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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