It is well documented that pastors and missionaries are super-Christians handpicked by God to administer His will and make other Christians feel guilty about their service to the kingdom. Right? Of course not. Yet that is how many people see us.
In my experience the casual utterance of the phrase “I am a missionary” has cosmic properties that cause the average Christian to spontaneously and uncontrollably erupt into unsolicited confessions as to why they don’t financially support missionaries or haven’t yet themselves embraced their call to missions. I have heard dozens of excuses from Christians to justify avoiding missions service. In fact, most of those excuses have been heard coming from my own mouth. Here are five of the more common excuses for avoiding missions:
1. “I am not called to missions.”
As followers of Christ we were never intended to seek our own comfort, joy, and entertainment. The purpose of our life is to seek God’s glory throughout the world. We are all missionaries and every Christian is called to share the love of Christ. Without a clear calling to another ministry, we are called to be involved in missions.
Missions is not something done by a select few individuals. Charles Spurgeon left little room for debate when he said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” Unless God makes it clear you are to stay home and support missionaries, He wants you to be a missionary.
2. “I can’t raise all the money needed for missions.”
If you think you can’t raise the money to go on the mission field you’ve already made your first mistake. God will raise the money, not you. Every dime that will be raised for your missions efforts comes from God, and if He wants you on the mission field He will make it happen. Hudson Taylor, pioneering missionary to China, said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.”
Way too many people have refused to let God show how big He is because they don’t think He can succeed. Let God surprise you! If God has ordained your ministry you will have no problem raising support for it. Why wouldn’t God use His money to support His work?
3. “Missions is too dangerous.”
Our life on this earth is only a blip in time. It should not be false safety and fabricated security we seek. If it is, we are sacrificing eternal good for temporary comfort. God is worthy of sacrifice and He is calling his people to give all they have, even to lay down their lives, so His gospel can reach the world.
The life Christ wants for us is full of risk and peril, and requires reliance on Him. C.S. Lewis said, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” When we can acknowledge that our perceived security is false and safety is an illusion, we can begin to risk everything and accomplish great things for God’s glory.
4. “Old-fashioned missions is no longer needed.”
There is still much work to do. Nearly half of the world’s 6.9 billion citizens belong to a people group that is unreached by the gospel. More than 300 million people in the world today don’t have a Bible available in their own language. Over 1,000 people will die before you finish reading this article and most of them don’t know Jesus. Matthew 24:14 tells us, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” That time has not yet come.
Some have wondered, in this age of advanced technology, why we can’t simply fund internet ministries and beam God’s Word around the world with a single button push. The reality is a majority of the people in the world still don’t have access to the internet. Those people must be evangelized the old-fashioned way: face-to-face.
5. “I am not qualified to be a missionary.”
No missionary has ever been sufficiently qualified to serve God, and every missionary I have ever met feels horribly unprepared for the task at hand. Your ability and skills are less important on the mission field than your willingness to serve others. You don’t need training, certification, or a job title to bring the gospel to the world. You only need an obedient heart inclined toward God.
Throughout Scripture God has used unqualified servants. Moses was a poor orator, Paul persecuted Christians, and David couldn’t keep his hands off his neighbors. God is glorified in our weakness. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Go therefore …
Willingness to make personal sacrifice is what being a disciple is all about. God calls us to be willing to give all we have. The Great Commission contains four directives: go, teach, baptize, and make disciples. “Go” is the first and hardest to obey.
Commit the rest of your life to expanding the gospel. Don’t be satisfied with the fleeting taste of a few weeks or months of service. Francis Chan said, “God Almighty, the Creator, said, ‘Go, make disciples.’ So I don’t want to sit and make excuses.” If indeed God is calling you to the mission field He has prepared you. Allow God to use you for His glory.
This article was originally published in InVision in 2013 as “Justifications For Avoiding Missions.”