Reaching Others Through Evangelism and Missions

I remember several years ago overhearing two pastors discuss evangelism vs. missions and which should be the focus of the church. One pastor thought all the focus had to be on evangelism. After all, are we not about the Great Commission and sharing the Gospel? The other pastor argued it had to be about missions. After all, didn’t Paul and others take many missionary journeys? Paul and his companions were always on mission.

I am not sure how each pastor defined these terms in their own mind, but evangelism is spreading the Gospel by preaching or personal witness. Missions involves the calling to go out and spread the Word of one’s faith. Those terms seem very similar to me, yet maybe different in context.

Organizationally we may separate them as evangelism does involve equipping and training, which is a biblical mandate (Eph. 4:12). Missions involves going out and being involved; this too is a biblical mandate (Matt. 28:19-20).

In the church I grew up in, it seemed when you said the word “evangelism,” the picture which came to mind was going door to door creating anxiety in many minds. Whereas the word “missions,” a picture which came to mind was sending a check to the Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong Easter offering, Lottie Moon Christmas offering, and state mission offering. Maybe a local mission project from time to time might be included.

In my mind, you cannot separate evangelism and missions. They go together. If we refer to the definition of the two terms, if you are evangelizing, you are on mission. If you are going on mission, what is the point unless you see the opportunity to preach or share your personal testimony? I don’t know about you, but I don’t need something else to do for the sake of doing it. But ministry the work of motivates us to be on mission and evangelize. Because of our going and doing, we have the opportunity of serving and sharing.

That is why I love the disaster relief ministry. I see how it models the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was on mission and Jesus evangelized. As you read and study His ministry, very often you see how He met the physical needs of someone, which would then open the opportunity for Him to share their greatest need, their spiritual need.

Often people will ask me when we are on a disaster response helping clean up after a storm, “How much does this cost?” I often will answer with, “It has already been paid for.” This confuses them for a moment, but that answer opens the door to share the Gospel, as Jesus paid it all.

I remember the story in the Bible when Jesus “had to go to Samaria.” (John 4:4). He had a calling to go there (missions), and an opportunity to share the Gospel (evangelism). Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the tree and went to his house. Jesus went to his house (missions) and shared the Gospel (evangelism). Because of His mission, He changed lives with the Good News.

If we are to be followers and ambassadors of the Lord, then we should do as He did. And obey as He did. We are to “go” as we are sent; “do” as we are given opportunity; “be” what He has made us; and share the reason of our hope: Jesus Christ.

Going and sharing. Sharing and going. Evangelism and missions. They go together. And as we go, we will reach the world for Christ.

Throw a Lifeline

Years ago, while speaking at a youth camp in Daytona Beach, FL, myself and several others were caught in a dangerous undertow while attempting to give assistance to a teenager struggling in the choppy Atlantic waters.  Thinking that I was swimming over to help a teenage boy in need, I found myself needing help.  Before I realized it, lifeguards filled the sandy beach, along with firetrucks and ambulances.  All the while, one lifeguard swam against the undertow to rescue myself and a few others who were in danger of drowning. 

Clinging to his buoy, he instructed us to kick as we tried to swim parallel with the beach in order to eventually swim out of the undertow.  Unfortunately, we did not make any progress.  The waves continued to pull us further away from shore.  We were struggling to hang on and stay afloat.  That’s when everything changed.  One by one, other lifeguards entered the water, stretching out their buoys until they formed a human lifeline to reach us and pull us to the safety of the beach.        

Those in the waves of gospel ministry can relate to this story all too well.  They answer the call from God to go and help those struggling in the waters of life.  Yet often they find themselves in need of help.  Missions specifically and ministry in general is not for the faint of heart.  One need only review the apostle Paul’s “resume” to realize such is the case. 

He describes his own experience, “Apart from such external things [beatings, ship wrecks and fleeing], there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-25, 28).  No wonder why God assured Paul that no harm would come to him while he was in Corinth (Acts 18:9-11). Paul faced both external opposition to the gospel and internal pressure for the care of the church. 

Bottom line: ministry is filled with both physically demanding and emotionally draining work.  Gospel work is hard work.    

It is no wonder why Paul, in his prison letter to Timothy, reminds the young pastor, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).  Ministry can be brutal both to the body and the mind.  Timothy needed to be encouraged to continue in the work that God had called him to.

Today is no different.  When it comes to the Great Commission, encouragement for missionaries and those who labor for the gospel is vital for their longevity.  Because doing the work of ministry involves external opposition and internal pressure, finding ways to throw our co-laborers a lifeline is essential for their survival.   

The church can play a vital role in lifeline ministry to missionaries and gospel workers.  While ministers of the gospel grow weary, churches that embrace a culture of encouragement among those on the frontlines provide real endurance for those struggling to run the race well. 

As I meet with pastors, church planters, and missionaries all over North American and internationally, the common theme I hear from them is that we have no idea what it means to them when they receive a card, message, package, phone call, or visit. 

Paul knew this well.   After all, after planting churches, he made rounds back to those same churches “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22).  You never know what a call, card, text, package, visit or just ongoing communication with a pastor, church planter, or missionary will do to help them “continue in the faith.”  It quite literally is a lifeline to them!

Long-Term Missionary Opportunities

People all across Kentucky are being impacted by of the ministry of Mission Service Corps missionaries. A Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionary (KY-MSC), is an adult (18 years of age or older), called by God and connected to a Kentucky Baptist Convention church. They commit to serve from nine months to two years, with the term being renewable. The positions engage in or directly support missions, church planting, collegiate ministry, or evangelism, in cooperative partnership with a Kentucky Baptist Convention church, association, or organization. Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries are self-funded.

Currently there are 111 KY-MSC Missionaries serving, and eight others that have applied. These missionaries serve in a variety of ministries, from directing ministry centers, to pregnancy care centers, prison ministries, student ministries, homeless shelters, food & clothing ministries, equestrian ministries, Celebrate Recovery, ministries to internationals, and the list goes on and on. I often say that however God has gifted you, there is a place for you to serve in Kentucky.

Do you sense that God may be calling you? Many times we think a missionary call means to serve in another country or state; somewhere far, far away. And, while that might be the case, He may be calling you to a ministry right here in Kentucky, perhaps in your own county or community. If so, we would like to talk with you.

Currently we have ten open requests for long-term, self-funded missionaries. Please pray that these positions would be filled. And consider if God might be leading you to fill one of the positions.

Click on the following links to view the open requests.

  1. Allen Baptist Church – Allen, KY
  2. Baptist Mission – Luanda, Angola
  3. Crossroads Community Baptist Church Missionary Need – Stearns, KY
  4. Emergency Christian Ministries – Williamsburg, KY
  5. Freedom Center Ministries Assistant Directors – Cumberland, KY
  6. God’s Appalachian Partnership DB Director – McDowell, KY
  7. God’s Appalachian Partnership  E2 Director – McDowell, KY
  8. New Bethel Baptist Church – Eddyville, KY
  9. Red River Baptist Association – Stanton, KY
  10. South Union Baptist Church – Hopkinsville, KY

Please pray with us for individuals and/or couples to fill these positions. For information on how to get connected email [email protected].

Spiritual Growth Leads to Mission Service

There’s no shortage of places to serve on mission with the Lord.  Opportunities abound, but only a very small number are willing to respond. We’ve heard the request for mission trip participants or the plea for volunteers to help meet a need in the community, but how did we respond?   Many churches lack people who are willing to get involved in taking the gospel across the street, much less, around the world.  The mission fields locally and globally are in desperate need of obedient Christ followers willing to say, “here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). I’m not sure what more can be done by churches or missions organizations to entice people to respond affirmatively to mission service.

I don’t think the answer to more people serving is greater promotion, financial assistance or even a powerful personal challenge. While those things may be helpful, what is needed are spiritually mature believers who will say yes to live out their faith (James 2:14-26).  We need God’s power to fall upon our churches because His presence in our lives will bring repentance, followed by a life of service. When God is at work among His people, there is never a shortage of volunteers or resources for His work!  When Christ followers are walking with Him, witnessing to neighbors and taking the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) will be a natural outcome. 

God didn’t save us to satisfyingly sit.  He saved us to serve Him through a life on mission. He expects us to minister to the least of these (Matthew 25:40) and take the gospel to the lost. But will I be obedient in going if it requires making personal sacrifices in-order to do so? Living a life on mission involves exchanging my selfish desires for whatever God wants. The author is unknown but I’ve heard it said that “spiritual maturity isn’t measured by how high you jump in praise, but by how straight you walk in obedience”.

If we are growing in our faith there will be an awareness within us of the lostness around us.  Very simply, God draws us to Him and sends us out (John 20:21).   Spiritual growth in the life of a Christian will be lived out through missions involvement. So, if I’m not living as “sent”, perhaps I’m not as spiritually mature as I should be because growing is evidenced by going. 

I pray that what God is doing in my life inwardly will be seen outwardly through mission activity that results in new believers being baptized and discipled.