What is the goal of mission work on the field?

The ultimate goal of missions is to catalyze disciplemaking movements cross-culturally that form reproducing local churches. In the Great Commission (Matt. 28.18-20), Jesus commanded that His followers make disciples. As we watch those who received this command directly from Jesus, primarily in the book of Acts, we see that the Church initially was reluctant to move out of Jerusalem. God used persecution in Acts 8 to scatter the Church to the nations. Once dispersed, we see first missionaries such as Paul concentrating efforts on staying briefly (two years or less) in major urban areas to begin making disciples, appointing elders, and forming churches. Paul’s New Testament letters largely focus on shepherding and mentoring the churches he planted. The local church clearly led the process of training, appointing and sending out missionaries (cf. Acts 13.1-3).

Increasingly in the Western Church, social justice, humanitarian work, and relief and development are becoming the end goals of much missions work, while often minoring in gospel proclamation. While such ministries are commendable and necessary, they Biblically complement the ultimate tasks of disciplemaking and church planting rather than replace them.

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5.1.18

One thought on “What is the goal of mission work on the field?

  1. When the modern missionary candidate thinks of missions around the world, he/she is drawn to consider genuine, desperate human needs. We think of many solutions to those needs that seem so accessible for us to offer to the needy world, including:

    Well-drilling,?Water supply projects,?Medical clinics,?Prevention of human trafficking, Sports evangelism,?Mass evangelism meetings, Community development, AIDS-related programs,?Bible translation,?Agricultural development, Internet evangelism,?Cottage industry development, Teaching English,?Computer/IT training,?Electrical supply projects, Reforestation projects,?Dental clinics,?Sports training clinics,?Orphan care,?Aquaculture,?Building or construction,?Youth ministry and camps, Poverty alleviation,?Primary health care,?Expatriate services, Special skills development (e.g.: Carpentry, Cabinet-making,?Plumbing,?Welding,?Auto mechanics, Peddle-taxi, motorbike taxi, Embroidery, Garment making, Jewelry making, Weaving,?Carpet making, Pottery, Wood carving, Sculpturing, Art), “Business As Mission,” Business skills development, NGO service,?Micro-loan projects,?VBS or Bible clubs,?Music ministry,?Disaster relief & development, Adoption services

    Yet the greatest human need is for the Gospel. “I was obsessed with the issues of justice and human trafficking until I came?to reckon with the ultimate injustice: folks who’ve never had?a chance to hear the gospel,” said a candidate at one mission agency’s recent candidate orientation.

    We should rightly be appalled by the deplorable circumstances and injustices that evidence a fallen world. We are appropriately gripped by catastrophic human needs, sometimes with life and death hanging in the balance. But it’s easy to believe that those presenting symptoms must take precedence. In some cases, they must. The spiritually lost may need to be rescued from death in order to even have a chance to hear to Gospel. Still, we can confuse “means” with “ends”; we mix up “strategies” with “results.” Our desire for holistic transformation of life?and society can eclipse a clear biblical ambition for proclamation of the Gospel.

    Missions strategies that do not intentionally start, sustain and multiply indigenous local churches fall short of the biblical ideal. Projects that began as an entrée into or point of contact in the community in order to share the gospel very easily became?ends in themselves. Sometimes a concerned outside observer can help a missionary avoid this trap. Again, your relationship with an involved sending church can help at this point. Disciple making is the core of the Great Commission. Great Commission- driven disciple making will naturally result in local churches. The baptizing, teaching and obeying of “all I commanded you” takes place in the context of a mutually committed and worshiping body of believers. That is clearly what the first-century believers understood and did; they were the original recipients of the Great Commission. Planting churches is how they obeyed it.

    Discipling whole nations (people groups) must include gathering new disciples into self-supporting, self-governing, self-propagating bodies of believers. This is critical for a number of reasons. Indigenous churches corporately portray Christ to a watching world in credible, culturally appropriate ways–something impossible for cultural outsiders to do. They demonstrate lives committed to the “one another” commands of Scripture. Local churches stay when foreign missionaries cannot. Local churches persist when persecution mounts. Local churches express the Gospel and transformational biblical truth in ways no other non-church ministry can.

    The many ministries listed at this appendix’s opening are good and legitimate means to the end of establishing indigenous local churches. These strategies should ultimately build bridges, establish relationships, open opportunities, and facilitate the goal of planting churches. Indigenous local churches are the God-ordained instruments for each people group reaching and discipling its own people group.

    Jesus said, “I will build My church.” Matt. 16:18?Paul wrote, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

    Eph. 5:25

    Paul also writes, “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known … This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” Eph. 3:10-11

    And, “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph. 3:21


    NOTE:  This comment appears as an appendix in the book “HERE to THERE: Getting From CROSS to Your Mission Field”.  It can be ordered through the CROSS.Propempo.com website or Amazon.com.

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