“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” – John 20:21
Is “missions” something a local Gospel-centered church does, or is it something that the church is? In other words, is missions an activity or an identity?
Jesus defined the church’s mission as being sent into the world with the Gospel. Just as the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus is sending us. Therefore, it is safe to say that missions cannot be a subset of our local church’s priorities. If we are a Gospel-centered church, we must be more than missions-minded; we must be missions-focused, living out our true identity and calling in Christ.
Real Blessings Accompany a Strong Church Missions Focus
As with every form of obedience to Christ, real benefits come from having a distinct missions focus in local churches. I recently interviewed Brian and Mindy Mullins. They oversee ANM’s church relations department to get their take on the blessings accompanying a strong missions focus.
A Greater Vision of God’s Glory
Brian shared that the most obvious benefit is that church members are presented with a larger vision of God’s glory. A more global appreciation of His kingdom’s advancement also followed. This challenges the entire church body to realize how big God is and how He is saving people and transforming families, villages, and cultures worldwide. While leading church teams on short-term mission trips, Brian and Mindy have seen many lives redeemed from debilitating addictions, witchcraft, and sickness through the work of ANM native missionaries.
From Giving to Going
Mindy pointed out that when local church leadership gains a fresh appreciation for missions in general and native missions in particular, the church begins to move beyond merely the financial support of missionaries (as imperative as that is) to active participation in their lives and ministries.
Local churches encounter the mission and heart of God more profoundly through visits by native missionaries and facilitated short-term trips to the field. Mindy calls these experiences “faith builders” — opportunities providing a potential piece of a church’s discipleship program.
Renewed Passion for Ministry
Church members and leaders participating in an ANM-led mission trip often return with a renewed passion for service and ministry. Participants have witnessed native missionaries accomplishing so much with so little and realize they can do more where they live. Mission trips or visits by native missionaries can be the catalyst God uses for an explosion in local ministry efforts.
A Personal Note on Church Missions
I made my first mission trip to Nepal in 1994. I was a member of my church’s pastoral and elder leadership team. Because of my involvement in video production at the time, I created a short media presentation to accompany our team’s report to the church. We repeated this pattern of traveling and reporting over the next several years as our financial and partnership commitment grew stronger in Nepal. With each subsequent mission trip and presentation to the congregation, our church began to view this increasing mission focus more as a corporate vision, not simply the work of a few enthusiasts. This vision became deeply embedded in the life of the church. Today, our church’s mission focus continues to include strong support for both native missionaries and church members who are called to intercultural ministry.