I just started another book called “Missions” by Gailyn Van Rheenen. Now that I’ve read a book on Bible Translation, and a missionary biography, I thought it would be a good idea to go through a general book on missions, and this was recommended by a friend. After reading the first chapter, I have come up with a number of thoughts and questions regarding Christian mission. I hope to explore these ideas in further detail at some point, but I at least wanted to get these written out while they are fresh in my brain.
Is missions optional for the Christian? First thing here is to clarify “missions”. I think most Christians these days think of missions as being a trip or going overseas full-time. I don’t think we should view it that way. I think missions should simply be the doing of God’s mission, which is “the work of God in reconciling sinful humankind to himself.” This is what God sent Jesus to do, and it is what Jesus commissioned believers to do. Did God make this optional for believers? The more I read and learn about it, the more I’m convinced that it is not, yet it seems that many, if not most American churches have little to no focus on this.
The role of the Holy Spirit: Growing up going to church, I always thought the Holy Spirit simply helped us understand the Bible when reading it. My understanding since then has changed. Reading through the book of Acts, we see the most activity of the Holy Spirit. We also see that missions, the carrying out of God’s mission by preaching the Gospel to those who didn’t know it, is one of the central themes of the book. Acts 1:8 says “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The spreading of the Gospel goes hand-in-hand with receiving power from the Holy Spirit. It seems that he is most active and pleased in the context of missions.
The concept of “Goers” and “Senders”: I have heard this many times, that if you are not a goer, you must then be a sender. While being involved in sending out missionaries is essential, has the sender role become an excuse to not be involved in any other aspect of God’s mission? Is it enough to simply give some money to a missionary or two every month to fulfill our call to be witnesses to the ends of the earth?
What is the point of the church? In this book, the author says, “few Christians are able to describe vividly in biblical terms what God desires the church to be.” The church is meant to be “the result of a mission or a sending that began with God.” Had Jesus not come, there would be no church. Since God’s mission through Jesus conceived the church, we must think of the church in that light, namely, to continue to fulfill God’s mission. It is not meant to be a “me focused” place where I can go and put on my “life is perfect and I’m so full of joy” mask week after week while I sit and listen to music and a pastor while I eat a donut and sip coffee.
Is the desire for missions reflective of one’s faith? This is a question that I really don’t know the answer to, but I wanted to throw it out there. The more I learn about God’s mission, the role of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and the role of the church, it seems without question that the most important aspect of Christianity is that Jesus is made known to save the souls of sinners. Once I become a believer, it doesn’t stop there. Had it not been for other people in my life speaking the Gospel to me, I wouldn’t believe. So this is in a sense another way of looking at the first question I posed in this article, “is missions optional for the Christian.” Can you be a Christian and do virtually nothing for God’s mission? Could it be a fairly accurate way to determine the level of faith in someone based on their understanding and zeal for making Jesus known throughout the world?
If you have any thoughts, insights, answers, or other questions to add about Christian mission, please leave a comment below.