A couple years ago, I took a job at a local church as an associate pastor. One of my responsibilities that I probably get the most fulfillment out of is directing our global missions department. I absolutely LOVE global missions. I’ve seen breakthrough both in the lives of those serving on mission as well as in the lives of the people we’re serving. Both are equally as important, and both are vital to the overall mission of making the name of Jesus known.
As I’ve served in this role, I’ve heard on a handful of occasions people say things like, “Why do we promote global missions so much, and pay little attention to local missions.” Or, “I wish we would give more time and energy to local missions instead of wasting all of this time and energy going overseas.”
Hearing sentences like these truly breaks my heart. For a couple reasons really. In light of my global missions promotional season currently in full swing, I thought I would take a few minutes to highlight some thoughts behind global missions, local missions, and my personal heart as a minister of the gospel. I’m sure someone out there will be offended in some way, but luckily for me, we all answer individually to God (Romans 14:12), and I firmly believe in the heart and vision He has given me, so comment away 😉
We are all called to be ministers of the gospel
I talked about this in a sermon I recently gave. It’s the very responsibility that we’re all trusted with if we call ourselves children of God. It’s foolish, selfish, and inattentive to Scripture itself if we keep the knowledge of salvation to ourselves (Matt 28:19-20). We are called as children of God to let other people know about that very hope in eternal comfort that we so confidently hold dear. That leads me to my next point…
Local Missions is a Lifestyle, Not an Event
So often, church goers feel as though in order to have a successful outreach, we need to make it this big event where we promote it to the entire church, get everyone and their mothers on board with serving, and then post pictures all over instagram showing how awesome our church is. The reality is that if we’re truly living as followers of Christ, outreach would be a natural element of our lifestyle. We see this play out with Jesus when he went down to the well and led the unfaithful woman to salvation. That one act led many others to asking questions and placing their faith in Christ.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I firmly believe in the power of organized outreach. I love mobilizing our church in a broad way here in the community, but it’s only a small element of authentic outreach. Local missions goes well beyond the organized outreach just as the church goes well beyond the walls it meets in. Local missions is a lifestyle, and it’s the lifestyle that we agree to when we choose to profess our faith in Jesus.
Local Missions is Taught Virtually Every Sunday
The primary basis for our teaching in the local church is the Bible (if it’s not, then you may want to find a new church), and the Bible in its nature and authority is instructional in how to live a lifestyle of local missions. It’s our mission is to lead others into a personal relationship with Jesus. Whether we’re teaching on marriage, money management, or simply just walking verse by verse through the Bible the whole idea is that we as Christ followers would apply the teachings and become more devoted to Jesus and more equipped to teach and instruct others in the way of Christ. If we were to apply every bit of teaching that we receive on Sunday mornings (or whatever night your church meets) then we would be the best local ministers of the gospel that this world has ever seen.
Global Missions is Biblical, and it’s sort of an event by Nature
Why do we promote global missions from stage? First of all, just like an event, it needs to be promoted so that we can form teams and get our church on board. While local missions can easily be done by just grabbing a few people and serving those around you, global missions takes a little more of an organizational effort. Between coordinating with the missionaries overseas, raising a team, building funds, training the team, prepping the travel details, etc. there are many administrative efforts that go into global missions. Perhaps a reason it seems like we talk about this more is because of the nature of what goes into planning and prepping our mission trips.
Whatever the case, the Bible instructs us to send missionaries. We see this charge in Acts 1:8 and Matt 28:19. We see the church in Antioch sending Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey, we see Silas being sent out by his church to join them on this journey, we also see multiple other references throughout Scripture where missionaries are being “sent.” One thing to note is that not every church member is sent, meaning not all will go on global missions, but we do see that everyone in the church participates in global missions (Acts 13:3). Typically, we describe this as either praying, giving, or going.
So there you have it. We will continue to promote global missions at our church because we believe that the Lord has called us as a church to participate in global missions. We will continue to coach and direct people to grow in discipleship and serve their local community. My prayer is that we as the body of Christ would be attentive to Scripture, open to the necessity of global missions, and willing to go above and beyond to make the name of Jesus known here in our local community as well as overseas. Matthew 24:14 says, “ And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” So let’s do our part to advance the gospel to every corner of the earth and quicken the coming of our Lord!