What does missions?

What does missions?

No, that’s not a typo. Typically, if we were beginning an academic study on missions, we might focus on a definition, beginning with the question “what is missions?” We could (and I have in various forums and lectures) go back to study the word missions/missiō which would take us back to the word apostle/apóstolos which would bring us to the modern English sense of “one who is sent.”

Many enterprises can better be described by what they accomplish rather than what they are. To put it another way, it is better to describe something by it’s doing rather than just being. Looking at missions from this angle, let’s look at a description by Ralph D. Winter and Bruce A. Koch.

The essential missionary task is to establish a viable indigenous church planting movement that carries the potential to renew whole extended families and transform whole societies.

We could certainly list the many good effects of missions and missionaries, including some of Mandate’s foci, such as community development, medical service, justice, agriculture, fighting human trafficking, teaching English and other specifics. These are all good and necessary.

However, Winter and Koch’s statement seems to best tie missions to the original words of Jesus Christ when He said, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.”

The essential missionary task is to establish a viable indigenous church planting movement that carries the potential to renew whole extended families and transform whole societies.

Let’s break it down . . .

It is essential in that there is a bottom line. When all is said and done, this is what we want to see said and done.

It is viable in that, once started, it can continue to grow on its own.

It is indigenous meaning that it is not seen as foreign within the cultural, social, or geographical framework of the new church(es).

It is a movement in that it is not a one-time event, but a continuing process.

It renews families because the word of God should most often and easily move from one new believer to others within their own family or social group.

It transforms societies because, when individuals, then family/social/geographical groups, give themselves to Christ and adopt His standards, they cannot help but influence the world around them for the good.

The essential missionary task is to establish a viable indigenous church planting movement that carries the potential to renew whole extended families and transform whole societies.