What is the Mission of the Church?By
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
(Matthew 28:19-20, ESV).
On Sunday morning, we began an important three sermon series on the mission of the church from Matthew 10. If you missed the first message, you can listen to it here: What is the Mission of the Church? (Matthew 9:35-10:15) In this message I argued, among other things, that while all Christians are called to witness, some are called to go to other cultures where Jesus Christ has not been named and where there is little gospel presence – those called to go and sent by the church are called missionaries.
The harvest is plentiful . . . According to the Joshua Project, there are presently 6,909 unreached people groups in the world. A people group is a particular group of people who share ethnicity and language (ethno-linguistic). Unreached means that less than 2% of a people group are gospel Christians. In our world of 7.13 billion people, 3.96 billion are part of unreached people groups. That means that approximately 56% of the world population is within the unreached category. Additionally, 3,010 people groups are not only unreached, they are also unengaged, meaning that there is no Christian witness among them. The unreached, unengaged total a population of just over 195 million people; that’s roughly two thirds of the population of the United States. Yes! The harvest is plentiful!
But the laborers are few . . . While in 2010 the United States sent out over 127,000 missionaries, the fact is that according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, “the ten countries with the most non-Christians in 2010 were home to 73% of all non-Christians globally. Because many of them deny or restrict missionary access, however, they received only 9% of all international missionaries.” On the flip side, would you like to know what country received the most missionaries in 2012? According to a Christianity Today article, it was “the United States, with 32,400 sent from other nations.” There may seem to be a lot of laborers generally speaking, but where it counts, the laborers truly are few!
Let us ask God for more laborers in strategic places . . . Jesus asked his disciples to pray for more laborers. We should do the same. Let us ask our Father to send more laborers to take the message of king Jesus to places where He has not been named and where there is very little gospel presence. And let us send and support these missionaries with prayer and finances so that they may be free to focus on the mission to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded.
What do missionaries do? To help our thinking as to what missionaries are called to do on the mission field, I want to recommend you read Kevin DeYoung’s great blog post on that subject. You can read it here: The Goal of Missions and the Work of Missionaries. May the Lord grant us much grace and favor as we seek to proclaim Jesus and call all peoples to repent and believe in Him and live a life worthy of this gospel in the midst of local, healthy congregations.