A comment I hear often from church leaders is “we are really involved in missions”. As leader of the KBC’s Missions Mobilization Team, this is an exciting and encouraging phrase to hear. It is music to my ears, at least initially. I say initially, because as the discussion progresses, I sometimes discover that while the church may be involved in some wonderful ministry activities, they are not necessarily engaged in missions.
A 2018 Barna report (Translating the Great Commission) shared that 27% of churchgoers say they have participated in missions in the past year and 62% say they have donated financially to missions. But how do they define missions?
The word missions comes from the Latin word, “missio”, which means “to send”. But as my conversations with church leaders reveals, missions doesn’t mean the same thing to all and sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with sending members to share the gospel with those who are unreached.
Since “missions” is defined in different ways, let me share with you a definition that the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Missions Mobilization Team has agreed upon. Missions is “advancement of the gospel by those who are reached among those who are unreached, often involving the crossing of cultural, geographic or language boundaries.”
We may be giving resources to meet human needs or involved in community ministry, but those things may or may not be missions. So, how does a church determine if what they’re investing in is really missions? Here are some questions to ask to determine if what we’re doing or giving to is really missions.
1. Are those doing the work or participating in the experience Christ followers?
2. Is there intentional gospel sharing in the activity or experience?
3. What boundaries are being crossed in-order to share the gospel?
4. Who are the lost that the gospel is being shared with?
Feeding the hungry is a good thing and meets a real need, but is there gospel intentionality? Helping to paint a widow’s home or building a ramp for the disabled is a selfless act of service and appreciated, but are boundaries being crossing and the gospel being shared? Yes, it’s okay to plan and implement a sports camp this summer and it is missions when we use it as a tool to reach an identified lost people group.
While the methods and resources used in missions engagement may have changed, what missions is, hasn’t. Ministry involvement doesn’t always equal missions engagement. Is your church missions engaged or simply ministry involved?