Convictions that Drive Missions

Conviction #7—Domestic Ministries Are the Goal of Frontier Missions.

This conviction addresses the tension that develops in a mission-driven church between those who have a passion for ministering here to our own desperately needy culture and the radical advocates of taking the gospel where they don’t even have access to the Source of any ministry at all.

By domestic ministries, I mean all the ministries that we should do among the people in our own culture. For example, ministries relating to evangelism, poverty, medical care, unemployment, hunger, abortion, crisis pregnancy, runaway kids, pornography, family disintegration, child abuse, divorce, hygiene, education at all levels, drug abuse and alcoholism, environmental concerns, terrorism, prison reform, moral abuses in the media and business and politics, etc., etc.

Frontier missions, on the other hand, is the effort of the church to penetrate an unreached people group with the gospel and establish there an ongoing, indigenous, ministering church.

Now stop and think about that. What this means is that frontier missions is the exportation of the possibility and practice of domestic ministries in the name of Jesus to unreached people groups.

Why should there be tension between these two groups of people? The frontier people honor the domestic people by agreeing that their work is worth exporting. The domestic people honor the frontier people by insisting that what they export is worth doing here. A crucial training ground for frontier missions is on the home front engaging in domestic ministries.

Conviction #8—The Missionary Task Is Focused on Peoples, Not Just Individual People, and Is Therefore Finishable.

Many of us used to have the vague notion that missions was simply winning to Christ as many individuals as possible in other places. But now, we have come to see that the unique task of missions, as opposed to evangelism, is to plant the church among people groups where it doesn’t exist.

Revelation 5:9 is a picture of how Christ’s death relates to missions: “Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals for thou wast slain and didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” When the church has been planted in all the people groups of the earth and the elect have been gathered in from all the “tribes and tongues and nations,” then the Great Commission will be complete. Missions will be over.

The task of missions is planting the church among all the peoples, not necessarily winning all the people.

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John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. © Desiring God.