The Local Church and Its Role in Missions

Every church wants to be a “sending church,” but many churches have a long way to go.

In the conversation on missions, we mustn’t forget the main focus of missions: reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

Many of us can recall sermons on Matthew 28 — the Great Commission passage—but how can we put that into action? Do some need to give their lives to full-time ministry to equip believers with the truth of Christ and train them to share it with others? Do some need to work in the secular workplace and steward their financial earnings for the advancement of the kingdom of God? Do some need to go to another country to share the gospel with unreached people groups?

These questions often fill our minds as we consider the charge in Matthew 28 and think through how God is leading each of us to do our part in getting the gospel to those who have never heard. Though God has each of us serving in different capacities, we must wield what he has given us for the sake of the gospel going forward.

In recent years, being a “sending church” has become a buzz-phrase in the conversation of missions. Churches are rallying around this idea, striving for ways to be involved with missions, specifically in sending members of their local congregation to serve in our country and around the globe. So, in light of this desire many of us share, how can we make a difference in our own congregations?

Equip Theologically

Churches need to equip their members with a robust theology. Now, this isn’t to say that you must obtain a seminary degree before sharing the gospel with an unbeliever; the Holy Spirit has, is, and will equip the believer as they pursue Christ. Though formal training is of great value, and even required if going through the International Mission Board, there can be an informal training through local churches.

Think about your current Sunday School hour on Sunday morning. What is being taught? How is that teaching equipping you with the gospel, both for remembering yourself and sharing with others? Now think about the preaching from the pulpit. What is the main focus during that time? Is there adequate time allotted for the preaching, or does it only get a small slice of the service? Do other aspects of the worship service point towards the preached Word and prepare hearts to receive it?

If we desire to be a people who treasure the gospel, and a people passionate about sharing that treasure, we must think about how we are utilizing the time in our weekly gatherings. What will propel people to give their lives and allocate their resources to getting the gospel to the unreached? A high view of God. Theology gives way to missiology. The most important way our churches can create and sustain a culture of missions is to preach all the Bible and to show the glory of God in all the Bible.

Give Financially

Each of us has been entrusted with different financial means. We know from Matthew 6:24 and 1 Timothy 6:10 that we must be careful not to love and serve money, but if we have money, how can we use it?

The matter of money comes down to one word: stewardship. Whatever God has entrusted you with, He desires for you to steward in a way that is pleasing to Him—and one way to do that is to support those going to the ends of the earth with the gospel. If you are a member of an SBC Church, a portion of your offerings to the Cooperative Program go to fund the IMB. We also have the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Though these are vital for our convention to continue sending missionaries who do not have to raise support, we also must think of how we can give to those who are raising support to go.

Pray and ask how God might allow you to sacrifice what he has given you to see the gospel continue to advance and lives saved in Christ.

Go (and Send) Continually

Whether short or long-term missions, both are integral to the life of the body. If we are able, and if it is financially feasible for us and our church, we want to go and to send from among our own congregation. This practice brings Matthew 28 to bear amidst our people and brings us face-to-face with the realities of work on the field.

When you receive updates from those friends you remember hugging on Sunday mornings, you’re reminded to pray diligently for them and to check in on them. You’re encouraged to continue to sacrifice because others are seeing and hearing! When you return from a short-term trip and share your experiences, others are reminded how one conversation can have an eternal impact on a soul. You’re encouraged to continue to send long-term missionaries, so that those who come to faith in these places might also be discipled and trained with the Word.

We must be willing to be sent if that is God’s will for us, and if not, to give our lives to sending those whom God has called to go.

Many have hung on the thought that they can be missionaries right here, so there’s no need to put so much emphasis on sending. And, yes, it is extremely important for us to share the gospel right where we are—people need to hear and believe on Christ right here in Kansas City or wherever you live. However, there are peoples that are unreached, meaning they have not heard of the gospel and have no access to it, who need someone to come tell them. We must be willing to be sent if that is God’s will for us, and if not, to give our lives to sending those whom God has called to go. Matthew 28 is not a suggestion or a mere good idea, but a charge from Jesus himself. Let your life sing of the old hymn, “Take my will and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.”

Recommended reading: Let the Nations Be Glad.

Editor’s Note: This originally published at Thinking & Theology and was published on For the Church June 18, 2018. If your church is interested in giving towards missions efforts, become a Global Gospel Fund partner.