help them. They longed for help from packers, truck drivers, supervisors, equipment-maintenance men, and ladder builders. They wondered if the professionals working back around the homestead could teach them better apple-picking methods so that, out where they worked, fewer apples would rot and fall to the ground.

The 6 pickers sometimes wondered to themselves whether or not the Society for the Picking of Apples was doing what the orchard owner had asked it to do. [CLICK TO TWEET]

While one might question whether the Society was doing all the owner wanted done, the members did keep very busy. Several members were convinced that proper apple picking requires nothing less than the very best equipment. Thus, the Society assigned several members to develop bigger and better ladders as well as nicer boxes to store apples. The Society also prided itself at having raised the qualification level for full-time apple pickers.

When the owner returns, the Society members will crowd around him. They’ll proudly show off the bigger and better ladders they’ve built and the nice apple boxes they’ve designed and made. One wonders how happy that owner will be, however, when he looks out and sees the acres and acres of untouched trees with their unpicked apples.

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Reach people who have never heard of Jesus before! Donate to Within Reach Global today.

You may also like:

What If There Were Only 7 Churches In North America?

Chances Are, You Don’t Care

Original version appeared in Let’s Quit Kidding Ourselves About Missions, by James M. Weber, missionary to Japan, Moody Press. © 1979 by The Moody Bible Institute. Edited and revised by Howard Culbertson.

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6 WAYS TO GET RICH (OR REALIZE THAT YOU ALREADY ARE)

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There is a sweet, gray-haired 70 year old woman with a pretty smile named Elena on the corner of Aurora Blvd. and General Aguinaldo Ave. I see her nearly every day. She travels ten miles from her slum home to beg for money in the high traffic Araneta Center area. I always stop for a moment to ask how she is. We have a cordial conversation. Elena asks about my newborn baby, And how is your wife? She always looks so pretty! She asks if I am having a good day, and squinches her cheeks with delight when I reply in Tagalog. Mabuti naman po. 

She has picked a good spot in the bustling city of sixteen million people. Not that everyone is overly generous, but every coin counts, and adds up. I’d say she’s doing pretty well for herself—relatively speaking, of course, pretty well as far as the beggar’s lifestyle goes, pulling in more than a hundred Pesos a day.

She makes me think about the lifestyle that I have been blessed with. She makes me consider finances and food and entertainment and all the good pleasures of this world. She makes me feel rich.

But opulence is a funny thing, a sticky conversation full of loopholes and relativity. The rich announce that they’re poor. The poor makes you think they are rich by their amiable smiles. The middle class always want more. Beggars are always reaching for another coin. Millionaires never have enough.

So how wealthy are you? Where do you fall on the global rich list? Here are five ways to get rich, or realize that you already are.

1. INFANTS SLEEPING ON THE MANILA SIDEWALK
Walk less than fifty meters northeast from Elena’s spot on Aurora Blvd. to watch infants sleeping in makeshift cardboard boxes strewn across the sidewalk. They are usually asleep next to an older sibling, a toddler or ten year old. Traffic is heavy with personal vehicles and public jeepneys, and the humidity collects billions of smoggy molecules, stuffing the black soot inside tiny, helpless nostrils. You can’t believe how dirty the poor baby’s cheeks are. Their mother’s empty eye follows me as I walk past them with a hampered cringe in each step. I’m pretty sure she’s wondering how rich I am.

2. WA VILLAGE ON THE CHINA / MYANMAR BORDER
Take a twenty-four hour overnight sleeper bus from Kunming city to The Edge, the northern point of the Golden Triangle. Home to the former headhunting Wa tribe, the landscape is dotted with lush poppy fields and grass huts. Methamphetamine production and ethnic genocide (amongst a myriad of other tragedies) have ushered in a tidal wave of poverty. Spend the night in a Wa hut, sip some of the local rice wine jet fuel, converse with a toothless old man puffing a silver pipe, and pinch the children’s cheeks as you hand them gifts of balloons and used clothing. The wide open wet skies outside will remind you that you don’t have it that bad after all.

3. LEGLESS BEGGAR IN BIRD AND FLOWER MARKET
Set out for a shopping day in Kunming city like any decent consumer. But watch your step as you stroll under the branches that hang over the Chinese souvenir and trinket venders at the Bird and Flower Market. Fate is not so fair to every human being, you will see. I have always wondered about that man’s story—the legless man with polio shriveled arms, contorted in inhuman posture, with hollow tin can laid in front of his face. When I see him, I am shocked and saddened and pissed off. His gnarled vertebrae is a hump of bone and flesh, pathetic and hopeless. On a busy day at the market, you may not even see him until it’s almost too late as you nearly trip over him and despise yourself because of it.

4. ORPHANS ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF MONROVIA
Watch from inside your vehicle as the hoard of excited children run toward you, smiling, waving, What’s your name? hugging your leg, Will you be my friend? Your car has not even come to a complete stop yet, and you are surrounded. The moment your foot steps on the Liberian soil, you are engulfed in a swarm of loveably curious little children. Some are late in their teen years. Others are toddlers. The sun beats down on you as the African temperature soars. A five year old boy named James holds your hand as he looks up at you with those big, black eyes. He has seen war. He has felt loss. His parents are gone. His eyes are more articulate than he himself, and they tell a story of hope and longing. Suddenly your first world problems seem more trivial than ever.

5. YAO VILLAGE ON THE CHINA / VIETNAM BORDER
Look to your right, south toward the Mekong River, as the swooping valley bursts with greens and yellows. Banana and pineapple plantations as far as the eye can see, and the smoke of a thousand villages rise in the dusky purple haze. The Yao tribe is one of the poorest of the poor people groups in Southeast Asia. Tonight you are sitting on an unnaturally short stool, crouching over a splintery wooden table laden with boiled cat, leafy water spinach, and raw grub worms. Your stomach churns as you scan the delectable delicacies with worry in your eyes. But you are an honored guest, and they are serving you the best that they can manage. You squeeze your chopsticks awkwardly, pinch a glob of bone and flesh, and chew slowly, savoring every unique flavor as your host scrutinizes with innocuous eyes.

6. THE MIRROR
Take a moment to pause and reflect. Linger a little longer than usual in front of the mirror. Inspect your jeans. Scrutinize your shirt. Examine your shoes. Survey your stuff behind you in the room, your electronic devices, your gadgets, appliances, furniture, light fixtures, wall paint. Perhaps a sudden epiphany will shock you with a thought like, Wow, I am not as poor as I thought. Yes, there are bills and obligations, and it always feels like you wallet is filled with more receipts than cash. But that may simply be because you only use plastic! Just a moment more. Linger there in front of the mirror a little longer. Are you poor or rich? Are you well off or just getting by or keeping up with the Jones’s? If you are reading this, the reality is, you are most likely in the the top ten percent of the world’s rich.

Confirm how rich you are on the Global Rich List.

I’m sorry if this blog was deceiving, and you haven’t walked away with newfound wealth or secret steps to becoming rich. But I hope that you realize how blessed and well off you truly are. Now, why not find a cause to give toward.

To whom much is given, much will be required. 

Perhaps it’s time to become more intentional with how you use your wealth for the benefit of both yourself and others.

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2012 IN REVIEW

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. I’m pretty happy with it. I am inspired to finish my book in 2013—once I awake from zombie mode because of the recent birth of my baby girl! Yes, there’s a lot of sleep deprivation going on around the Joannes household right now, but there are glimpses of deep inspiration as well. I hope to draw on that inspiration to create a book that satisfies your craving for unique missionary stories.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.