There has been a lot of discussion, possibly arguments, about the definition of a missionary. Are we all called to be missionaries or should that term be reserved only for the ones who dedicate their lives to missions? What is the role and purpose of a missionary? If we look at Paul’s example his primary purpose appeared to be planting churches. We don’t really know a whole lot about Paul’s early companion, Barnabas, as far as his role during his missionary journeys. I think we can safely assume he was involved in church planting though. If we go a bit further back in Acts to the persecution in Jerusalem we see the believers scattered in what could be called the first “sending out” of believers. Acts 8:4 says, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Evangelism seemed to be their primary purpose after they escaped from Saul and the persecution. John the Baptist could easily be considered a missionary and his primary role was to pave the way for Jesus’ coming.
All throughout the Bible God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit send people out many times and their purposes vary in many ways. That is the message that the church needs to hear. We get too caught up, sometimes, in defining things that we miss the point of it all together. When I look back and think of all of the missionaries that I know of it seems like almost all of them, if not all, were there to plant a church, preach the Gospel and minister to the people in that community. In order to do that, you had to be well qualified as a pastor and have “The Call” to missions. If we only allow those people to be missionaries that leaves like 90% at least of the rest of us on the bench and God clearly doesn’t want any of us sitting on the bench just watching the game.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” So here we see five specific roles or gifts that Jesus gives to people in the church in order to one thing: prepare the church for works of service in order to build up the church. The part of this that I’d like to focus on is the “works of service” part of the plan.
I believe there are two very important aspects to the works of service that the church is supposed to be equipping us for. The first is that certain people are gifted these abilities to equip the rest of the body and we as the church should be focusing more of our attention on ways to equip those that are in the congregation for works of service. What are “works of service”? I believe that the Jews at that time would have understood that to mean service to the Kingdom of God. And now the church, being built up, can become that beacon of light that shines on the whole earth the Glory of God; and in order to accomplish that the church must be sending people out into the earth.
How are the people in your church being equipped for works of service?
In what ways is your church focused on sending people out to share the gospel?
Here2There loves to see churches focused and sending people out strategically. If you would like more information on accomplishing that with your church don’t hesitate to reach out to us on the network or at [email protected].