Mission Myth 8: It’s All Strategic

I’ve been commenting on an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.

In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:

I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. … From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”

If you want to read all ten myths now, check out the article online. You can see my other articles on this topic by choosing God:World under “Categories” on the right-hand column of my blog page.

Myth #8: All Mission Effort Has the Same Strategic Value

Say we limit “missions” to work done for Jesus in a different culture. Should we then further distinguish value among different mission work? This is a dicey business and not for the faint of heart. Therefore, let me defer to my friend Rick, in Michigan, as he shares some of his frustration with this myth and myth number six.

“I think the unstoppable myth in our congregation (so far, anyway) is that there is really no difference between shoveling my neighbor’s sidewalk, doing relief work in the slums of Manila, and planting churches among unreached people. So of course in the absence of direct supernatural revelation from God, most people reach for the snow shovel. There is no consensus at all for the priority of frontier missions, and not much idea that the gospel has a purpose beyond making us nicer people who help other people to be nicer too.”

The value you place on a certain activity rises or falls based on the goal you’re shooting for. … [If] starting something among all people groups… is our goal, we prioritize the least reached and the unengaged.

There is a huge difference between continuing to work in a place where the Gospel is readily available, and a place where no one could learn about Jesus if they knew enough to try. Most of the church’s mission efforts are focused on the former. Only a tiny fraction of our resources are assigned to reaching those with no access to the gospel.

I remember sitting on a mission committee years ago, reading a request for funds from one of the missionaries our church supported in South America. The missionary asked for a large sum of money to purchase a lot to build a church “before the other denominations get to it first.” As we denied his request, we wondered what they were doing in that city, if there was that much competition among so many missionaries!

Compare that to another couple we know who moved to a Muslim country with a population that is less than 1% Christian. They are among only a handful of missionaries working to introduce Jesus to millions of lost people.

Frontier work is not for the faint of heart. It’s difficult, frustrating, and often dangerous. Years can go by before the first person believes. But this type of missions is crucial if there are to be believers from every people and tongue gathered around the throne of heaven.

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