The Effectiveness of Missional Discipleship: 5 Reasons Your Local Church Should Be Supporting Missions
Many churches work together to support foreign missionaries in faraway places, send congregants as either long-term or short-term missionaries and/or serve as giving partners to ministries that prioritize evangelism and discipleship internationally.
Some ministries contribute to the efficient process of building up local evangelists reaching their own people for Christ; just as we are each effective in our own locales, national ministers are also highly effective in their own communities. They intimately know the languages, cultures and people to whom they are ministering—and they don’t need a passport to do it!
I once read somewhere that Jesus did not say, “Send someone from your church to all the nations.” Sometimes our best ministry is in helping and building up those evangelists and pastors worldwide who are already moving for the kingdom in their own communities. Any church of any size can pray for and give to these ministries and have a direct connection to what God is doing around the world.
However if we choose to obey the Great Commission, can we agree that reaching the lost quickly and efficiently is of primary importance and doing so as effectively as possible is pleasing to the Lord?
It is of utmost importance that our churches support missions. Here’s five reasons why:
1. Support Missions Because if Believers Do Not Tell the Story, It Won’t Be Told.
The billions of lives at stake make this a high priority for each of our churches. Twenty-five years ago, in a hostel in Mozambique, I found a treasure of a book by Norm Lewis. He wrote, “To evangelize the world with God’s Good News is not an option for the follower of Christ. Jesus made worldwide witness the business of every believer.”
We must do what only the church can do. There are many good things we can do around the world to help others, such as feeding the poor, helping orphans, digging water wells and providing for the medical needs of the sick. These are all great acts of benevolence that we should do for others. Yet, as believers in Christ, we cannot do those things in place of reaching the lost and making disciples. When we serve in these tangible capacities, we must also bond them with evangelism and discipleship.
Evangelism and discipleship. If the church doesn’t do these things, no one else will. The souls of people everywhere depend on it. As believers, we are his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), and Paul describes the seriousness of our job “as though God were pleading through us.”
Are we pleading with others to follow Christ?
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)
2. Support Missions Because It’s Almost Quitting Time.
Time is running out. God has turned over the hourglass of time, and soon, the last drop of sand will fall. Our world is an utter mess. If we ever needed evidence that sin separates people from God, we can simply look around.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Humanity desperately needs a Savior. His name is Jesus, and he has already been here to pay the price for our sins. But the clock is ticking. The end is near. The time is coming when God will extend the last invitation for the lost to come and be saved by his grace.
Generations past have felt this, and we feel it more so now. This is the only time we have been given to reach the lost around the world, and it is the only time the lost have to receive Him. Soon, as believers, we will each stand before our Lord and give him an account of all he told us to do, how we obeyed and how we disobeyed. It is time for an all-out effort to win souls for Christ.
A great harvest is waiting to be brought in before it is too late. And there’s no second chance to bring in a ripe crop. What good is a harvest worker that lets the harvest rot?
3. Support Missions Because the Field Is the World.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
For God so loved the world; the whole world is the goal. Imagine people everywhere united by Jesus. The book of Revelation shows us that there will be a humongous parade representing all tribes, languages and nations marching in after the tribulation (Revelation 7:9).
God is glorified when one sinner trusts in him for salvation. He is also honored by multitudes of saved sinners. And not just by the number of souls but by where they come from. He desires people to know him from every nation. Scripture tells us this diverse group took palm branches in their hands and praised God, crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Some of my fellow Americans have asked me why I’m reaching lost people around the world while there are many lost people in America. When we get to heaven, we will not be planting an American flag on a cloud. I want to reach people no matter where they are, and I want to reach as many as I can.
We must develop a vision beyond the scope of our own little world in alignment with God’s worldwide rescue plan. How rewarding is it that God desires us to partake in Heaven’s homecoming parade?
4. Support Missions To Better Know God’s Heart.
That’s quite a statement. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. In Matthew, He told us to make disciples of all the nations. In Mark, he told us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. In Luke, he said to preach to all nations. In Acts, he said, “You will testify of Me to the farthest parts of the world.” I think it’s clear.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
If we struggle to have a heart or passion for missions, we can simply start putting some resources toward the mission field and see how our hearts are changed. Once we begin investing in missions, we start to pray for our mission endeavors, learn about what God is doing there and study what kind of return on investment we witness. This is how we develop our hearts for missions.
Sometimes, as believers, we seem to be more in love with the idea of reaching people for Christ than we are with actually reaching people for Christ. We know we’re supposed to, and we want to—but the job seems so big that we do nothing. We never start.
We must stop asking God to join us in our own plans and join him in his plans instead. Acting in small steps of obedience, seeking the Kingdom of God first, is where our lives become transformed.
5. Support Missions To Plant New Churches.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Partnering with nationals in establishing church plants is unbelievably impactful. The local pastors know where a new church is needed, and we don’t have to be the ones to build it; in fact, oftentimes we shouldn’t. Rather, helping financially allows us to support locals in building it themselves.
Across Africa, churches with mud brick walls and no roofs decorate the countryside. The church members make the bricks but have no money to buy a metal roof to protect the congregation from the sun and the bricks from the rain. If an American congregation buys a roof for an African sister church, prayers are answered; not only is a church family provided for, but jobs are made available in the process, skills training is developed, shelter is provided for future services and the body of Christ is further unified in supporting one another across national borders.
Every Church, Every Believer—We Are All Called to Missions.
Every church has a role in reaching the lost around the world. Our churches in the West can help advance the Gospel from home in many ways. Through missions, our churches become especially connected to the global church. Every local church, in its own unique way, can be a sending church. It is our job to make sure this happens.