Missionaries Only Do Social Work
There are two main points to this incorrect belief, and I will answer both, but lets start with what social work actually is.
Social work is taking action against poverty and those who are unable to care for themselves or gain access to counseling, schooling, doctors, etc. An orphanage or a speech pathologist who helps children with speech problems are both good examples of social work.
The first problem is that too many people are found believing that the only way, or the main way, to do missions is through the social work route.
The Truth: There Are So Many Ways to do Missions Work
When I was younger I wanted to be in full-time ministry, but I wrestled with underlying guilt because I was always drawn to business and doing ministry in an unconventional way.
When I finally came to Bethany Global University at age twenty-three, my eyes were opened to the reality of Gods heart for Christians and the world. God stripped me of all of my preconceived ideas of how ministry should be done and what it looks like and combined my desire for business and ministry into one.
Now I am pursuing a degree in business as missions.
So if you feel called to missions, but dont necessarily feel called to working in an orphanage, here are just a few ideas to think into.
- Business: providing jobs and training.
- Education: teaching English, math, etc.
- Farming/Agriculture: teaching locals how to farm or even employing farmers
The Truth: The Gospel Must Be Preached
Different Day Same Conversation
From my earliest days in ministry, Ive had a conversation about discipleship that repeats itself again and again.
It goes like something like this:
Me: People need to reach out more and focus more of their time, energy, and resources on evangelism.
Other person: Thats a great idea but what we really need to focus on is discipleship. Theres such an immaturity in Christians today that we need to focus on growing the ones we have first. And besides, evangelical churches are known for producing shallow, immature Christians.
Pretty compelling logic.
Unless, of course, its wrong.
God Has Called Us To Be His Disciples
To be chosen by God as a disciple is an amazing gift! The following Bible verses about discipleship show that God has indeed chosen those of us who are Christians and set us apart to become more like Christ and to impact the lives of people around the world.;
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruitfruit that will lastand so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Gods special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? James 2:5
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and willto the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:46
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A Missionary Summed Up
Now, take the example of the Israela nation completely surrounded by foreign pagan countries, yet they were called to be a light to them. This same calling is given to every Christian in every context, the difference in the missionary, however, is that they leave behind their home country and go into the pagan nations and live as a light in the darkness.
The call to be a missionary can be seen as an assignment from God and every Christian has been given assignments, missions is simply one of them. Dont confuse evangelism with being a missionary. Every single Christian is called to evangelism, but the difference in missionaries and evangelism/ists is that missionaries are sent out. The Latin from which we get missionary, literally means, one who is sent.
This again goes back to the commission of the Holy Spirit; Paul and Barnabas did not set out on their first journey of their own volition but by the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
So here are the key elements that define a missionary:
So now that we have the basics, I am going to jump into what the Bible does not say about missionaries so that we can understand the missionarys role through and through.
We Must Move To Where People Are
Jesus is no longer on earth in person. Therefore, we, the Body of Christ, are his feet to go, hands to do, and mouth to speak. And where should we go? Anywhere and everywhere! According to Marks account, Jesus simply says, Go into all the world;
We must go wherever people are that need to be discipled. According to;research, one in four people in America would consider themselves to be atheist, agnostic, or nothing.;
On top of that, just because someone considers themselves religious, Christian, or even Protestant does not mean that they actually have a relationship with Jesus. And even if they are saved, it does not mean that they are growing in their faith. ;
So, for us to move to where people are could mean anything. In fact, the verb go in the Great Commission literally;means to pursue the journey on which one has entered.;
For us, we can go a couple of ways: We pack everything up and go to a foreign country, or it could also mean that we just recognize the opportunities we already have in the places where we already go by striking up a conversation with someone at work or at the gym, meeting a friend for lunch, talking to someone at a social event, finding ways to serve a neighbor, or talking with someone in our own home.;
We cannot stick to ourselves or stay in our comfort zones we must find people that need to be discipled and get involved in their lives. Christianity and disciple-making require action and movement, not passivity and immobility.;
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What Is A Disciple According To The Bible
In Christianity, disciple primarily refers to a dedicated follower of Jesus. This term is found in the New Testament only in the Gospels and Acts. In the ancient world, a disciple is a follower or adherent of a teacher. A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master.
All Are Called To Be Missionaries
This is where people can mix up evangelists and missionaries. I touched on this earlier, so Ill make this one brief.
We are all called to be evangelists in that we share the Gospel at every opportunity, but the key difference is location. Missionaries pick up and move overseas pretty much permanently.
The Truth: All Are Called to Be Evangelists
Now, you might not feel the Holy Spirit leading you to become a full-time missionary, but I do believe that everyone should partake in missions work, as the Great Commission tells us to make disciples of all nations, this means that all are included in that commission, we just have different roles to play.
What does this actually look like?
There are multiple ways to get involved in missions, and there are so many missions organizations that you can jump into if youre interested in going or helping send. You can go on short trips, give money to support, pray, and ask the Lord if you are supposed to go.
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What Did Jesus Mean To ‘go And Make Disciples
Therefore, we, the Body of Christ, are his feet to go, hands to do, and mouth to speak. And where should we go? Anywhere and everywhere! In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus simply says, Go into all the world
- Robert HampshireChristianity.com Contributing Writer
- 202027 Oct
The main way that Jesus began the biggest movement in human history was by calling, developing, and sending out a handful of unqualified, untrained, and unlikely disciples.
It was common, in the first century, for a Jewish rabbi to have and lead;disciples, who were pupils or students that were so devoted to their leader that they accepted their teaching and adhered to their lifestyle. They not only learned information, but they walked with their teacher in order to become like them.;
More than that, true disciples assisted their leaders in spreading their mission. One major sign of maturity in a disciple is a willingness to help others follow.;
That is why Jesus stood on a hillside in Galilee, at the end of his ministry, and gave his disciples;his final command to;Go therefore and make disciples of all nations;.;
This commission is so Great because of its timeless importance to Christianity and the fact that all the gospel writers included similar versions of it .;
What did Jesus mean when he said to Go and make disciples? Jesus was instructing his faithful followers to leave where they were, go find others, and invite them to follow him, too. But the deeper question is on how Jesus wanted them to do it.;
Maturity Takes Time And Is Not Linear
It would be great if there was instant maturity in faith and in life. But it never works that way.
You cant expect a 3 year old to have the maturity of a 13 year old, or expect a 23 year old to have the maturity of a 43 year old. When you place expectations on people that they are just not able to bear, you crush or confuse them.
And yet we do that in the church all the time. People grow and mature over time. And our progress isnt always as linear as a 101, 201, 301 progression would make it. In fact, I know some 23 year olds who are more mature than some 43 year olds.
Expose new Christians to the love of God and community, to great teaching, great relationships, and solid accountability and over time, many will grow into very different people than they were when they first came to Christ. They may grow at different rates and in different measures, but I believe Jesus talked about that. Just dont judge them after a few months or even a few years.
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We Must Use What We Have
Sometimes when we talk about evangelism and making disciples we focus on the big tasks like mission trips, church services, or apologetic debates.;
But none of these are discipleship . Instead, it is simply using who we are and what we can do to make a difference in others lives.
Tony Dungy, a former professional football player and coach, wrote that we can be great witnesses to others by trying to serve the Lord in whatever we do, treating others with the same grace that God has given us, demonstrating our love through actions, respecting others views, setting the example of Christ, and using our words to share the truth. ;
A Mark Of An Authentic Disciple Includes Getting It Wrong
A common criticism of churches that draw in large numbers of outsiders and newer believers is that these new followers of Christ get it wrong as often as they get it right. They might not realize that reincarnation isnt biblical or struggle to understand the faith theyre stepping into.
What if thats a sign that their discipleship is authentic?
After all, Peter didnt get it right most of the time when he was around Jesus. Many leaders in the early church needed correction. And even Paul would later confront Peter about his unwillingness to eat with Gentiles. ;And yet Christ chose to build the early church on Peter and Paul. Imagine that.
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Missionaries Can Only Live On Support
I have heard a lot of Christians say that the only way to live overseas is through a support team and constant fundraising, but just as there are many ways to do missions work, there are also several ways you can live overseas without constantly fundraising.
The Truth: There Are Many Ways to do Missions without Fundraising
Two things to remember before I go on, raising support is not a negative thing, it is actually Biblical, and fear of raising support should not lead you to alternate routes of getting the necessary funds.
All throughout the New Testament, you can find patterns of giving to support the mission of Paul and other missionaries. But along with that, you can find the tent-making method.
The tent-maker method simply comes from Acts 18, when Paul was doing mission work.
And;because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
Paul supported himself by working a trade so that he wouldnt be a burden to the church who would have been supporting him financiallythis is made clear in 1 Thessalonians 2:9.
One of my family members was a missionary in a closed country and he was able to support himself as well as his family as a translator for a business.
This is just one option you can choose, if youre interested in more ways to support your mission, check out this blog: Types of Missionary Funding and What Works Best
How The Church Today Is Getting Discipleship Wrong
One of the ways you know youre making progress is that you stop having the same discussion over and over again.
If youre discussing the same issues on your team or at home year after year, youre probably stuck.
When it comes to much of the discussion around discipleship, I believe were getting it wrong in the church.
What if the popular understanding of discipleship is producing some of the ill-health and even stagnation and decline we see all around us in the church?
And what if you could do something about it by rethinking what you mean by discipleship?
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What Is Discipleship
Before we can understand discipleship, its important to define what is meant by the term disciple. A Christian disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ, someone who is devoted to becoming like Jesus by studying his teachings and mirroring every aspect of his life. Jesus himself explained it this way:
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40
So what does discipleship mean? Christian discipleship is the lifelong transformational process of becoming someone who reflects Jesus Christ to others. The ultimate goal of discipleship is to help others become disciples by sharing the gospelor, in other words, by fulfilling The Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit .;
With this discipleship definition in mind, lets look at Bible verses about discipleship and see what lessons they can teach us.
What Is A Disciple
Pastor, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When Jesus speaks we listen.
That makes sense, right? Jesus is the one to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given . Jesus is the one of whom it will be said, forever, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! . Hes the one to whom every knee will bow the one on account of whom all the tribes of the earth will wail , and from whom the fury of Gods wrath will be executed .
Jesus has that kind of supremacy so what he says matters.
And beyond that, weve been united to Jesus by faith , made alive in him by grace , counted righteous in him because of his work . Jesus, in all of his supremacy, is also our shepherd so we know his voice .
Therefore, by virtue of his power and grace, because he is the Sovereign and our Savior, when he tells his church to make disciples of all nations, we really want to do that.
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Common Misconceptions Of A Missionary
If a friend asked you what you think of when you think of missions what would you say?
In response to this question, the vast majority of people instantly think of three things: Africa, orphanages, and church planting. Weve all been there at least once, maybe when a missionary has spoken at our church, or someone mentioned they were going on a mission trip over the Summer, the first image that sweeps through our mind is one of playing with adorable little African children, or maybe painting the walls of an orphanage.
This picture or idea is not wrong, but it is too small and does not fully encompass all the missionary is called to. So here in this portion, Ill address a few wrong beliefs people hold.
Biblical Basis For Discipleship
Matthew 28:18-2018 Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Jesus CommandAfter Jesus resurrection, all authority was entrusted to me came to fruition. He is not waiting passively in heaven for His glorious arrival as king but already He is exercising His lordship. The literal translation is a command: You disciple. The word disciple translates as to become a learner or pupil.1 Grammatically, Matthew uses the aorist active imperative tense. This simply means an action that is absolutely required and occurring without end. It is surrounded by three participles . The first participle going/traveling is one of attendant circumstance. It is used to communicate an action that is equally as important as the finite verb Disciple. In this respect, the verb is not dependent, and is best translated Go and Make. Therefore in Matthews mind, Go is understood as not only a nonnegotiable but an assumed action that is always linked to the command Disciple. 2
Jesus knew that He would have to equip the saints to be able to lead the multitudes. This is what we need in our churches. It is safe to say that discipleship was foundational to Jesus ministry.
- 2 Timothy 2:2
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