Every missionary by necessity comes to a place in their calling where they must decide whether or not to sell their birthright for a crappy cup of soup. By ‘birthright,’ I mean the reason why they become a missionaries in the first place. Let’s talk about that for a minute…
Did you become a missionary to ‘get people saved?’ Be honest. Do you go on short-term mission trips to ‘get people saved?’ Again, be honest.
Is ‘getting people saved’ the purpose of the mission or the missionary?
If you answered ‘yes,’ our mission is to ‘get people saved,’ then the way you relate to people, the way you translate culture, the way you point people to God, and even the very nature of gospel you preach will be crippled from the outset. You will, by nature, also transmit that crippling system to others and may very well prevent people from approaching God in the WAY that He would have them approach.
That system is easy to build. It draws its blood stained blueprints from the industrial ecclesiastical machine and replicates itself like some self aware hydro-electric station sucking ‘strength’ from rivers of flowing water without permission. It smacks of missionaries going to the ‘mission field’ simply to host short-term mission teams. Sure that system attracts people and ‘if you build it they will come,’ they will come with resources and and give you a portion of their resources to ‘sustain’ you and the work right up until you realize that the system actually kills mission and you seek to distance yourself from it. Leave their system, or try to, and they will not come.
It’s time for the Jael’s of the missionary world to take up mallets and drive tent pegs through the ‘temples’ of those systems. (Judges 4:12-24)
Now, if the purpose of mission transcends ‘getting people saved,’ then we must, with great striving, get our birthright back. The missionary must demolish every ‘mission’ argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we must take captive every contrary mission system or thinking and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Once you begin fashioning your mission in God’s way, once you start the ‘mission’ (diakonian) of reconciling people to God (2 Corinthians 5:18), and stop trying to ‘save’ people from Him, the unnaturally propped up and crippling mission of anemic salvation will begin to starve. Its initial hunger pangs will cause it to lash out at you like a demoniac being exorcised. Its legion of devoted followers will seek refuge amongst the pigs and beckon you to join them.
The mission is to make disciples of all nations. Teaching them to observe/follow/obey all that Christ commanded, and to immerse them in all that the name of the Father and Son and Spirit means. (Matthew 28:19,20) It is to disperse the Gospel of the Kingdom to all creation and live it in their midsts. (Mark 16:15) It is to lay hold of every opportunity to further reconcile ourselves and others to God.
It is certainly not ‘WHAM BAM SALVATION SLAM’ and go on to the next ‘unreached’ people group to do the same. Why are MISSIONARIES (short and long-term) not Making Disciples? Because they are holding fast to traditions of men and neglecting the commandment of God.