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?