How would you define the word “missions”? According to Wikipedia there exists a clear definition agreed upon and written by a group evangelical scholars back in 1974. This group of scholars was led by Dr. John Stott. That definition basically says missions is centered around church planting and evangelism. The 1974 conference is known as the Lausanne Congress and was organized by one from the great state of North Carolina, Dr. Billy Graham. In the Lausanne Covenant it clearly points out that missions is not centered specifically on social actions.

The Lausanne Covenant, in statement #5 entitled Christian Social Responsibility, clearly says; ” nor is social action evangelism“. Some would have you believe that housing the homeless, feeding & clothing the poor, providing safe havens for the abused are missions. I agree, as Christians, we are under obligation to do all that we can to accomplish these humanitarian needs. As the Lausanne Covenant goes on to say; “Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God. . . nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ.” Therefore, if Christians sacrifice evangelism at the altar of social ministry, we are not performing the Great Commission. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) calls Christians to go into all of the world and make disciples. Making disciples is seen when people are evangelized and churches are planted.

Where we are Today

We are living in a society today that Christians are defining missions in every different way that you can imagine. We can purchase cold drinks, candy, and hire a clown to go with us in a neighborhood pass out these drinks, give out candy, and make people laugh. Therefore, as long as we tell people that we are from a certain church and invite them to come to a church we have done missions. I am not sure if I can call that missions as much as I can call that inviting someone to church.

I believe, in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, we have the difficulty we have because we are not in agreement on the definition of missions. I also wonder to myself, but I am not at the point to defend this position, if this is not also the reason we have the disagreement we have in the Southern Baptist Convention. Missions, as defined by the Lausanne Covenant, is evangelism and church planting. If what we do is not part of a plan to present the Gospel in order to either plant a local church or grow an existing local church, we are not doing missions.

That is what I believe the Bible teaches about missions. What do you believe?

  1. Guy Muse says:

    Now you’re talking man! For us missionaries, this is one of the most crucial issues that is needing to be addressed in the SBC today. Many of us are frustrated that everything done outside of the four church walls is considered to be “missions”. Very few churches are truly engaged in missions as we understand the Biblical imperative given in the Great Commission. Love compels and motivates us to care for the sick, downtrodden, hungry, and we should always be doing these things wherever it is we live. But “making disciples” of the nations is what we have been charged with by our Lord.

    The issue you address today is one that very much needs to be given much attention. With so many churches and individuals wanting to go overseas for a “missions experience” we need to help clarify what it is that needs to be done when you come.

    Two fellow M’s that are writing extensively on this very subject are Ken Sorrell and Tim Patterson. I myself have blogged about this indirectly in my past two posts. I am especially interested in you reading my latest post in that you have expressed interest in the past on helping us with the missionary task here in Ecuador.

  2. Tim Rogers says:

    Brother Guy,

    I want you to know that this is my heart beat also. I truly believe many churches are missing the boat when it comes to missions. They seem to incorporate ministry as synonymous with missions.

    If there is no plan to intentionally share the gospel when we help someone, then that is ministry–not missions.

    I will read you latest post and respond. Thanks for the links. Sorry it took so long for them to show up on my blog. As I was about to write another post, I noticed my moderation queue had an extra comment to moderate. When I checked your comment was there. For future reference, remember that when you use two hyper-links the comment goes into my moderation queue.


  3. What you said. But missions seems to be our word, not the bible’s. Our command is to go and make disciples, teach them, be His witnesses. We’re also admonished that it’s not much good to tell them this stuff if we don’t tend to their needs, too.

    The same thing happens in the life of the individual, sort of. We’re told that if we love someone, we’ll sacrifice for them. The whole agape thing. So we turn that around to say if we sacrifice for someone, that means we love them (so we can feel any way we want toward them).

  4. Tim Rogers says:

    Brother Bob,

    I feel that we get caught in the middle of being missional and doing missions. Being missional covers the glass of water and the sandwich, but it seems to stop at that point. Doing missions is a physical involvment on the part of one that intentionally reaches into the live of someone in order to bring that person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If our mindset is to give a glass of water and a sandwich to someone to say we are doing missions, then we have missed meaning of missions. The glass and sandwich are nothing but tools needed and used in order to present the Gospel.

    Some today are saying that we do not do missions as evangelism and church planting. I am merely saying that is not the approach of missions. The approach of missions, whether our word of the Bible’s word, is to present the Gospel and grow a church from those that have received the Gospel. Anything that does have this grafted within their plans is not missions, it is merely an approach that will appease a convicted spirit that one is not reaching the lost and dying world.