I just left a conference for “missionaries” from around the world. As you can imagine many of the conversations and presentations focused on the “mission” and “mission field” of the “missionaries”.
While I liked these people and the work they do, I found myself bothered by the use of some of their language.
If I were running the world, or even the Christian sub-culture, I would ban the word “missionary”. (And while doing that, I’d also ban the expression “full-time ministry”.) If we are all disciples and as such all expected to join Jesus in the God’s Kingdom work, then every Christian is a “missionary” and involved in “full-time ministry” – not just the ones who do their ministry overseas or within the church, but also the ones who build houses, who teach children, who work in labs, and who sell sandwiches, etc.
If we are following Jesus then we are on mission. All we do is an opportunity to see and be part of God’s work in the world (and in us!) Everyplace is a “mission field” as there is no place where God is not at work (John 5:17). Of course, I don’t imagine many of my colleagues at the missionary conference would disagree theologically yet they continue to use language that doesn’t mesh with their theology. How often do I, and my colleagues in ministry do the very same thing without even noticing the disconnect? The expression “missional church” also strikes me as funny. We don’t say “edible pizza” or “electronic computer”, so why do we like to say “missional church” so much? Alas, since I’m not running the world, nor Christian sub-culture, I’ll let someone else can get on their soapbox about that one.
Kim is a trainer, coach and leadership consultant with Church Resource Ministry in Melbourne, Australia. She is an ordained pastor, ICF certified coach, and has an MDiv and DMin from Fuller Seminary. Her passions include travel, getting a good deal, running, and helping leaders multiply their impact by reproducing more effective leaders.
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