Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why You Should Consider Being Missional

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20
 
A pic of me and my dad from around 2006 on a mission trip
I have been on quite a few missions trips in my life. Unfortunately, I have never been overseas (unless you count Mexico!) but have had the pleasure of working with many people in different places and with different people.
 
The one thing that I have noticed is how we approach missions. It is almost disturbing. While many churches consider evangelism to be a good thing but many mission trips prove otherwise.
 
They tend to be little more than tourism for teenagers in which we spend most of our time complaining about how hot the place we are is (been there) and just wanting to spend time on the "fun part" of the trip like going to a water park (done that). We tend to not spend time doing anything that we were actually commanded to do by Jesus. Rather we find simple things that all people can do, like construction (I assure you, not all people can do construction). At the end of it we take our pictures we took with the "less fortunate" and post them all over Facebook so that we can feel better about ourselves since we went and helped people.

This comes off as selfish and non sacrificial. While some people hate manual labor, it is usually preferred over sharing the gospel, by far.
 
Also, I realize there are felt needs of people. And I do find it cruel to find someone who is starving or needy and neglect their needs, using having shared the Gospel as justification for not doing anything. Jesus said if we neglect those in need that we neglected Him personally (Matthew 25:34-46). In the picture the trip we were on was used to rebuild the home of a woman whose home had been damaged by a hurricane. I don't feel it was a waste. In fact, I believe we were doing what Jesus commanded.
 
But we can get so wrapped up in material needs of people that we forget about the souls of those who are lost around us everyday.
 
"Missional" tends to be a loaded word for many, because they feel it points to a group of people rather than a lifestyle. I prefer to think of it as a way we are supposed to live everyday, as opposed to a spot on the theological spectrum or a state of mind we get in when on an actual trip. It is easy to be missional when you are in a whole new country or a place that feels like a different country (New York).
 
However, it is tough to live like this at home.
 
I struggle with this severely. I find it that I am less aware of those around me, even in physical needs, and get supremely bogged down in my own problems. Yes, I should take care of my home, but I was also commanded by Jesus to make disciples. He didn't say where to make disciples, he just said to make them.
 
My wife and I are currently in the process of pursuing an opportunity to do missional work in our home state of New Mexico in the next year. I won't lie, it scares me. I know how easy it is to get in a rut in familiar place. While it is not in our home city it is still close enough to home to feel quite comfortable. I could go to somewhere like Zimbabwe and feel like it is much easier to have an automatic feeling to be on mission.
 
The problem is people are just as lost in New Mexico as they are in Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, or Hungary. It may feel more apparent in other places, but that feeling can cloud you to the true need for the gospel around you.
 
Just because we see people who look comfortable and happy doesn't mean they are. I have seen many people put on a show purely because showing this weakness would make them look less adjusted to others. Jesus compares this being whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27). We may look great, but on the inside a person is literally rotting. The inside is dead while the outside looks pure.

There are people who are whitewashed tombs everywhere. No amount of new homes, clothes, healthcare, or free childcare (it's funny how many youth mission trips tend to have this function) will save someone. They will be temporarily happy, but they are still spiritually dead. And frankly, they will die one day. No one lives forever. After they are gone all the clothes and food will be meaningless. It will be them with God accounting for their sins.

Why should we focus on purely material things?

Most people only live around 80 years. Eternity is so much longer than that!

We should invest our time into the things that have the greatest lasting impact. Thankfully, Jesus outlined these things. We are to make disciples (not merely converts) and teach these disciples all we were commanded by Jesus.

How can you do this?

Yes, go on that overseas mission trip with the plan of intentionally sharing the gospel. Go join a church plant in your hometown that is intent on reaching the lost in the community. Invite people to your home that don't know the gospel and show them hospitality while presenting yourself an opportunity to share the gospel. And of course, do as Jesus told us and take care of the felt needs of people.

Find opportunities in every day of your life, not just the occasional mission trip, to share the gospel. We aren't given a minimum quota by Jesus for how many disciples to make, but I can assume we should do it as much as possible. Who cares if you just shared with your coworker today? If Mormon missionaries approach you take it as an opportunity to show them the true Gospel. If a neighbor asks a question about your faith, why turn down the opportunity?

Whether you live in Johannesburg, Portland, Prague, or Tokyo, as a believer you should live missionally and make it a practice to share the gospel daily.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. My husband used to work as a fleet mechanic for a youth missions organization that functions much like the "youth tourism" you wrote about. Meeting felt needs can be an incredible tool, however, we bring no ultimate good if we feed the body, but leave the soul to die an eternal death. So many churches send their youth away to other states and countries when the neighbors next door have never heard the Gospel. It has long been preached that everyone in America knows about God. They may know about God or a god, but that is so completely different from hearing and know the real Gospel. Romans 10:14-17 {How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.}

    Thanks again, it's encouraging to know you're not alone.
    Heidi
    www.apaigefromourbook.com

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I feel that we can get so used to thinking everyone in America is saved, but aren't. In fact, in the most populated places in New Mexico it is around 95% unreached. And our neighbor state Utah is around 98% unreached. There are places in the Middle East with a better rate than that! But yes it is very encouraging knowing others are out there preaching the gospel.

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I am Colton. I have been married over a year (nothing to sneeze at) to the most awesome lady ever. I just finished my undergrad in Religion at ENMU and just started my MDiv at my current place of employment, Wayland Baptist University
 
. Quick facts: I love steak, blogging, apologetics, theology, sports (especially football and rugby), indie rock, my truck, and the Lord. I don't like soccer, skinny jeans, and Top 40 music. If you aren't the same I think we'll still getting along just fine haha. If you have questions don't be afraid to ask!