“The North American church is suffering from severe mission amnesia. It has forgotten why it exists.”[i] Reggie McNeal
Have you ever been on a mission trip? If so, did you ever take such a trip to another country? Imagine for a moment your church gathered this coming Lord’s Day as usual, but this day would be anything but normal. Today the entire congregation is loading buses following the final morning service. Passports in hand, you head to the airport and board as a group. Why? Your entire congregation is heading to a city in Asia where the gospel has never been proclaimed. You have decided as a congregation to do something adventurous, something quite revolutionary for your church.
Upon arrival your church begins to team up with national believers and missionaries to begin loving and serving the city while sharing Christ at every opportunity. Children are loved, lives are helped, communities are changed, and the Good News is heard. After three wearying but gratifying weeks, your entire fellowship boards a jumbo jet and heads home, exhausted, jet lagged, but amazingly fulfilled.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve service at your church. Through video uplink, your morning services witness live the leaders of the church you helped to birth in that Asian city. Picture this: for the first time in the history of the world, a group of Christ followers wishes your church a merry Christmas from that city. Never in the history of man has this happened from this city, and you were a part of making this happen. Don’t you think that would energize your church? No doubt many lives would be changed.
Here is the amazing news. Tomorrow morning your church can do just that. Not the boarding a plane to Asia part, but every day believers across the United States awaken and step into the fourth largest unchurched nation on earth. We are a mission field.
Mission trips are a wonderful thing. I have been on many across the U.S. and around the globe. But what if you thought of life is a mission trip? What if you and I and every believer in the West took the posture of a missionary, and began to raise our children, approach our jobs, and look at our neighbors from the view of a missionary? It could be revolutionary.
Imagine two believers, Billy and Buddy. Billy awakens every morning with a sense of duty, knowing he is supposed to read his Bible and talk to others about Jesus. He really doesn’t want to fail; he wants his life to matter. But he sees his Christian faith more as a checklist to accomplish and evil to avoid than a life to live large for Jesus’ Great Commission. He leaves home determined not to be sucked into the evil world’s ways, hoping not to fail.
But Buddy awakens each morning with the thought that this day, this very day, he gets to be a part in the mission of God as he speaks of Jesus, shows the compassion of Jesus, and brings joy to those around him. He’s not naive about the evil in the world, but his passion is for Jesus and His Kingdom. The though that Jesus created him to be a missionary stirs him to action, reading the Word to know God more and praying to be used by God. He wants to live a holy life because of the joy he has in the gospel, and he leaves home excited and filled with faith because he sees God at work.
Fast forward a couple years. Which of these two–although both genuinely seek to walk with God–is more likely to a) fulfill the Great Commission, and b) live a life marked by joy?
Life is a mission trip. Take it! Cultivate that vision in your people and watch them begin to function like missionaries. And relive the book of Acts in your very lifetime. It will take a movement like that not only to reach the world, but also to reach the West.
Adapted from Alvin L. Reid, Evangelism Handbook: Biblical, Spiritual, Intentional, Missional (Nashville, B & H Publishers, 2009).
[i] McNeal, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2003), 15.