A Global Missions Glossary

Jesus’ instructions were clear and unequivocal: “Go … and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28.19) Paraphrasing Article 6 of the Lausanne Covenant: “The whole Church is commissioned to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” What may be less clear are some of the terms and phrases used among global mission practitioners and mobilizers. This post is intended to help (at least a little) with some of the vocabulary:

Adherent: A follower of a particular religion, church or philosophy. This is the broadest possible category of such followers and includes professing and affiliated adults and also their children (practicing and non-practicing) who may reside in a given area or country.  

Adoption (of an unreached people): Making a commitment to an unreached people until there is an indigenous, reproducing church established among them. Aspects may include prayer, research, and networking toward church planting. Sometimes called “people group adoption” or adopt-a-people.  (There is currently no centralized People Group adoption systems. For more information, or to explore adopting an Unreached People Group, check out Finishing the Task, Global Adopt a People Campaign, or Adopt a UUPG of the IMB.)

Advocate: People group advocates are individuals who have committed themselves to one specific people group (ethnic group), to learn about them, their environment, culture, demographics, status, etc. They pray about how churches can be established among them. They may network and partner with others to encourage their involvement.  

Affinity Bloc: Families of peoples related in aspects such as religion, culture, history, politics, and geography. In nearly every bloc there are widely dissimilar and unrelated linguistic minorities, but often there is one particular culture that is dominant. 

Church planting: Missionary role of evangelism, discipleship and training of leaders for the establishment of a body of believers, or a church. Does not refer to a physical building.  

Closed Country: Countries that limit or prevent Christian ministry by expatriates as missionaries. Alternatively they are called creative-access countries, restricted access countries, closing countries, restrictive countries, sensitive countries.  

Cluster: Grouping of peoples within each affinity bloc which are closely related peoples and, for strategic purposes, may be clustered together. These relationships are often based on a common identity of language and name, but sometimes on the basis of culture, religion, economy, or dominance of one group over another.  

Collaboration: To combine forces and resources to meet a common goal.  

Contextualization: Adapting a biblical concept, mission method, etc., without changing the substance, to make it understood within the context of an ethnic culture. 

Ethnocentrism: Seeing the world through self-colored glasses, so that your culture always looks best and becomes the pattern everyone else should fit into. By no means is ethnocentrism restricted to the majority culture in a country, but it is a nearly universal tendency among humans. 

Ethnolinguistic People: An ethnic or racial group speaking its own language. A people group distinguished by its self-identity with traditions of common descent, history, customs and language. Also known as a people.  

Evangelism: An effective presentation of the Gospel by someone from the same culture, and within a culture where the missiological breakthrough of a viable church has already taken place.  

Expatriate: One who has taken up residence in a foreign country.  

Field: The location where ministry, church planting, and evangelism takes place.  

Field-based: Strategy determined by those on the field, rather than from those at the “home,” sending, or resource base.  

Frontier: Pertaining to unreached areas or peoples.  

Frontier Missions: Cross-cultural evangelism to People Groups where no missiological breakthroughs have occurred (or among a People Group where no viable church exists).  

Harvest Field: All who are not true Christians; not part of the Body of Christ.  

Harvest Force: Those of the Body of Christ who are involved in a direct or indirect way in helping to bring in the harvest of souls.  

Indigenous peoples or persons: Those individuals or groups who originate from a particular area; a national, a native.  

Joshua Project Unreached Peoples List: A listing of “country-distinct” peoples each over 10,000 in population that were chosen by their ethnolinguistic distinction and their status of being less than 2% Evangelical and less that 5% Christian adherents.  (see: Joshua Project)

Martyr: A Christian believer who dies in a situation of witness as a result of human hostility.  

Mission: The loving work of God to bring humankind to himself as the Church (missio dei). Secondarily, the overall ministry of the Church for world evangelization. 

Missiology: The study of missions and mission strategies; the theology of missions; how and why we do missions. 

Mission agency: A Christian organization helping to further God’s work in the world. “Mission board” and “sending agency” are virtually the same thing. 

Missionary: One who is sent with a message. The Christian missionary is one commissioned by a local church to evangelize, plant churches and disciple people away from his home area, among people of a different race, culture or language (i.e. cross culture).  

Missions Resource Organization: These agencies support the work of field missions and missionaries by offering information, resources, materials, and mobilization of the Church.  

National: Any person who is from the country to which a missionary is going.  

Network: An extended group of people with similar interests or concerns who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support.  

Non-Resident Missionary: Professional career missionary who is working towards the evangelization of a particular people or cluster, but resides outside the group, usually in a city with good international communications facilities and no surveillance. 

Para-church: Refers to a Christian organization independent of any church denominational structures. 

Partnership: An association of two or more autonomous bodies who have formed a trusting relationship and agreed upon expectations by sharing complementary strengths and resources, to reach their mutual goal.  

People Group: A significantly large sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity with one another. From the viewpoint of evangelization, this is the largest possible group within which the gospel can be spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.  

Prayer journey: A trip to pray on location for the lost. Team members may spend extended time prayerwalking, asking God to bring the Gospel to that unreached people group. It does not entail evangelism or mercy ministries.  

Prayerwalking: Praying “on-site with insight.” Taking prayers outside the church walls as we walk through an area. Praying in the very places we expect to see God bring forth His answers. Usually low profile and unobtrusive in appearance. 

Praying Through the Window: Prayer initiatives developed for the purpose of worldwide focused prayer for the countries and peoples in the 10/40 Window.  (see Pray Thru the Window) 

Reached/unreached: A term that is widely used today to describe people groups and areas that have or have not responded to the preaching of the gospel. Strictly, it should be a measure of the exposure of a people group to the gospel and not a measure of the response.  

Regular Missions: Pertaining to cross cultureal evangelism by a different-culture worker, in association with same-cultural workers if possible, where a missiological breakthrough has already taken place.  

Strategy Coordinator: One who develops and implements a strategy to reach a people group, working with a team or network. Support: The finances and prayer needed and given for mission trips & work. 

Syncretism: Fusion of differing systems of belief. Mixing Christianity with heresy.

Synergy: The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Cooperative interaction among groups that creates an enhanced combined effect.  

Tentmaker: A cross-cultural witness who works at a paying, usually secular, job overseas. Often they are able to gain entry into “closed” countries which restrict traditional mission efforts.  

10/40 Window: The area of the world between latitudes 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator in the Eastern hemisphere, covering North Africa, Middle East and Asia. The window has in view most of the world’s areas of greatest physical and spiritual need, most of the world’s least-reached peoples and most of the governments that oppose Christianity. (see What is the 10/40 Window? and Window International Network

Unreached /Least Reached People Group:  A people or people group among whom there is no viable indigenous community of believing Christians (i.e.  no church) with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people without outside (cross-cultural) assistance.  The general defining criteria is a People Group that is less than 2% Evangelical Christian and less than 5% Christian Adherents.  (see Joshua Project

World Evangelization: The whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world. The goal of giving every person the opportunity to hear the gospel in a way they understand, to become disciples of Christ, and to join with others in fellowship without leaving their own culture or people.  

If the Gospel Overtakes China…

In the news recently are reports that China’s Communist Leaders Fear Christian Population May Reach 300 Million by 2030. I first heard it mentioned on an episode of Breakpoint podcast, then later read about it from a couple of sources, including The Christian Post linked above. I have long been aware that the church in China was growing rapidly, exponentially. I have read that there are believed to be more Evangelical Christians in China than in the USA – more even than in the USA and Europe combined. But until this recent report, I don’t think I comprehended that the committed Christian population in China will soon match the total population of the USA! (USA estimates roughly 330 million population.) Astounding. Clearly God is doing an amazing thing among the Chinese people.

What has most grabbed my attention, however, is not the sheer number of Christians in China, but the seeming divergent tales of two cultures in response to the growing number of Christians in China and despite the growing number of Christians in China.

First, are the reports that the Communist Chinese government is aware and afraid of the growing number of Christians. They have tried persecution, executions, etc., but nothing has stopped the growth of the Church. Now realizing that the gospel cannot be stopped, and that at some point the number of Christians will lead to radical changes undermining the power of the Communist government, Party leaders fear losing their near absolute control.

Second, in contrast to the reports from China, here in the USA, many Evangelical Christians are among the Americans living in fear that the Church has lost the culture, and that China may soon take over the USA (here) – and maybe even the world! (here, here)

So here’s my question: Why is it that so many who believe the Gospel – and who believe in the God of the gospel – fear those who are afraid of the gospel that they know they are unable to overcome? Why do we not trust – and pray – that God is working out his purposes? (Habakkuk 2.14, Romans 8.28)

For those interested in learning more about what God is doing in China, check out:

One For the Thumb

Do you want to know an easy way to remember the 5 largest blocs of Unreached People Groups?  It’s as easy as looking at your thumb. In fact, looking at your thumb is the way to remember. Use the acrostic: T-H-U-M-B

  • Tribals
  • Hindu
  • Unreached Chinese
  • Muslim
  • Buddhist

A people group is considered unreached when less than 2% of its population are Evangelical Christians.  Perhaps the best resource for learning about all Unreached People Groups, and details about each people, is from Joshua Project.

Serving as Senders

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:

  1. The Need for Senders
  2. Moral Support
  3. Logistics Support
  4. Financial Support
  5. Prayer Support
  6. Communication Support
  7. Re-Entry Support
  8. 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.

Seeds of Mission in Isaiah

The following is an edited excerpt of an article written by Daniel Bianchi, from Lausanne Global Conversation. I’ve edited it because the English in the original was pretty rough. But Bianchi’s observations about the themes running throughout the Book of Isaiah, and how they reflect issues related to the mandate for Global Mission, are worth noting.


1. A Vision of God’s Supremacy

A vision of God and his uniqueness is the basis of a committed mission to his people and to the nations.

Ponder about the existing link between the vision of who God is:

  • in creation
  • in history
  • in redemption
  • in eternity

…and how that should fuel, sustain, strength and direct my mission commitment.

Throughout Isaiah the prophet declares and gives evidence that YHWH is:

  • Unique
  • Glorious
  • Just and holy
  • Merciful
  • Redeemer
  • Powerful

2. The Challenge of Idolatry

In the backdrop of Isaiah lays the pervasive influence of idolatry. Isaiah confronts God’s people with their sin and, bluntly, vividly, and sometimes sarcastically, points out their gross idolatry.

Idolatry is:

  • Foolish when compared to the revelation of who God is.
  • Helplessness when compare with the acts of God in history and in the story of His people.
  • Oppressive when compare to the grace and freedom of their relationship with the true God.
  • Inconsistent when compared with the nature of God and their identity.

The influence of idolatry is present today.  

This is not only a question of bowing down to images of stones or wood. Is much wider in scope, deeper in influence. The gods and goddesses of today:

  • power
  • wealth
  • knowledge
  • sensuality
  • etc.

…are as real, evasive and demanding that those of Isaiah’s time.

Furthermore, this brings the question on how we, as people of God, in our time and place, are to realate to peoples of other faiths in a pluralistic and relativistic society.

Yes, the people of God sinned. In due time God sent judgment. Now the time for restoration, comfort and re-commissioning had come. He would stand for his own again, and would do new things: a new exodus was coming, a renewed relationship, and a new Servant was to be introduced. The “Servant” would accomplish God’s will – although -in unexpected ways.

3. A Perspective of World Events

The prophet shed some light upon the unexpected ways that God has accomplished his purposes in the history of men. God called a pagan king: his anointed, pastor of his people, and a servant. Maybe that king remained totally blind to the fact that God was using him. Nevertheless, God did use him.

Going further, Scriptures, shows that sometimes God, in turn, sends judgment upon those nations and governments that He initially used to accomplish his purposes. This raises questions about how we might interpret todays events of history…

4. A Wider Scope for the Mission

Isaiah cares for his people and stresses God’s faithfulness and patience with Israel. However, he goes much further. He points to the Nations and the Peoples of the world.

Isaiah is a precious gold mine where we discover God’s universal and overarching purposes.

The stage is the Nations. The word “nation” has a rich theological meaning in the Scriptures. Some of Isaiah’s teaching on God and the nations:

  • Nations are insignificant when compare with God.
  • Nations will know the justice of God.
  • Nations will receive the light of God.
  • Nations will partake in the salvation of God.
  • Nations will have the witness of the people and the Servant of God.
  • Nations are the scenarios of God’s redeeming actions.


Isaiah shows that to join in God’s mission, we need a vision of God’s uniqueness and majesty.

This awe of God confronts all forms of idolatry and sin. First among his people. And then among the Nations. God is just, and will bring restoration and to execute judgment. He will accomplish His promise of redemption, hope and salvation to Israel and to the Nations through the calling, suffering and triumph of his beloved Servant and the resulting obedience of His people.

To read the original article click: Seeds

Haitian Hope

The eyes of America are turned toward Haiti, and hearts are going out to that poorest country in the Western Hemishpere, too.  Like many, it is with great interest I am watching the news and hearing of all the tangible aid that is going to the people who were tragically impacted by that 7.0 eathquake. 

I am glad to see people moved in this way – both people of faith and faithless people.  I am glad because every resident of Haiti is a creature made after the image of God – as am I, as are we all.  As those made in the image of God the people of Haiti have an inherent value.  Thus all attempts to alleviate their suffering is a proper response to their present plight. Their inherent value as bearers of the image of God demands it.

But one question remains in my mind: What is the objective of this relief?   Are we simply trying to help these people to put thier lives back together the way they were before the earhtquake? 

That hardly seems much better than their current circumstances. 

If you know anything about Haiti you know it is a vivid illustration of contrasts: The natural beuaty of creation inhabited by the ugliness of  humanity.  Not only is it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but it is also perhaps the most corrupt, unstable, and ungodly.  By no reasonable measure was life good even before the earthquake that has rocked their world. 

Here is a little background on Haiti:

Explored by Columbus on Dec. 6, 1492, Haiti’s native Arawaks fell victim to Spanish rule. In 1697, Haiti became the French colony of Saint-Dominique, which became a leading sugarcane producer dependent on slaves. In 1791, an insurrection erupted among the slave population of 480,000, resulting in a declaration of independence by Pierre-Dominique Toussaint l’Ouverture in 1801. Napoléon Bonaparte suppressed the independence movement, but it eventually triumphed in 1804 under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who gave the new nation the Arawak name Haiti . It was the world’s first independent black republic.  (Source: Countries of the World)

What is less known and less reported is that during the 1791 revolution the slaves in revolt dedicated the island to Satan.  In their eyes, Satan was seen to be the opposition of the (pretense of) Christianity their oppressors instituted.  Subsequently and consequently, despite a long history of being a Roman Catholic Church-State, (which ended in 1987,) Voodooism is the real religion of the island.  Even 75% of the professing Catholics in Haiti practice voodoo. 

With voodoo as the prevailing religon, is it any wonder that instability, injustice, and treachery are marks of this civilization? 

As aid pours into Haiti, my hope is that it would be accompanied by even more prayer.  Haiti needs a change at its very core.  The people who live there, made after the image of God, need a major work of God.  My hope is that this earthquake has prepared the people to recieve it. 

Let me encourage you, each time you see Haiti on the news, in these coming days and week, in addition to any tangible assitance God may lead you to offer, take a moment to offer prayer for the transformation of that island.  To aid you in aiding the people of Haiti through informed prayer check out Operation World: Haiti

May God make beauty from the ashes of Haiti. (Isaiah 61.3)

Minutemen for Haiti

While hearts were breaking in Tennessee on Tuesday, because a football coach bailed and jumped onto a Trojan ship, lives were being shattered in Haiti.  It is amazing how such news puts things in proper perspective.

During this week friends and church members have asked if there is anything they can do to provide relief to the effected islanders, if there is any avenue through which they can contribute.  There are many good organizations working through this tragedy, but I want to take a moment to highlight one: Minutemen for Missions.

Minutemen for Missions is an arm of Mission to the World.  Those who sign up to be Minutemen (and women) are kept posted about disasters around the world, prayer needs, and opportunities to send support.  There is no specific expectation every time there is a natural disaster, but you will be notified and kept informed about the situations. It is up to each individual to determine what, or if, they will do in response.

Minutemen is a hand of compassion as an extension of MTW’s regular, church plating, ministries.

Global Missions is Not For SuperChristians

Missions is not just for Super Christians.  The Great Commission will be accomplished by ordinary people, who posess a heartfelt faith in Jesus Christ, and who are faithful to follow Jesus’ instruction to go into all the world to make discples. 

Simple, right?

Well, the concept is simple. Even the decision to oby or not obey is a simple choice. There are only two options, yes and no. There is no in between.  But the implementation is not so simple.  Each individual has a question to answer regarding his/her role.  Even before that role is determined one must be informed about what roles there are that need to be played.  Then there are the questions about what God is doing in the world. What skills do I have, or do I need to develop?  How do I figure out where in the world I should go?

Every Christian is called to answer these questions.  No one can slip by, simply dismissing Jesus’ mandate by saying, “I’m not called to missions.”  Even if that were true – and I suspect it would be more accurate to say “I am not called to go overseas” – we are still left to answer the question: Then what are you called to do?  And, Where are you called to do it? No one whom God has called has been called without a purpose for his/her life.  And frankly, whatever the specific purpose, at least an aspect of everyone’s calling is connected to taking the Gospel to the Nations. 

I am aware of no better tool to help people discover what God is doing in the world and what role they can play in God’s Mission (missio dei) than the PERSPECTIVES course.  This course does take work, but the benefits far overshadow the expended effort.  To say PERSPECTIVES makes a life-changing impact is not mere hyperoble.  It’s true. 

The above video offers testimonies from some who have participated in this couse.  The video encourages you to find a class near you, which I would also urge.  But what is not revealed in the video is that if an intensive 15 week course is not feasible for you, for whatever reasons, there are alternatives. One is an Intensive PERSPECTIVES class, where participants are indundated with God’s Global Glory for either one or three weeks of instruction. I am not sure how the corresponding readings are handled.  Another option is to take this course online. When taken online you don’t have the benefit of  interaction with other participants, but you can spread your reading out over the course of a year.  For this option check out: PERSPECTIVES Online.

And finally, if you are a college or seminary student, PERSPECTIVES can be taken for either undergad or grad school credits.

Cats & Dogs and God’s Global Glory

First among the Core Values at Walnut Hill Church is God’s Global Glory.  This is the recognition that we do not exist, as a church or as individuals, primarily for ourselves, but for God and for his glory. 

Expressing this as a platitude is one thing.  Getting newcomers to agree with this premise is something else. And getting people to embrace it as an actual value that is lived out in their lives, and in the life of our church, is something else altogether. 

How do we get people to reorient their thinking and make corresponding changes in their lives?  That’s the question the leaders of the church have to wrestle with. Making it all the more difficult is our own inconsistency.  We are the living embodiment of the words from the old hymn: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it… Prone to leave the God I love…”  And so are the people we are called to lead. (And, most likely, so are you.)

One of the most effetive tools I am aware of regarding the teaching of this value is Cat & Dog Theology developed by UnveilinGlory.  (See video above.)

I introduced Cat & Dog Theology to our church about a year ago, at our first missions conference at Walnut Hill.  We had Gerald Robison, vice president of UnveilinGlory as the keynote speaker.  From time to time church members still talk about both the conference and, more importantly, what they learned through the messages. 

But how do we build on that?

UnvelinGlory has now developed a series of web-based instructional videos that makes Cat & Dog Theology, along with other resources, available online.  So far I’ve only had opportunity glance through a few of the videos, but it looks promising.  Each of the videos is relatively short – 20 minutes, more or less.  But the videos I’ve seen contain both the substance and style that makes the seminar interesting and instructive. 

I encourage you to check out: Our Journey With Him

While there is an opportunity to sign up for a Premium membership, all the videos are available for free if you sign in as a guest.


One of my driving convictions is that every Christian is to be actively involved in the advancement of the Kingdom of God throughout the world.  It is not a task assigned to only a select few. 

The question for any of us is: “What role will I play?”

Obviously not all are called to a career of cross culture ministry.  But to be active in the advancement of the Kingdom, it may mean you are called  to be a Goer, a Sender, or a Mobilizer.  All are necessary. 

But which one?

I know of no better resource to explore what is doing around the world and discover what God is calling you to do than PERSPECTIVES on the World Christian Movement.  Check out this introductory video clip:

PERSPECTIVES is offered at a number of venues across the USA each year, or you can participate online.

We Are One

We are one body, the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12.27)  If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. If one part is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12.26)  Paul, the Apostle, vividly reminds us that as Christians we are, not only organizationally but, dynamically knitted together.  Therefore, the Apostle instructs us, we are to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”  (Romans 12.15)

The 2008 International Day of Prayer of the Persecuted Church has now passed. My hope is that you joined with us at Walnut Hill Church in remembering, and even praying for, those who live in the face of persecution and suffering for the Faith.  If you were not able to participate this year, let me encourage you to make a note and join us next year.  (It is always observed the second Sunday in November.)  In the mean time, please remember that the need of our brothers and sisters, and the opportunity to demonstrate our oneness, is an everpresent reality. 

The following video provides a glimpse of the joy that unity, and our supportive prayer, brings to those living in hostile cultures. 

Amazingly, those who live in At Risk cultures do not ask only, or even primarily, that the persecution cease.  In fact, according to a list compiled by Voice of the Martyrs, when asked many at-risk believers say they want us to pray the following requests when we think of our persecuted brethern:

1. Pray for faithful disciples, people who will be faithful, no matter what the cost. (1 Corinthians 4.9-14, 16)

2. Pray thier faithfulness, even in suffering, will be the magnet that draws others to Christ. (Psalm 91)

3. Pray for God’s grace and strength for persecuted believers to forgive their persecutors. (Romans 8.11)

4. Pray that those who are persecuted will have opportunites to share Christ with their persecutors.  (Colossians 4.3)

5. Pray for the release of pastors and other believers who have been falsely accused and imprisoned. (Luke 6.27-28)

6. Pray for boldness and courage for believers in the face of fear. (Isaiah 40.29-31)

7. Pray the Holy Spirit will bring understanding, conviction and salvation to persecutors. (2 Corinthians 4.3-6)

8. Pray that persecuted Christians (and those not persecuted as well) would lovingly and obediently respond in the Spirit and service of Christ. (John 20.21)

9. Pray that the fields white for harvest will be reached while there is time. (John 4.34-36)

10. Having prayed for them, then be willing to say: “Lord, Here am I, send me.” (Isaiah 6.8)

As I look at these prayer requests from or persecuted brethern, I marvel at how they are so focused on something bigger than self preservation, comfort, prosperity, safety, or success.  They are focused far more on the Kingdom of God. 

I pray that I may grow to be so Kingdom-centric.  I invite you to pray that for me too. I’ll appreciate it.

Mapping Out Missions in Your Church


It was theirs for the taking. So Moses, at God’s prompting, sent a dozen spies into the Canaan to explore the land God promised to give to Israel.  But God never promised Moses that taking the land would be easy. Canaan was filled with powerful people and fortified cities.  Ten of the spies weighed the risk and decided it wasn’t worth it. Two, however, Joshua & Caleb, were men of courage, faith, and faithfulness.  God had promised them that land. God had instructed them to take it.  “Let’s roll” they said. “We should go take posession of the land. We can do it.”  (Numbers 13)


You may be in a similar situation. You may not have thought about it this way, but that is the scenario facing everyone selcted to serve on the missions committee of thier church. 


God the Son has issued a mandate for world evangelization. (Matthew 28.18-20) He intends to claim the hearts and lives of men & women, boys & girls, from every Tribe on earth.  He has promised to supply the power. (Acts 1.8)  He has guaranteed ultimate success.  Still, the task ahead is not easy.  The faithful will experience all kinds of obstacles and opposition. And just like Joshua & Caleb, some of that opposition will come from inside the camp, from those who are commissioned to partner with you, but who are too timid to carry out the mission.  Completion will take courage, commitment, and sacrifice.  It requires faithfulness.


So yo are a Joshua or a Caleb. You are on the missions committee, and you are determined to take the lands. You are just not sure exactly how to go about it. It’s a big job. What does it entail? Where do you begin?


It is important to remember that all Christians are called to the advancement of the Gospel to all Nations. This task is not the responsibility of a select few who serve, whether you volunteered or you were appointed by their church, as a missions committee.  Missions is not one ministry among many in the church.  Mission, along with worship, is the essence of Being the church. And every church member has a role, whether they are Go-ers, Senders, and/or Mobilizers.


The task of the missions committee is to facilitate the work of global missions in the church through leadership, evaluation, administration, and delegation of the various tasks associated with cross cultural ministry.  


The following list is an overview of the roles of the mission ministry.  It takes into consideration mission ministry strengths identified by mission mobilization network ACMC, but I have consolidated them into more manageable categories.  A healthy missions ministry will include every category.  However, no church can be equally great at all possible functions within each category.




Every church must have a clear strategy that recognizes its responsibility to participate in the completion of the Great Commission, and the specific ways it will participate to accomplish that task. Simple mission involvement, while good, is not an adequate objective. 


Strategy of the church includes: Adoption of Unreached Peoples; Sending Structures; and Partnerships with Agencies and or Nationals.




Mobilization is active involvement toward accomplishing the remaining task of the Great Commission.


There are various roles (i.e. Go-ers, Senders, Mobilizers), various levels of readiness, and different callings among church members.  In other words, it is rare that someone will be called and prepared for career missions without having initially taken short term mission trips. On the other hand, most who go on short term trips will never be called to career missions.  Appropriate entry and preparation levels need to be offered.  And church members should be encouraged and expected to discern his/her own role in the task of reaching the Nations. 


Mobilization means getting increasing numbers of people to actively carry out their distinct role. Mobiolization means equipping them to do so.


Mobilization includes: Short Term Cross Cultural trips; Encouraging Tent-making; Adoption of Unreached Peoples; Training Candidates; Strategic Partnerships; Prayer; and Ministry to Internationals.




Missionary Care focuses on caring for the missionaries, both on the field and while at home on Home Missionary Assignment, or HMA. (NOTE: This used to be referred to as Furlough).  It also applies to caring for those who are in preparation for career mission.


This is one area I anticipate our church, Walnut Hill PCA, should excel in as we grow in our missions ministry. One of the great strengths of our church – perhaps the greatest strength – is the way the people love one another.  Missionary Care is simply an extension of that love.  And this practical love is part of our mission.  Paraphrasing Francis Schaeffer: “The way we love one another is a demonstration of the Gospel we proclaim.” (John 13.34-35) 


Practical means of Missionary Care includes: Caring for Tangible, Emotional, and Spiritual Needs; Communication with Missionaries; Holistic Prayer; Funding & Support; Visiting Missionaries on the Field.




Education is teaching people about God’s heart for the Nations and about the Great Commission. It keeps people informed about what God is doing around the world. It is the reminder of the remaining task. And it is the equipping of each church member to carry out his/her particular roles.


Means of Education include: Missions Conferences/Festivals; Classes & Seminars; Publications; Hands-on Experiences;  Training & Preparation for Short-term and/or career missions.


The Scope of Missions Education should include the whole church. Intentional attention should be given to Children, and to Teens, who are preparing to make life decisions.  But most adults also benefit from missions education. 




Administration is dealing with all the behind-the-scenes details of missions, and management of this ministry.  This is an important aspect of Mobilizing.  And each of the above categories requires some level of administration.


Pertaining to the missions committee, Administration includes: Policy Development; Job Descriptions for committee members, and others who serve specific functions (i.e. Missions Conference Planner); Communications with Missionaries; Missions Budget Preparation and Management; and Vetting & Selection of Missionaries to be supported.  


The task of taking the Nations for Christ through missions may seem like a battle agianst giants.  But remember, you are not doing it alone.  If each church plays its part there will be a great army advancing the Kingdom of God’s Grace.  There are more than 600 Evangelical churches in the world for every Unreached People Group.  If every church – if even a significant minority of those churches – gears up for the task, missions experts tell us that the completion of the Great Commission can very definitely be accomplished in this generation!


Pray that God would give you the spirit of Joshua & Caleb.  They recognized the strength of their opposition and the difficult battles ahead of them.  But they also knew that God would empower them to do whatever he called them to do.

The Supremacy of God in Missions Through Worship

by John Piper

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Psalm 97.1). “Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Psalm 67.3-4).

But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!”, who cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the Lord…I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 104.34; 9.2). Missions begins and ends in worship.

If the pursuit of God’s glory is not ordered above the pursuit of man’s good in the affections of the heart and the priorities of the church, man will not be well served and God will not be duly honored. I am not pleading for a diminishing of missions but for a magnifying of God. When the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth, the light of missions will shine to the most remote peoples on earth. And I long for that day to come!

Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak. Churches that are not centered on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God will scarcely kindle a fervent desire to “declare his glory among the nations” (Psalm 96.3). Even outsiders feel the disparity between the boldness of our claims upon the nations and the blandness of our engagement with God.

Albert Einstein’s Indictment

For example, Charles Misner, a scientific specialist in general relativity theory, expressed Albert Einstein‘s skepticism over the church with words that should waken us to the shallowness of our experience with God in worship.

“The design of the universe…is very magnificent and shouldn’t be taken for granted. In fact, I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religion, although he strikes me as a basically very religious man. He must have looked at what the preacher said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty than they had every imagined, and they were just not talking about the real thing. My guess is that he simply felt that religions he’d run across did not have proper respect…for the author of the universe.”

The charge of blasphemy is loaded. The point is to pack a wallop behind the charge that in our worship services God simply doesn’t come through for who he is. He is unwittingly belittled. For those who are stunned by the indescribable magnitude of what God has made, not to mention the infinite greatness of the One who made it, the steady diet on Sunday morning of practical “how to’s” and psychological soothing and relational therapy and tactical planning seem dramatically out of touch with Reality–the God of overwhelming greatness.

It is possible to be distracted from God in trying to serve God. Martha-like , we neglect the one thing needful, and soon begin to present God as busy and fretful. A.W. Tozer warned us about this:

“We commonly represent God as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world. … Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of Almighty God.”

Scientists know that light travels at the speed of 5.87 trillion miles in a year. They also know that the galaxy of which our solar system is a part is about 100,000 light-years in diameter–about five hundred eighty seven thousand trillion miles. It is one of about a million such galaxies in the optical range of our most powerful telescopes. In our galaxy there are about 100 billion stars. The sun is one of them, a modest star burning at about 6,000 degrees Centigrade on the surface, and traveling in an orbit at 155 miles per second, which means it will take about 200 million years to complete a revolution around the galaxy.

Scientists know these things and are awed by them. And they say, “If there is a personal God, as the Christians say, who spoke this universe into being, then there is a certain respect and reverence and wonder and dread that would have to come through when we talk about him and when we worship him.”

We who believe the Bible know this even better than the scientists because we have heard something even more amazing:

“To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who created these (stars)? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. (Isaiah 40.25-26)

Every one of the billions of stars in the universe is there by God’s specific appointment. He knows their number. And, most astonishing of all, he knows them by name. They do his bidding as his personal agents. When we feel the weight of this grandeur in the heavens, we have only touched the hem of his garment. “Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways! And how small a whisper do we hear of him” (Job 26.14). That is why we cry ‘Be exalted, O God, Above the heavens!’ (Psalm 57.5). God is the absolute reality that everyone in the universe must come to terms with. Everything depends utterly on his will. All other realities compare to him like a raindrop compares to the ocean, or like an anthill compares to Mt. Everest. To ignore him or belittle him is unintelligible and suicidal folly. How shall one ever be the emissary of this great God who has not trembled before him with joyful wonder?

The Second Greatest Activity in the World

The most crucial issue in missions is the centrality of God in the life of the church. Where people are not stunned by the greatness of God, how can they be sent with the ringing message, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods!” (Psalm 96.4)? Missions is not first and ultimate: God is. And these are not just words. This truth is the lifeblood of missionary inspiration and endurance. William Carey, the father of modern missions, who set sail for India from England in 1793, expressed the connection:

“When I left England, my hope of India’s conversion was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles, it would die, unless upheld by God. Well, I have God, and His Word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, and the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on the sure Word, would rise above all obstructions and overcome every trial. God’s cause will triumph.”

Carey and thousands like him have been moved by the vision of a great and triumphant God. That vision must come first. Savoring it in worship precedes spreading it in missions. All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and his Son among all the peoples of the earth. Missions is not that goal. It is the means. And for that reason it is the second greatest human activity in the world.

God’s Passion for God Is the Foundation for Ours

One of the things God uses to make this truth take hold of a person and a church is the stunning realization that it is also true for God himself. Missions is not God’s ultimate goal, worship is. And when this sinks into a person’s heart everything changes. The world is often turned on its head. And everything looks different–including the missionary enterprise.

The ultimate foundation for our passion to see God glorified is his own passion to be glorified. God is central and supreme in his own affections. There are no rivals for the supremacy of God’s glory in his own heart. God is not an idolater. He does not disobey the first and great commandment. With all his heart and soul and strength and mind he delights in the glory of his manifold perfections. The most passionate heart for God in all the universe is God’s heart.

This truth, more than any other I know, seals the conviction that worship is the fuel and goal of missions. The deepest reason why our passion for God should fuel missions is that God’s passion for God fuels missions. Missions is the overflow of our delight in God because missions is the overflow of God’s delight in being God. And the deepest reason why worship is the goal in missions is that worship is God’s goal. We are confirmed in this goal by the Biblical record of God’s relentless pursuit of praise among the nations. “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!” (Psalm 117.1). If it is God’s goal it must be our goal.

The Chief End of God Is to Glorify God and Enjoy Himself For Ever

All my years of preaching and teaching on the supremacy of God in the heart of God have proved that this truth hits most people like a truck laden with unknown fruit. If they survive the impact, they discover that it is the most luscious fruit on the planet. I have unpacked this truth with lengthy arguments in other places. So here I will just give a brief overview of the Biblical basis. What I am claiming is that the answer to the first question of the Westminster Catechism is the same when asked concerning God as it is when asked concerning man. Question: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” Question: “What is the chief end of God?” Answer: “The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself for ever.”

Another way to say it is simply, God is righteous. The opposite of righteousness is to value and enjoy what is not truly valuable or rewarding. This is why people are called unrighteous in Romans 1.18. They suppress the truth of God’s value and exchange God for created things. So they belittle God and discredit his worth. Righteousness is the opposite. It means recognizing true value for what it is and esteeming it and enjoying it in proportion to its true worth. The unrighteous in 2 Thessalonians 2.10 perish because they refuse to love the truth. The righteous, then, are those who welcome a love for the truth. Righteousness is recognizing and welcoming and loving and upholding what is truly valuable. God is righteous. This means that he recognizes, welcomes, loves and upholds with infinite jealousy and energy what is infinitely valuable, namely, the worth of God. God’s righteousness passion and delight is to display and uphold his infinitely valuable glory. This is not a vague theological conjecture. It flows inevitably from dozens of Biblical texts that show God in the relentless pursuit of praise and honor from creation to consummation.

Probably no text in the Bible reveals the passion of God for his own glory more clearly and bluntly than Isaiah 48.9-11 where God says,

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”

I have found that for many people these words come like six hammer blows to a man-centered way of looking at the world:

For my name’s sake! For the sake of my praise! For my own sake! For my own sake! How should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another!

What this text hammers home to us is the centrality of God in his own affections. The most passionate heart for the glorification of God is God’s heart. God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name.

“For the Sake of His Name among All the Nations

Paul makes crystal clear in Romans 1.5 that his mission and calling are for the name of Christ among all the nations: “We have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations.”

The apostle John described the motive of early Christian missionaries in the same way. He wrote to tell one of his churches that they should send out Christian brothers in a manner “worthy of God.” And the reason he gives is that “they have gone out for the sake of his name, taking nothing from the Gentiles.” ( 3 John 6-7).

John Stott comments on these two texts (Romans 1:5; 3 John 7):

“They knew that God had superexalted Jesus, enthroning him at his right hand and bestowing upon him the highest rank, in order that every tongue should confess his lordship. They longed that Jesus should receive the honor due his name.”

This longing is not a dream but a certainty. at the bottom of all our hope, when everything else has given way, we stand on this great reality: the everlasting, all- sufficient God is infinitely, unwaveringly, and eternally committed to the glory of his great and holy name. For the sake of his fame among the nations he will act. His name will not be profaned forever. The mission of the church will be victorious. He will vindicate his people and his cause in all the earth.

The absence of [David] Brainerd‘s passion for God is the great cause of missionary weakness in the churches. This was Andrew Murray‘s judgement a hundred years ago:

“As we seek to find out why, with such millions of Christians, the real army of God that is fighting the hosts of darkness is so small, the only answer is–lack of heart. The enthusiasm of the kingdom is missing. And that is because there is so little enthusiasm for the King.”

The zeal of the church for the glory of her King will not rise until pastors and mission leaders and seminary teachers make much more of the King. When the glory of God himself saturates our preaching and teaching and conversation and writings, and when he predominates above our talk of methods and strategies and psychological buzz words and cultural trends, then the people might begin to feel that he is the central reality of their lives and that the spread of his glory is more important than all their possessions and all their plans.

The Call of God

God is calling us above all else to be the kind of people whose theme and passion is the supremacy of God in all of life. No one will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause who does not feel the magnificence of Christ. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others into our worship where there is no passion for worship.

God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of his name among the nations. Therefore let us bring our affections into line with his, and, for the sake of his name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts, and join his global purpose. If we do this, God’s omnipotent commitment to his name will be over us like a banner, and we will not lose, in spite of many tribulations (Acts 9.16; Romans 8.35-39). Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. The Great Commission is first to delight yourself in the Lord (Psalm 37.4) . And then to declare, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Psalm 67.4). In this way God will be glorified from beginning to end and worship will empower the missionary enterprise till the coming of the Lord.

Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the ages!  Who shall not fear and glorify your name, O Lord? For you alone are holy.   All nations shall come and worship you, for your judgments have been revealed.  –Revelation 15.3-4


This article is excerpted from the first chapter of John Piper’s book, Let the Nations Be Glad. This article also appeared in Mission Frontiers magazine from the U.S. Center for World Mission.