“Beyond Mission & Missions; Missionaries & Pith Helmets”


Years ago I joined the movement to drop the “s” from Missions. We emphatically flapped out flag: “There is One Mission: The Lord Jesus Christ—died, buried, resurrected and coming again.” Many joined the movement, and still even today many know of no such movement. Then came the missional movement. This is where the church is on a mission of being the church not doing church. Oh, and then theirs the screaming debate of short-term vs. long-term mission projects and missionaries. (Indeed, support for many long-term missionaries has dramatically fallen over the years as “retirement” age arrives for many a traditional long-term missionary….)

I understand the zeal and passion of these debates, but need we allow these differences (these Either/Or worldview responses to a Both/And reality) distract us from ‘making disciples of all ethnic groups’—Both near And far; Both reached And unreached…?

Perhaps you would agree that the Apostle Paul foresaw this debate when he asks a series of challenging questions in his treatise to the Romans: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” —Romans 10:14–15 (NIV84)

Some may discount this by saying we have already reached the world, or technology has given us an array of means to reach far more with less, but I say, let us not discount the human touch. …

Perhaps you you find these Bible nuggets as as fascinating as I have: (1) in spite of an angel being sent to Cornelius, a human agent (Peter) was still sent (cf. Acts 10:23ff); (2) in spite of the Ethiopian Eunuch reading the best “Bible Tract”—Isaiah 53, a human agent (Philip) was still sent (Acts 8:26ff); (3) and in spite of the Lord Jesus Himself appearing to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, a human agent was still sent (Acts 9:10ff)! In all three of these instances, a human agent was still ‘necessary’ to bring the good news, or God forbid we should reduce this to a bumper sticker, but to “seal the deal”!

So, how can they hear if on one is sent? If there are no “sent ones” long-term or short-term, how will “they” know?

Brothers and sisters, let us not be distracted by these debates. Some are “called”— sent short-term (look at the minor prophets as an example), and, yes, some are “called” — sent long-term (look at the major prophets as an example). Both short-term and long-term. And it appears that no technology or method or program can supersede the human touch the Lord seems to ‘require’ nonetheless…, though I myself see this as a blessing of being a co-laborer with Him. How about you? Your thoughts on this?

Main Text: — Acts 13:1-3 (ESV)— 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”— Acts 13:2 (NIV84)

Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.— 2 Timothy 4:11–12 (NIV84)

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.— Galatians 1:15–17 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, I quiet my soul to hear your promptings. Do not let me dismiss them out of any fears or feelings of inadequacies. For when You prompt, You empower. Lord Jesus Christ, burn in my soul a passion for You, Your Word, Your People, and the World You so Love! In Your Name. Amen

Pastor Mike