What is the goal of missions? John Piper famously said in Let the Nations Be Glad that missions exists because worship does not. I’ve always liked the idea, but only recently did I come to more fully appreciate his message.
Let’s first consider the world we live in. We live in a fast-paced media-driven society. There is such a frenetic drive to connectivity that even as adults we often need accountability for our screen time. Most information comes to us in brief soundbites.
We see a similar urgency and pace in the missions context. Slogans like Oswald J. Smith’s, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once,” are common in missions history. But, we have to carefully consider these slogans before they become our practice.
Integrity is about faithfulness to the truth. When we think about integrity in the context of missions, we need to consider the ultimate goal so that we can remain faithful to that end. I am encouraged by much of the faithful gospel-centered mission work being done today, but I am also concerned that some of our efforts are falling short.
Piper’s famous statement above emphasizes that the goal of missions is for God to be glorified. We must remain faithful to this goal. Oswald J. Smith’s slogan highlights the need to reach the unreached, but that is not our ultimate charge from the Great Commission.
The Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) has one task for Jesus’s followers: make disciples. Making disciples implicitly requires discipleship. Too often, though, make disciple is equated to getting conversions, without the cost of long-term, time-consuming discipleship.
We cannot be distracted from this goal. We must maintain our integrity in missions.
It’s not easy! We see people who are in need of the hope of the gospel. We can offer the hope of the gospel and see the lost accept the message of hope—but what happens after that? Who is there to promote the worship of the one true God? Just like in our own communities, we need the church to exist and to be strong for new believers.
We can maintain our integrity to the mission we are called to in the Great Commission when we are part of the encouraging of the local church wherever we are. Do the slow plodding work of discipleship personally and corporately as the church. We might not be able to get headlines on social media, but we will find joy in seeing people grow in their faith.
Discipleship is a core concern in the various efforts of Reaching and Teaching missionaries. They are actively cultivating relationships to invest in the lives of church leaders and pastors so that many churches will be able to receive faithful preaching and teaching as well as pastoral care. You can partner with our missionaries by praying for them, sending teams, and partnering with them financially.