10 reasons every pastor should care about missions
Billions of people are being born, living their entire lives, and dying without ever hearing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This reality cannot be tolerable.
1. The God of the Bible is a missionary God.
From the opening pages of Scripture to its final pages, readers encounter the missionary nature of God. The triune God of the Bible creates, sends, rescues, redeems, and will restore creation from the curse of sin. Mission issues forth from God himself. Therefore, the natural starting point for missions is the God of the Bible.
God’s overarching mission in the world is to redeem for himself a people who will be a kingdom of priests to the praise of his glory. God, in his grace, saves and sets apart a people who will bear witness to his gospel and will advance his church in the world. In the Gospel of John, Jesus states, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). Embedded in this passage and others is the missionary nature of God. God the Father sent God the Son, and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit. The triune God of the Bible is a missionary God who desires to save and redeem a people for himself. Those who have been redeemed and reconciled to God will one day dwell with him forever in the new creation.
2. The Bible is a missionary book.
The Bible alone serves as the primary source of authority in missions. God has chosen to reveal himself through the pages of Christian Scripture. If one wants to understand the nature of God’s mission and purpose in the world, the Bible is the chief resource. The Bible tells the story of God’s work to rescue, redeem, and restore the entire creation, and a people from all nations from the consequences of human sin and rebellion.
Furthermore, the Bible is the primary source of mission, because missions and theology are inextricably connected throughout the biblical story. It is in the Bible that one encounters the inspired words of God. Yet, it is through those inspired words that one is exposed to the mission of God. Thus, biblical mission is not possible apart from the Bible, and theology is lifeless apart from biblical mission. Throughout the narrative story of the Bible, theology and mission are inseparable and serve to shape and inform one another.
3. The goal of missions is the glory of God among all people.
In an increasingly human-centered world, one might be tempted to believe that the goal of global mission is a measurable number of new converts, disciples, or churches in a particular geographic region. Undoubtedly, one prays and works to see new believers, disciples, and churches in places where Christ is not known (Rom 15:20). However, because global missions is an inherently God-centered and theological activity, the goal is not human results or outcomes. The ultimate goal of global mission is God’s glory. The Bible indicates that God desires for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of his glory as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14). As stated above, God is a missionary God, but he is also a God-centered God who is zealous to extend his glory to the ends of the earth.
4. The motive of missions is the love of God for all people.
John’s Gospel tells us, “For God so loved the world …” (John 3:16). God acted in human history out of his love for his creation. God’s mission of redemption and reconciliation is motivated by his love for his creation. Furthermore, the motive for global mission cannot be based on any particular person’s love for the people of the world. As much as one might love the people of the world, at some point that love and affection will waver and wane. But the love of God that courses through those who have been redeemed by God will never run out. God’s unrelenting love for people created in his image is the driving motive for missions activity in the world.
5. The vision of missions is local churches among all people.
In the Bible, the vision of missions is local churches among all people and in every place. Throughout the New Testament, Paul and the apostles are concerned with planting and establishing local churches. The focus of the Bible is not on orphanages, clean water, or the elimination of global hunger. While those are all worthy endeavors and merit commendation and attention of Christians, the focus throughout the New Testament is on strengthening and establishing local churches in places where Christ is not known or worshipped.
The local church is the primary instrument blessed by God to redeem a lost world to himself. Therefore, the vision of global missions is to see local indigenous churches that are biblical, Christ-honoring, and healthy for the glory of God. Local churches have been ordained by God, commissioned by Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to function as salt and light in the world.
Thus, the vision of missions is local churches among all people.
6. The mission of missions is disciples of God among every people.
Jesus’ final commission to his followers from a mountainside in Galilee contained one imperative command: Go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19). Thus, the mission of missions is making disciples of God among every people group. All of God’s people are commanded to make disciples. There are no exceptions to that command and commission.
Furthermore, all of God’s people have a role and part to play in the Great Commission. Christianity is not for spectators. All of God’s people have been saved and empowered to make disciples. So, what is the work that Christians are to engage in on a daily basis? They are to give time, energy, and attention to making disciples of God among every people. Disciples are to teach, demonstrate, and model to new disciples what it means to obey and embody the commands of Christ. This is the pattern and strategy of global mission expressed throughout the New Testament, and the objective remains the same for Christians and churches 2,000 years later.
7. Salvation is only available through Jesus Christ.
God had to send his Son into the world to die in the place of sinners and demonstrate his power over sin and death in the resurrection. Salvation comes only through the shed blood and atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Christ commands his followers to fulfill the Great Commission because there are billions of people who only possess enough knowledge of God to damn them to hell. Therefore, the duty and responsibility of the church is to take the good news to every nation, every village, and every people group.
The exclusivity of Christ is increasingly under attack inside and outside the church today. Therefore, Christians need to think carefully about the doctrine of salvation. One’s understanding of salvation greatly influences the way one thinks about and practices mission in the world. There is a lost and dying world that desperately needs the gospel, and the only hope for fallen humanity is salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
8. The Holy Spirit empowers the mission.
Luke, recounting the words of Christ, writes in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The Holy Spirit empowers believers to proclaim the Word of God and to pray effectively. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, is the agent of regeneration and salvation, and illumines the Scriptures enabling followers of Jesus to understand the Bible.
Mission is impossible without the indwelling and emboldening work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised his followers that he would send a helper to indwell and empower his people to carry out his purposes to the ends of the earth. It is the Holy Spirit that empowers believers for mission in the world.
9. Southern Baptists are a missionary people.
Since 1845, Southern Baptists have cooperated for one primary goal: to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to lost people around the world. The motivation to share the gospel and plant churches around the world was the impetus for the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For almost 175 years, Southern Baptists have been fervently praying, generously giving, and courageously going as witnesses to the ends of the earth. Through the efforts of the International Mission Board (IMB), the North American Mission Board (NAMB), and other partner organizations, Southern Baptists have actively engaged in mission work around the world for nearly two centuries. By God’s grace, during that span of time, Southern Baptists have remained committed to the gospel, to the truthfulness and the authority of the Bible, and to the urgency of global missions. Southern Baptists have sacrificed their finances — and some have sacrificed their lives — in an effort to bring the gospel among people and places where it is not known. This rich legacy and heritage of global missions continues through missions-minded churches, seminaries, and sending organizations across the Southern Baptist Convention.
10. There is much work to be done.
There are more than 7 billion people in the world. Missiologists estimate that close to 3 billion of those people have little to no access to the gospel. Practically, this means that billions of people are being born, living their entire lives, and dying without ever hearing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This reality cannot be tolerable to pastors and the people of God in the church.
The local church is the means that God is going to use for the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth. In a world filled with billions of lost people, many of whom have never heard the gospel, it is unacceptable for global missions to be relegated to a compartmentalized program in the church for a select few people.
The realities of lostness, the urgency of the gospel, and the glory of God demand a renewed emphasis and focus on global missions today. There is much work still to be done. The need is great, and the task is overwhelming. Yet, the story of the gospel’s spread continues today. God is calling his entire church to be involved in strategic ways to make his glory known among the nations. One day, King Jesus will return and those who are united with him in salvation will dwell and reign with him forever. Until then, we faithfully obey the commission of Christ to share good news and make disciples of all nations in prayerful and joyful anticipation of that day.