Two thousand years ago, Christ delivered the marching orders for the local church: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). With nearly seven billion people in the world, separated by political, cultural, and linguistic boundaries, this is a staggering mission.
How can we accomplish this Great Commission? Is there a technique or element of technology we can use to boost our success stats? What should be our strategy?
Long before modern technology was available, churches of the first century were successfully fulfilling their mission. The church in Antioch was the first to send foreign missionaries, and their model provides a biblical philosophy for missions—a strategy for our victory. Acts 13:1–4 describes the first missionary ordination and send-off:
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
The Context of Missions
Notice these first missionaries were specifically sent by the local church. They were part of this congregation, and they were faithfully serving in the church. When church leaders recognized the Holy Spirit’s call on Paul and Barnabas’ lives, the church ordained these men to carry the Gospel to other places.
As Paul and Barnabas traveled, their purpose was to plant churches along the way. The context of missions started with the local church, and its goal was to plant more local churches.
Christ has given the sacred task of evangelizing the world to His church. He never asks the world to do His work. So if the local church won’t do it, it won’t get done.
The Calling of Missionaries
What does it mean when someone is “called to be a missionary”? Many Christians never know because they are never in the position to hear the call! Paul and Barnabas were called “as they ministered to the Lord and fasted.” These men were already active in sacrificial service.
Unfortunately, the modern church has become so self-centered that she sees few called to missions. Missions is not for cowards, sluggards, or the weak. It requires labor, sacrifice, and death to self.
Charles Spurgeon wrote, “If there be any one point in which the Christian church ought to keep its fervor at a white heat, it is concerning missions. If there be anything about which we cannot tolerate lukewarmness, it is in the matter of sending the Gospel to a dying world.” Perhaps more churches would see their own called to the mission field if we heeded Spurgeon’s advice.
Notice that the Holy Spirit chose to call men from a church that was already actively involved in God’s work. They were evangelizing, teaching, and proclaiming God’s Word. They were fasting and praying as they ministered. In short, they were doing what normal Christianity should be doing daily.
God calls missionaries from churches that are already doing in their home country what needs to be duplicated on the field. And men who are already engaged in the work of such a church are those who hear the call.
In part two of this article, we will see one more aspect of God’s mission’s strategy for victory.