Pastoral Perspectives

Be Engaged In Missions

        Once a year, most churches would have had set aside a month or at least a Sunday for Missions. This is no exception for True Way. In the past, we’ve assigned every fourth Sunday as Missions Sunday. Only recently, we now have the month of August designated as Missions Month. We have also intentionally included missions in some of our Church camp which resulted in a ministry every Saturday in Renggit, Malaysia. We’ve adopted an Unreached Peoples Group known as SQ for the last 10 years and tithe 10% of our total budget towards missions. The question still is: “Are we not engaged in missions as a Church?”

            I grew up in a Church that is not just filled with missionary programmes but have sent out many missionaries of which I was one of their ‘sent’ missionaries. There aren’t too many of such Churches today. I have known ‘missionary’churches which does not relate much to people in their own vicinity. There are also many congregations, which don’t have homegrown overseas missionaries in their prayers and budgets. Some churches have volunteers to run Thrift Shops, or Meals-on-Wheels, but can’t name any recent converts. It’s the devil’s job to polarize churches in all these areas, making them exclusive to one another. When a church ceases to care primarily about the Great Commission that church has lost its way.

         Many churches are more committed to self-preservation and meeting the needs of members rather than to missions. However, I hope and pray that more and more churches will move away from this inward-looking posture to one that is truly and fully missional – i.e. “sent” by God to do God’s work. Every church should recognize its missional identity and should act in faithfulness to this identity. If we define missions, broadly, as reaching across cultures with the Gospel in word and deed, then we are doing missions in a continually changing world with more and more cultural barriers. Similarly, ministering to people of different nationalities and languages in their home countries is obviously crossing cultures and, therefore missions. Ministering to these same people when they move into our country is crossing cultures, and therefore missions. Ministering to their children who grow up in a dual culture, that of their parents and that of their environment is missions. Our neighbours who were not raised in church, who use the same language and even the same words, often think very differently from us. They often mean different things by many of the religious terms and other words we have in common. Many have a different understanding of what is absolute and what is relative, what is morally right and what is wrong, what is vital and what is unimportant, what is to be encouraged and what is to be avoided, what is to be tolerated and what is not. They have not only a different value system, but also a different worldview, which is perhaps the deepest cultural barrier. And so, in this respect, ministering to our unchurched neighbors is, to a growing degree, cross-cultural and being engaged in missions too.

         It has always been assumed that the responsibility of the congregation-ordinary.  Christians are to reach out in witness, love and service to our own culture; and it is the responsibility of people with special training in cross-cultural understanding and communication, sent and supported by the church, to do missions. A major responsibility of the missions committee is to help prepare and send cross-cultural workers and decide what mission organization to support. Since our world has changed we must somehow, within the church, train a broader range of believers to be effectively reaching across various degrees of cultural difference. It may be difficult, but is it possible? What do you think?

        Missions is not an individual or a private matter, neither is the work of missions a personal project upon which one simply makes a personal report. The work of missions is in the hands of every believer. (Acts 13:1 – 3) Why is there not more mission work being done in this age of plenty? It is because of unconcern! Unconcern for the souls of countless millions who are still in the black pit of sin and unbelief. The reason for much of this unconcern is that so much of paganism has been Christianized in name, while professing Christendom has been paganized in practice. One cannot expect a person who has never been saved himself to have any burden to carry the good news of salvation to others.

            A. J. Gordon in E. A. Gordon’s A. J. Gordon, A Biography, p. 250. wrote: “The church which is not a missionary church will be a missing church during the next fifty years, its candle of consecration put out, if not its candlestick removed out of its place. As ministers and churches of Jesus Christ, our self-preservation is conditioned on our obedience to the great commission. Now it is preach or perish! Evangelize or fossilize! Be a saving church, with girded loins and burning lamp, carrying a lost world in its heart day and night; or be a secularized church, lying on the heart of this present evil world, and allowing it to gird you and carry you whithersoever it will. Which shall it be?”

        It is clear that any failure in the matter of missions is not due to the lack of power of the Lord, but because the Lord’s people have not risen to their responsibility to support those whom the Lord has called to the mission field. Many will urge the cause of missions only so long as it does not inconvenience them, nor cost them anything. God’s power is unlimited, as are His resources, but He has chosen to work through His people. It is never “someone else’s responsibility.” The problem with many is their unwillingness to recognize personal responsibility regarding mission work. They wrongly assume that the Great Commission only obligates preachers and missionaries to “go into all the world.”

        The choice is clear BE ENGAGED IN MISSIONS. There is no middle ground. There is no standing still. A church must move forward, or it will slide backwards. Every Christian must answer for his own life and action and only those who have faithfully obeyed the Lord will receive His praise and reward. This alone should be enough to move us to faithfulness. It is not how faithful we have been in men’s eyes that will matter, but how faithful we have been by God’s standard. Therefore, since the command to do mission work is evidently obligatory upon every believer and every church, each one needs to examine his life in this light.

Pastor Cheng Huat

July 3, 2011