Who are we as the body of Christ? In Hebrews 10:5, when Christ entered our world, He took on a physical body prepared for Him. In His physical body, Romans 5:8 demonstrated the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly—especially through His sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. After His bodily ascension, Christ continues His work in the world through those He has redeemed—the Church now demonstrates the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly. In this way, the Church functions as the Body of Christ.
Where it comes to the global church in scripture, there is no other book in the Bible that best describes the description of the church then the book of Acts. In John Phillips’ Commentary of Acts, he stated that “The book of Acts is the inspired history book of the Church and should be treated as such.” Phillips further explains that it is “a story of almost constant expansion.” Fellow Commentator John MacArthur in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Acts 1-12 went as far as dubbing the book of Acts as “the first volume in church history.” Ever since the book of Acts was lived out and written down, the church as we know it has grown globally. The founding fathers of the Acts church heard and understood that call. How we understand that same mission that has been handed down to us, directly influences the global growth that we see today. So now that we know the church, what is our mission?
Merriam-Webster’s Learners Dictionary describes a mission as “an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel.” Although the definition may seem simple, one should never limit themselves or strive for such mediocrity. Missions can be looked at from three basic levels. From a personal level, from the point of the church and finally from scripture. Acts 1:8 should be considered the gateway to the church mission movement. It is the who, what, when, where and why of the church. That when we receive power, we shall be witnesses, for the Lord Jesus to the world. So, what does that look like today?
In Understanding Church Growth, Author Donald McGavran proves that “there is tremendous church growth going on in the world today.” He has also reported as many as 20,000 new Christians a day in China alone in the 1980’s. With these kinds of numbers coming in on a global scale, we must ask ourselves what part the Western Church is playing in this global growth? What is the church’s involvement in the Global missions drive of the 21st century? The first stop scripturally for most would be Matthew 28:18-20 the great commission with the reminder that we are to go to all nations. The next would be back to Acts 1:8 were they would use the flawed theory of sequentialism that we should now take steps to go from our own Jerusalem and step by step go to the outer peoples. With that flawed logic and the decline of Christian beliefs in the Western church, we would never leave our Jerusalem.
In Acts 1:8 we are called to be witnesses with the emphasis on being. Where you are and what you are doing at that time, you are all called to be witnesses. Most Christians will never move overseas and become full-time missionaries, nor were they ever meant to, but how many have been given the call and not followed through with it, we may never know. We all do have a part to play, and the bible is very clear about enlisting every Christian and every local church in the grand plan of global missions. The local church is called to be the engine of church planting and gospel delivery. In his book Missions: How the local church goes global, Author Andy Johnson reminds us that “Churches don’t need a complicated missions program. They need the Bible and the wisdom to know how to apply it.” It is important to understand that the local church is called to action and that we are all called to be witnesses. The church is to cultivate a culture of service among its believers. To encourage some to serve abroad if they feel God’s calling, and the others to serve locally, like as stated in Collisions 3:23 “whatever you do, do it for the Lord.” It does not have to be something complicated, but it must be something. So where does the church stand today when it comes to global missions and people that need to hear the gospel?
According to JoshuaProjet.com, a leader in the tracking Unreached People Groups (UPG), reports that 41.3% of the world’s population are considered Unreached People Groups (UPG). That is 3.14 Billion people that have little to no access to the Gospel of Christ. Of those UPG’s, there are a reported 30,900 Christian missionaries and workers that represent 3.14 Billion people.
The other 59% of the world population or of the 4.45 Billion people in the engaged/evangelized world there is 419,000 missionaries and 5.25 million Christian workers reported in those reigns. In short, 97.5% of the Missionaries and workers in the global mission’s field, are working in the 59% field.
To go even deeper we must ask the next question of what part does the American church play in sending men and women to the front lines of missions? An article in Christianity today states that out of the 419,000 million reported missionaries in the field of the world, 127,000 come from the US. That would mean out of the 350,000 churches reported in the United States, 1 in 3 will send out one missionary. So why are we on the decline when it comes to sending servants?
The fact is that we live in a sinful and broken world. People in the west want to make a difference in the world, and this is evident with the increase in short-term mission’s trips. The world’s ills are endless and often cascade one off the other. Today, the culture that a woman is born into could lead to lack of education, which leads to reduced employment opportunity, which leads to early marriage with children she cannot feed or maybe even human trafficking. The answer for most would be that we remove the women from the situation and train them for a better life, but that plan is centered on the power of the people and not God. On many fronts, the fight against social injustice has taken over the global message. The alleviation of social injustice has its place, but it should never override the gospel message which gives freedom to all.
The first part of Acts holds the key to getting back on track as the western church. We tend to gloss over the when and the how we do it. First, we must receive the power which is where we draw our strength. Secondly, we must get down to the core of the message and who we are a witness for, which is the source of our power. As witnesses, we have to let God be God, and that is the how. We are called to get back to the foundation of the gospel and away from social programs and distractions. Witnesses must get back to the basics of teaching men to fish through discipleship and not just giving a man a fish for a day. So, what can we do if we are not the sent ones?
In Serving as Senders, Author Neal Pirolo recalls a statement that helped him to understand the need for global mission’s senders. “In secular war, for everyone person on the battle-front, nine others are backing him up with what is called the ‘line of communication.” If this is true for the secular battlefield, why not the spiritual battlefield? The sender’s responsibility is also to financially and prayerfully support those that are called to the field. We must understand that some will be sent, and the rest will be the senders, but like in 1 Peter 3:15, whether we are local or global, we are ready to give an account for the hope that is in us. Here2There (Here2There.org) is here to help train spiritual soldiers and churches for the field through partnership development and missionary care.
Finally, without those that are called, and those that support, in no way can we fulfill our calling as the body of Christ as stated in Acts 1:8. How can those that are lost ever here John 3:16 if no one will tell them. How can they believe without hearing? Someone must tell them, and someone must send them. Which one are you?