There are no by-standers enlisted in the Great Commission. Everyone called by Christ is called both to Christ and to engage in the Missio Dei – the Mission of God in this world.
That is not a new concept. I suspect few who have spent even the minimalist time in an Evangelical church would be able to honestly say that they have not heard the above statement, or at least something very, very close. The question, however, that people seem to stumble over is: What is MY Part?
While there are several ways this can be answered, for the sake of simplicity in this post I will divide the roles into two categories:
- Some people are Goers
- Some people are Senders
Obviously some people will do both. But never should a Christian do neither. Some go on short-term mission trips, and in that way, at least, many are goers. But in the strictest sense of the roles, most of us short-termers cannot consider ourselves actual “Go-ers”. That should be reserved for those who commit to long-term cross cultural service.
The role of the typical church member, and of local church missions committees, is to be Senders. But while that may be easy enough to understand, what seems to stump many people, and many committees, is a clear definition of what it means to be a Sender.
Missiologist Neil Pirolo has penned a very helpful book: Serving as Senders. In this book Pirolo outlines the parameters of being a Sender. You get the idea even by simply thinking about the outline of the Chapters:
- The Need for Senders
- Moral Support
- Logistics Support
- Financial Support
- Prayer Support
- Communication Support
- Re-Entry Support
- Your Part in the BIG Picture
While the book is short, and certainly not exhaustive even on this subject, Pirolo’s thoughts are a great starting point. I plan to provide a copy for members of the missions committee at our church.
Serving as Senders is also available as a free e-book. Click the link above, or click: Senders.
3 thoughts on “Serving as Senders”
Dennis, I would say my part may not be a goer and maybe not even a sender although I would error if I didn’t say a small portion of the average Church attender’s gifts didn’t in some way find it’s place in sending those who go.
The issue is we are all to go, that is everyone! Go to our neighbors, friends, the person down the street, those in hospitals and prisions, old folks homes, those in the vet hospitals, at the stores, on the playing fields, in schools, on the job, and everywhere else. We may not all be called to go to India, but we are all called to make disciples. Matt 28: 18-10, Tim 2:2
So yes I agree by all means we are all to go everywhere and being a sender and thinking I’ve done my part doesn’t let us off the hook.
I think the old “Everyone is a Missionary” is a worn out and misguided phrase. A missionary is one who is “sent” and crosses cultural barriers to serve a people not his/her own. This requires intentional service and strategy to accomplish the mission God established for his Name to be made known among the Nations.
The traditional church has elevated the common responsibilty for evangelism by labeling everyone “missionaries”. It has a more noble ring. But if everyone is a missionary, what are missionaries – those called to be go-ers?
Now, I unhesitatingly embrace a “missional” mindset and philosophy of ministry. I do not believe this means that everyone is a missionary. Rather it means in our culture, which is clearly post-Christendom, the church is to adopt the mindset of a missionary rather than simply continue with the midset of a chaplain. In other words, instead of assuming everyone talks our language, and understands the gospel, we must realize the majority do not understand the gospel nor our religious language. Therefore we must ask the same kind of questions a missionary asks when going to a distinct foreign field, and begin to apply that to our own culture. In a truest sense, we are not being “sent” anywhere. We are carrying out our daily calling with a missionary mindset. The mindset alone does not make us missionaries.
I agree the mindset doesn’t make us “missionaries” and I also agree the phrase we are all missionaries is overdone as clearly we are not. However we are all called to be witneses as Act’s 1:8 points out. I believe the word that is used is “shall” ! You shall be witneses of me. We used to use the word shall in our Navy contracts when we desired the contractor to do somthing. It implies that the contractor will in fact do somthing or is expected to do something. I’ve always thought we are expected to share the Gospel and all aspects of God love with whoever wherever. But understand that’s not being sent in the sense of a Missionary in the context of one sent by God to a different culture. Do we not have this mandate of spreading the Gospel at least where we are as well as in other cultures. I thinkthe answer is yes.