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The Church’s Role in Missions

INTRODUCTION: What Foolish Nonsense? – “When commerce had been established with the Fiji islanders, a merchant who was an atheist and skeptic landed on the island to do business. He was talking to the Fiji chief and noticed a Bible and some other paraphernalia of religion around the house. ‘What a shame,’ he said, ‘that you have listened to this foolish nonsense of the missionaries.’

“The chief replied, ‘Do you see the large white stone over there? That is a stone where just a few years ago we used to smash the heads of our victims to get at their brains. Do you see that large oven over there? That is the oven where just a few years ago we used to bake the bodies of our victims before we feasted upon them. Had we not listened to what you call the nonsense of those missionaries, I assure you that your head would already be smashed on that rock and your body would be baking in that oven.” –from Revolution in World Missions by K. P. Yohannan (pages 111-112).

  1. As a Teaching Center
    1. The church is headquarters for world missions
    2. Expose the members to world missions
      1. Have missionaries present their work to the church
        1. Returning missionaries that you already support
        2. New missionaries who are on deputation
        3. Missionaries on furlough who you do not support
      2. Make missions visible in the church building
        1. Put up missionary letters
        2. Put up a missionary map
        3. Use other displays
      3. Present missions to the people
        1. Teach and preach about missions
        2. Pray for your missionaries
        3. Have a missionary spotlight
        4. Have a missionary conference or missionary emphasis month
    3. Teach your people to give to missions
      1. Take up special offerings for missionaries or mission projects
      2. Have a special missions account and special giving for missions
  2. As a Training Ground (Acts 11:26)
    1. Recognize that missionaries come from local churches
    2. Pray that God would send some out from your church
    3. Prepare your youth for possible work in missions
      1. By teaching about missions
      2. By exposing to missionaries
      3. By challenging them to the needs of missions
      4. By taking them on a missionary trip
    4. Be ready to train those who have surrendered to missions in the church
  3. As a Sending Church
    1. Help support missionaries sent out from other churches
    2. Encourage and help your members who surrender to the mission field
    3. Be willing to be a sending church
      1. Commission and/or ordain the missionary
      2. Support their work with a greater amount than you give to missionaries from outside your church
      3. Do not forget them when they are on the field
  4. In a Supporting Role
    1. Help your missionaries in any way you can while they are on deputation
    2. Send letters and packets to them while they are on the field
      1. These contacts mean a lot; remember birthdays, anniversaries and American holidays
      2. Most missionaries are forgotten by their home church after they have been on the field for a few months
    3. Visit them on the field
      1. Send your pastor
      2. Encourage others to visit
    4. Keep the lines of communication open
      1. Send church tapes and printed material
      2. Write or e-mail them
      3. Call them on occasion
    5. Recognize the missionaries out of your church as an extension of your churchs work and ministry
      1. They are still members of your church and are representatives of your church on the field
      2. Initially, those they baptize are technically baptized into your church (there are exceptions to this practice).
      3. Churches planted by your missionaries are churches planted by your church
      4. This should create a very special relationship between the sending church and pastor and the missionary.  Unfortunately, this relationship is often ignored.
    6. Continue to pray for your missionaries and hold them up to the Lord
  5. In a Direct Role
    1. The world of modern transportation and communications has made it possible for churches to directly come to the aid of missionary efforts in other parts of the world.
    2. Short-term missions
      1. Evangelization trips
      2. Building trips
      3. Note: Americans often spend thousands of dollars on hobbies like car restoration and pleasure trips. The same money spent on short-term missions would bring as much pleasure and accomplish much more in eternal terms.
    3. Mission assistance activities; these can include a multitude of activities that can use many secular skills in order to give aid to the missionaries on the field.
      1. Travel agents for missionaries
      2. Insurance for missionaries
      3. Printing Bibles and other materials for missionaries
      4. Shipping services for missionaries
      5. Preparation of missionary displays, video presentations, etc.
      6. Note: there is no limit on the assistance that could make the work of a missionary more effective. Find out what makes the work of a missionary harder and match that with your skills. You may be able to help them in a special way. This is a great opportunity for retired people.
    4. Direct witnessing and training using modern communication methods (Psalm 68:11)
      1. Internet sites
      2. Satellite television
      3. Radio
      4. Note: these are ideas, but there are many other ways individuals and churches can get involved in the work of worldwide missions.

CONCLUSION: Power of the Published Word – “Just before China was taken over by the communists, one communist officer made a revealing statement to a missionary, John Meadows. ‘You missionaries have been in China for over a hundred years, but you have not won China to your cause. You lament the fact that there are uncounted millions who have never heard the name of your God. Nor do they know anything of your Christianity. But we communists have been in China less than 10 years, and there is not a Chinese who does not know… has not heard the name of Stalin… or something of communism… we have filled China with our doctrine.

“ ‘Now let me tell you why you have failed and we have succeeded,’ the officer continued. ‘You have tried to win the attention of masses by building churches, missions, mission hospitals, schools, and what not. But we communists have printed our message and spread our literature all over China. Someday we will drive you missionaries out of our country, and we will do it by the means of the printed page.’

“Today, of course, John Meadows is out of China. The communists were true to their word. They won China and drove out the missionaries. Indeed, what missionaries failed to do in a hundred years, the communists did in ten. One Christian leader said that if the church had spent as much time on preaching the Gospel as it did on hospitals, orphanages, schools and rest homes—needful though they were—the Bamboo Curtain would not exist today. The tragedy of China is being repeated today in other countries. When we allow a mission activity to focus on the physical needs of man without the correct spiritual balance, we are participating in a program that ultimately sends people to hell.” –from Revolution in World Missions by K. P. Yohannan (pages 117-118). See Psalm 68:11; Acts 5:28