The Heart of Missions
Missions, missionaries, and other related terms are derived from the Latin word ‘missi’, which means ‘sent’. The original Greek word translated ‘missi’ is ‘apostellontai’, which means ‘to be sent’. This where we get the word ‘apostle’. From the definition of the word, the closest thing today to an apostle, in the general sense, is a missionary i.e., a follower of Christ who is sent out with the specific mission of proclaiming the gospel. A missionary is an ambassador of Christ to people who have not heard the good news.
A Sending Church is a Healthy Church. The word ‘Christian’ means ‘a little Christ.’ We should be like Him. That is discipleship. The people we raise up should share our mission and vision. They should represent our organization the same way that we do. They should mirror our values and teach others to as well.
Part of the process of discipleship is being committed to developing new leaders. A part of development is allowing people to make mistakes. We learn from mistakes. These new leaders will stumble and fail, and they will grow as a result, but we need to be there for them; helping them to stand up after a fall and carry on; but we also need to wean then from dependence on us. We must be able to gauge when they are ready to take on more responsibility. On the job training is the best way to learn. This is when we learn from watching what someone else does, and then try to do it under his/her supervision, and then do it on our own. To be trained up and then sent out.
The need for missions is greater today than it has ever been. The world needs missionaries. As missionaries we love the church and always try to work with her, wherever possible. The church should send, and the church should receive missionaries. David Livingstone said the mission of the church is missions. Unfortunately, most of the modern church is no longer interested in missions, which makes what we do even more important, but at the same time more difficult.
Missions and discipleship go hand in hand. Discipleship implies teamwork. Fortunately, the churches in Africa and Asia that we work with are very welcoming and therefore our partnerships with them ensure long term relationships are built on mutual trust, love, and respect. It means that the discipleship we start there, continues through the local church.
When we start a work on the mission field, it generally starts with us leading the way for the people we minister to. As time goes on, they grow onto the same level as us and then they take over the responsibilities that we previously held. Our goal is to disciple them into being self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.