In my discussions with Bryan Barley (see “Disciples Who Make Disciples“), he shared the way his faith community was defining their mission. If you have been involved in any American churchianity you have come across the unhealthy view of missions as “over there.” You know, the missionary comes to your church with their overhead projector, slideshow, and indigenous outfit to share about what it means to be a missionary.
The Biblical reality is that all Christians are full-time missionaries. Most are full-time paid missionaries who get their pay from some occupation not related to their faith (i.e., schoolteacher, lawyer, nurse, etc.). Many Christians see missionaries as the super-Christians who are uniquely called to dedicate their lives to sharing the gospel to a particular group of people (usually in a foreign context). The reality is that all Christians are called to dedicate their lives to sharing the gospel with a particular group of people. Some of us (far more of us than have actually gone) are called to go to the lost nations of the world. However, in the modern world many of the nations have come to America. My most effective years of “mission” where when I was a student at William and Mary (“Bill and the Babe” as we alums call it). Many college campuses are a sampling of various “people groups” from across the nation and the globe. The nations have literally come to your back door!
Those of us who have been on short-term mission trips are used to the “assignment” when we go. In fact, one of the reasons “mission trips” are so successful is the clear focus on the assignment of going and telling others about the gospel. On such trips one has a clear task. If all of us are really full-time missionaries, why don’t we think in such clear terms daily?
Vocational missionaries use the language of “people groups” to describe unique pockets of culture they are trying to infiltrate with the gospel. Who are your people groups and what are you trying to do to reach them? In college my people groups where my coworkers at The Coffeehouse, my hallmates in the dorm, and my colleagues in the classroom. In seminary my people groups where my coworkers, the regulars at the dog park, and my neighbors in the apartment complex. Now, my people groups are the teenagers of North Suffolk, the employees of the places I frequently visit (i.e., barber, barista, grocery store clerk), and my neighbors.
Who are your people groups?
What are you doing to reach them with the gospel?