Sunday, February 13, 2011

House Church - Missions

The focus upon missions, both locally and globally, is something that all churches should gladly embrace. This is true for both traditional churches and simple churches. Therefore, this is an area of church life where there both can and should be much agreement.

Every follower of Jesus Christ that I have ever met has agreed that everyone needs to hear the gospel.  We may not agree on exactly how to go about "doing missions" most effectively, but we are united in understanding that every individual on this planet absolutely needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

In local bodies of believers we can pray, give, and go (that may sound a bit trite, but I think it's an accurate descriptor of our involvement). These are areas where we can unite as churches regardless of the church model we follow. We can team together in praying, giving, and going. In fact, we should.

In the area of missions, there is one obvious difference between traditional and simple churches: giving.  Because of their overhead costs (building, staff, programs), traditional churches are generally handcuffed in how much they can give toward missions.  Even if they give a large sum toward missions each year, this amount is a relatively small percentage of their total giving.  Simple churches, on the other hand, are able to give the vast majority of their money toward missions and/or mercy.  Because they don't have much in the way of overhead expenses, this frees them up to give away the vast percentage of their money.

One final note on missions: I know of sincere Christians who have saved money, sacrificed vacation time, endured some level of discomfort, and traveled overseas on what they refer to as mission trips. When they arrived at location, what they did was construct church buildings. Although this may have been done with purest intentions, this is not missions.

What is missions? In the bible we see missions as the sharing of the gospel message in a manner that can be understood by the hearers. The book of Acts is extremely informative for us. For example, we see Paul repeatedly telling the account of Jesus Christ. He almost always mentions Christ's death and resurrection. The gospel is the focus of what his missions work.

My encouragement to all Christians is that we work together in missions regardless of denomination or church model.  There are far too many lost people (see here, here, here, and here) for us to get distracted by minor differences.  We must think hard about how we pray, how we give, and how we go.  We must also dare to ask how we spend the money God has made us stewards over.  Finally, may our definition of missions come in line with what we see in scripture.

4 comments:

Tim A said...

Many a missions trip is really a set up for the American to "see" missions, and therefor presumed to have a stronger heart for missions.

While I do not doubt that many an American heart has been "warmed" or "blessed" or "convicted" by "seeing" the field, I do doubt that the effect of this assumption is as fruitful as it is claimed. Mostly because it completely contradicts how our faith grows. We are told to "walk by faith, not by sight". We are to reject "sight" as an approach to building our faith. We see this in God's fundamental rejection that anyone should "see" Jesus and be attracted to him. Isaiah 53 tells us

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. "

A believer's faith should be free to be enlarged simply on the basis of a testimony of someone who has seen or heard. That's how anyone comes to faith in Christ after the Apostles and those who saw Him and gave testimony.

So thousands of dollars for one person and millions of dollars for the thousands who go on this basis are largely squandered.

Example: My previous institutionalized church rounded up 30 teens to go to India to "help" in an orphanage at the cost of $4,000 each or $120,000. Because saints are completely reversed on how faith grows, huge amonts of God's resources are wasted with good intentions. This orphanage could have hired 50 local saints to work there for 10 years. They got 30 American teens for 2 weeks. It is highly unlikely (although by the grace of God a tiny percentage may succeed) that one or more of these teens will even give $4000 in their life time of age earning to benefit this orphanage even though they saw it.

I know many saints have decided to be missionaries in their own mind because they saw it. This lacks God's mind on the issue with His design for growth in faith. They could have made that decision without seeing.

God offeres a greater blessing when we believe without seeing. That's what Jesus told to Thomas who would not believe until he saw.

"Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I want that blessing.

Eric said...

Tim,

I would certainly like to see a much higher percentage of American churches give directly to indigenous missionaries. I hope this happens soon.

John G said...

Have some questions about our church family reaching out. Up for helping us?

Eric said...

John,

What questions do you have?