Can you be a powerful Christian and never go on a mission trip? I used to answer this question – Sure, not everyone is called to go. Some in the body of Christ will serve in this way, others in a different way.
Now, I am challenging my own answer. In fact, I think it’s close to completely wrong. Every Christian is called to go, and difference-making Christians will have missions front and center just as the churches of the future will be the difference-making churches that send.
Dream Biblically with me. Were there any followers Jesus had that he did not send? The disciples are sent out repeatedly, and at the end of Matthew everyone is challenged with the command go and make disciples of all the nations.
As I have asked this question to friends I have been surprised by the number of strong Christians I know who have not gone on a mission trip or ever thought about going. I have also been surprised how churches can easily make participating a financial consideration. Churches preach tithing, often charge a la carte for youth ministry, Vacation Bible School and other ministries, and then ask members to pay the expense of a trip out of their own pocket. With this model, should we be surprised that missions is something even devoted Christians do not pursue?
Here is where it hurts the church – there is a connection between mission and generosity. When a believer directly experiences the orphanage, medical clinic, the auto-repair shop, or the congregation worshiping in a thatch hut over a mud floor something happens. I know God is God, but the Spirit just moves in a different way. I have seen it over and over again.
Recently I got back from working in an orphanage in Guatemala. The effect of being there is the effect of perspective. Watching Christians care for 500 kids you see how big God is, how strong faith is, how small my problems are, how blessed I am, and most importantly you see an open door through which Jesus is calling you.
The direct experience is life-changing, and what I find is once experienced people restructure their lives to give more of their their money and time away. The direct experience of caring for the widow and orphan also cares for me.
To say it differently, there is no such thing as Indirect Christianity and America is practicing a lot of it today. We are called to directly care for the last and least, and to the degree we stay in our pew or chair and do not go and care for these is the same degree our faith will be limited – not by God, but by us.
In Matthew 10, Jesus said to his disciples,
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Don’t think you can?
You’re right. Sitting there, nothing like what Jesus describes ever happens – now, go.
(thanks for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment and share)