This week we’re talking about missions vs. missionaries. Click HERE to read the first post in the series. Come back tomorrow to read more.
What do missionaries wish we knew? Kevin has a few thoughts for us. I pray that his words challenge and encourage you today.
I’ve sung that song “Be a Missionary Everyday” many times over. It is bad mission theology. We are all called to be missional everyday, but we are not called to be missionaries everyday.
What’s the difference?
There should be no difference in the nature of the church’s task in the world, whether at home or abroad, we are to be missional. There is no difference in status or equality: we are all servants of the High King.
The term “missionary,” however, when used in its apostolic sense, carries with it the idea of crossing cultures to carry the name of Christ where it has not been heard and received. This may (or may not) involve geographic distinctions.
Okay, then what’s the problem?
We need to be careful not to develop a complacent attitude toward God’s work around the world. The attitude of “be a missionary everyday” can lead to rationalizing, “Why go overseas when I can be a missionary right here?” If God has called you to that “here,” then that is fine. But I suspect there are actually many more called to the “there” than show up on that field.
It is regrettable that 98% of Christendom’s resources are used in the country (people group) that is arguably most reached with the gospel. A meager 2% is used around the world in places far more responsive to the message. This will change in time with the emerging church in Latin and South America and Asia. But perhaps we should change it a bit more right now.
When back in the States, I am overwhelmed with the abundance of Christian resources we have at our disposal. It is an all-you-can-eat buffet of spiritual opportunities. Schools, camps, music, radio, printed matter, digital matter, seminars, rallies and retreats, cruises, bookstores, counseling and every other manner of Christian ministry possible. It is all a great blessing. But is it possible that we are blessing ourselves just a little too much and not blessing the nations as we should? I would wish for my brothers and sisters here in Japan to know even a tenth of that great blessing. Are we tithing to the nations in personnel and resources?
So let’s be ambitious about sending our own flesh and blood, the next generation, to work with the emerging church to finish the task. Let’s challenge them to consider the responsiveness of people and disparity of the gospel worldwide. Let’s not lull them into thinking, “Well, I can always be a missionary to the Latino next door or Asian at school.” If God is calling them differently, encourage and allow them to follow His lead. Sacrifice is how missions is kept alive in our local churches, and how the Gospel is incarnated abroad.
THANK YOU to today’s guest, Kevin Laverman. He and his wife, Kaori (pronounced KOW-dee), are lifetime missionaries in Japan. Visit their website — www.lavermansinjapan.org — to learn more about Japan, the nation’s culture and spiritual needs and the Lavermans’s ministry there.
Talk to me: How can we know if we called to go or called to stay? How can we encourage one another to follow the path God has set for us?