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Are you called to missions?

Much of our Western evangelical church views missions as simply another church program. Numerous churches communicate missions to their congregations as one of many ministry options to select from, like meals ministry, or producing the bulletin, or putting out chairs. Oftentimes Christ’s disciples see missions as something other Christians are called to. Congregants can frequently be heard saying, “missions is not what God has called me to.” Seldom do we look at missions as a command intended for us.

The truth is, missions is not a calling. It is a command. Missions is not intended for a few, but for all Christians. John Piper says, “There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and disobedient.” There is nothing optional about disciples of Christ participating in missions. Our only task is to discern how we will participate.

Are you called?
Nothing about the grammar contained in Scripture makes missions sound optional. Throughout the Bible we are directed by God to participate in the global spread of His gospel. Look at the commands associated with missions texts: declare His glory among the nations (Ps 96:3), go and make disciples of all nations (Mat 28:19), you will be My witnesses to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8), go into the world and proclaim (Ma 16:15), say among the nations (Ps 96:10), go to the land I will show you (Acts 12:1), and go from your country (Gen 12:1). What part of those passages sounds optional? Might you be called to missions? No, you are commanded to participate in missions.

The shepherd’s sheep have been scattered throughout the world. He has called us to find them and tell them it is time to come home. David Sitton stated, “Nowhere in Scripture is a ‘mysterious (supernatural) call’ a prerequisite before we can respond to the Great Commission.” Christians worship a God who requires unwavering obedience and calls us to participate in a mission that warrants extreme commitment.

Christ started His earthly ministry by calling His disciples to be fishers of men and ended with the instruction to go, and make disciples. Evangelism and global missions were never intended only for disciples who are seminary trained or exceptional orators. All disciples of Christ are called to make disciples for Christ who make disciples for Christ.

Discerning your call
Must then all Christians sell all they own and move to a faraway land? No. Do not interpret this article as an attempt to guilt all Christian disciples onto the mission field. Missions is indeed a compulsory activity for all Christians, done out of a desire to glorify our Lord. How that is acted out in your life is between you and your Savior.

David Platt said, “As followers of Christ, we are all called to be a part of a grand, global mission.” Are you called to go, send, or pray? That is the question you must answer. Praying for missionaries, financially supporting missions, or sharing the gospel cross-culturally, that is how we obey our Father. Across the street and around the world there are lost souls bound for hell. If we know the truth of salvation and do nothing with it, what does that say of our relationship with God?

You may not be called to go, but you are certainly called to pray for or support God’s Great Commission. Every Christian is a participant. If God is not currently calling you to serve Him as a cross-cultural missionary please pray fervently for those He has called. Those who are called to pray provide the fuel on the bonfire that is lit by those who are called to go.

Not every Christian is called to leave the country. There are poor, sick, and unsaved everywhere. Service is mandatory, location varies. R.C. Sproul tells us, “We are called to be children of the light, to set forth the light of Christ to this dying world around us.” The call to missions has more to do with the condition of our heart than it does the location of our feet.

Obeying your call
Doctor, teacher, or janitor is not your calling. Those are the means God has given to provide His mercy and love to others. That's your calling. Our talent is less relevant than how we use it when called upon by the One who gave it to us.

If you are sitting around and waiting for God’s “call” to figure out how you were intended to serve the Lord, wait no longer. You have already been called, and commanded to aid in the spread of God’s eternal truth to all nations. Read your Bible and obey that which God has already commanded.

Every person who calls themselves a disciple of Christ is commanded to participate in God’s mission to call the nations to Himself. Our objective in the church is to make disciples for Jesus Christ and teach them to make disciples. This is our purpose and our privilege.

Too frequently we give Jesus our unenthusiastic affiliation and token obedience. It is our absolute devotion and complete sacrifice He merits. God is worthy of sacrifice and He is calling His people to give all they have, even lay down their lives, so His gospel can reach the world.

Exploring whether God may be calling you to serve on the mission field? Visit mtw.org/serve

Mike Pettengill has served with MTW in Honduras and Equatorial Guinea. He is now the director of MTW’s West Coast office.

Mike Pettengill, Church planting Reflection Feb 22, 2016
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