Is a Missional Church Not for Missions?
Over at the Gospel Coalition blog an article was written entitle Why the Missional Church Isn’t Enough. Here is the opening paragraph:
The missional church in the United States is not missional enough. The local focus of mission is shortsighted. If we only make disciples who make disciples in our cities, thousands of unengaged, un-discipled peoples of the earth will not hear the gospel. To be sure, many ethnic groups are migrating to cities, which brings some of the nations right into the neighborhood. However, there remain many ethnic groups that do not migrate to Western cities. Western churches must send missionaries, not only across the street, but also across the world.
As I read it, re-read it, and re-re-re-read it I found myself agreeing with so many secondary points but frustrated because they do not support the primary premise, that missional churches are not seeking the making of disciples of Jesus in unreached places. I say this, thinking of this very video played at our Easter service and my comments after it played connecting the unreached people of this world and the glory of the resurrection. As I commented on the blog itself, his arguments and assumptions could be flipped over on themselves to make the assertion that missions-minded churches are not enough for they are so busy looking overseas that they fail to see the neighbor mowing his lawn.
As a pastor of a church seeking to be missional I think of a church excited as I went overseas to Athens to help set up theological training through Training Leaders International. We did not work with the Greeks, but with the many ethnic groups. Many of them from difficult nations to enter as missionaries, and many of the pastors were looking to return to their lands. What a glorious vision to equip these men with sound theology and then send them off! We have in our Community Groups people tasked to keeping the vision of missions alive before the eyes and hearts of each person there. Not merely local, but also not merely to the unreached peoples.
I am sure the author of the blog post would acknowledge all of this, but that is the point, he didn’t and as a result inadvertently lumped a lot of men and churches I know who have a passion for the lost both near and far with those who can’t seem to see past their neighbor’s fence. Missions-work is not an either/or proposition. If asked to decide which I would choose to push, local or foreign missions, I would refuse to answer for that is not the mission my Lord sent me with. It was to go into all the nations to make disciples of Jesus, and that requires take my first step in my own neighborhood and town and to keep walking until it is in foreign nations as well.