An Apology to Christians
As someone who has spent most of his life in full-time ministry — as a pastor, missions leader and ministry worker — I know the reality of the systems, structures, words and labels which have been built up over the years around the organized Church and organizations dedicated to God’s mission.
For centuries we’ve tried to engineer and shape a system which will provide love and care for our neighbors and discipleship for believers, all while spreading the Gospel to all the nations of the world. I believe everything has been set-up, changed, tweaked, torn-down and rebuilt with the best of intentions; but I also believe we’ve used human hands to organize and direct the mission of God. Unfortunately, with our human hands we often get so many things wrong.
The Mission of God
Fellow followers of Christ, there are a few things we’ve gotten wrong.
For centuries we have perpetuated ideas and teachings which are inconsistent with the grassroots truth of Christ.
You have within you the hope of the world. You have been lovingly made, and you are a strategic piece of the solution. You can’t sit on the sidelines. God wants you for His mission in the world.
The mission of healing requires us all. The mission to bring hope, the mission to bring peace, and the mission of love is in our hearts and needs our voice, our hands and our feet. You need only use what God has given you to take part in His mission in the world.
But as church and ministry leaders we have too often failed you. We have often focused on buildings more than community. We have often focused on keeping you in, rather than sending you out. And we have perpetuated a hierarchy that somehow made it seem that only pastors and full-time missionaries were meant for full-life service to God’s work in the world.
A Mission For All Believers
You see, God’s mission is for all believers. You can be used exactly as you have been formed and transformed. And while He is working through you, he’ll keep transforming you.
With phrases like “short-term mission” and “long-term mission” we have framed God’s mission as something which is less than full-life and full-time.
With the way we’ve used words like “calling” we have made it seem as if a calling is something each of us is still waiting for and have robbed our Creator of the truth that He has already called all of us for the same big purpose. The question is not IF you have been called, but rather HOW you have been shaped and equipped to serve.
And with phrases like “mission field,” we have pretended there are perhaps places where we live our lives for His mission, and places where we don’t.
Even our obsession with calling it “missionS,” (with an “s”) is incorrect. At best it sounds like God has more than one mission; at worst it frames the word in light of the numerous ways WE respond — as if we were the center of it all.
Christians are God’s missionary force, yet we’ve set up a system that treats the mission as something for a few, when in fact it is God’s call to all who follow Him.
We Promised Jesus
So here is the bottom line … and my closing thought.
God has one mission. His mission field is the whole world, 24 hours a day and every day of the year. Your full life is required, and that’s exactly what you and I promised when we told Jesus that we were joining His cause.
Geoff Peters serves as the global chief marketing officer of Operation Mobilization and most recently authored The Family Business: A Parable about Stepping Into the Life You Were Made For. To learn more, please visit www.theFamilyBusinessParable.com.