Modern churches may question the necessity of international missions outreach. After all, isn’t it enough that we reach our local community for Christ? Is it important for every local church to reach beyond its neighborhood to bring the message of Christ to the world? These are good questions for discussion.
I believe missions are the life-blood of the church. Individual Christians and local churches alike will become stagnant without outreach. As God pours into us His riches (His Word, His Spirit, and His great love) we must pour out His goodness back into the lives of others or we will not be revitalized. When missions take a back seat in a church’s priorities and functions, it is because the heart of the church has drifted from the God-given purpose for its existence.
The mission (singular) of God.
What we normally think of as “missions” in the church could be more accurately referred to as simply the mission (singular) of God. The missional heart of God is seen in the example of the Father in sending Jesus. As Philippians chapter two instructs us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” who left the glory of heaven to come to this stinky earth to rescue people! The very nature of God leads his church to giving itself to a hurting world. The very nature of God is to seek and save the lost.
Jesus told us that His mission was to be lived out through His body, the church. He said in Acts chapter 1 verse 8, “you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Therefore, true missions take place not only in our backyard, but also to foreign peoples in distant lands. It is incredibly important for the pulse of every church to have the heart of a missionary. Worldwide mission is the very heartbeat of the gospel itself, to carry the good news of Christ to our neighbor and to the ends of the earth.
A gospel-centered church cannot be anything but a missions-centered church.
Every healthy church has a dynamic of outreach that we call missions. A gospel-centered church cannot be anything but a missions-centered church. A church that focuses only on meeting the needs of its local members has become more like a club. When we turn inward, we become ill with the disease of self-absorption. In economic downturns many churches cut missions budgets, but it is important to remember to stay true to the heart of a God-on-mission when we consider our church budgets.
Jesus’ remedy to those that find themselves having turned inward.
Jesus’ remedy to those that find themselves having turned inward is to “lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). He also says, “Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matt 9:38). So let’s look and pray for missionaries in God’s fields.
Recently the world population exceeded seven billion people! Astonishingly, just less than 50% of the world’s largest people groups remain un-evangelized according to the World Christian Database. Obviously, the need is very great for churches to keep international missions at the core of their values. It’s important for church leaders, to prayerfully identify, send and support missionaries with as much conviction as anything else the church sees as relevant. In doing so, we model that single mission of God that has never wavered.