Local Versus Global Missions

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Recently, I was asked, why as a church do we not do more local missions.  I must say this question has caused many emotions to run through my head.  The context of this question arose because I and another person from our church just returned from a 16 day trip to India and Thailand.  Also, we have communicated quite a bit about others in our church who will be traveling to Lebanon and Poland this summer in order to help encourage local churches and share the gospel.  I imagine the person who asked this question feels as through all our efforts are going to the global church and very little effort is being spent local.  Below our 6 conclusions I came up with based upon this questions.

  1. We probably need to do a better job communicating ways that we are serving locally.  For example we regularly support the local crisis pregnancy center.  We also are currently gathering backpack supplies so when schools resumes in August we can provide them to families who have financial needs. We also are regularly sending volunteers to help serve at a local soup kitchen. We also encourage our table groups to regularly pray for unbelievers and to serve them and share the gospel with them.
  2. We also could probably improve on encouraging our people to discover new ways that we as a church can serve locally. 
  3. However, we must not be dependent upon the local church to provide every avenue for local ministry. Every single believer is a missionary. Therefore, wherever a believer is, the Spirit is with them so they would share the gospel. Our houses are incredible places of ministry where we can invite co-worker and neighbors into so we can share God’s love with them.  Here in America we have incredible freedom to share the gospel. The unfortunate truth is that so many people are more fearful of man than they are of God and thus they do not evangelize.  
  4. We must realize that in other parts of the world the church does not enjoy the freedoms that we have.  For example, in certain parts of India, China, Laos, and North Korea christians are regularly persecuted. They need believers to come and encourage them to stand firm in the gospel.  
  5. We are also commanded to go into all the world and proclaim the greatness of our God (Psalm 96, Psalm 67, Matt 28). If we don’t go then we would be disobedient. 
  6. We know Jesus will not return until His gospel has gone into all parts of the world (Mark 13:10). If we truly desire for Jesus to return then we must go to the nations. It is out of our love for Jesus and longing to be with Him that run to the nations proclaiming the gospel knowing that He will save all whom He has chosen. 

I find that when Christians are actively sharing the gospel locally they are excited about what God is doing globally. They even want to be more apart of missions in other parts of the world. However, often when Christians are not actively sharing locally they become skeptical of the need to be actively global in missions.

I saw Him and I sought Him, I had Him and I wanted Him

I just finished reading Michael Horner’s book, When Missions Shapes the Mission: You And Your Church Can Reach The World .  This is a great book that emphasizes the Biblical Mandate for the church to go and reach the world with the gospel.  But what was really good about this book, was that after Horner presented the Biblical evidence for missions, he then presented a whole, “how to” section.  I definitely recommend this book for any Christian.

Below are a sampling of quotes that I really enjoyed from the books:

Missions, properly defined is making God’s glory known in all the earth so that in and through Jesus Christ all will be glad and sing for joy in His presence. (4)

Missions is God’s plan for reaching all nations with the good news of Jesus Christ by sending His people to tell them about and show them the gracious, redeeming love of a glorious God. (6).

The motivation force behind the early missions in the church was the presence of the Holy Spirit, and that empowering presence moved the people of God to become vital witnesses for the glory of Jesus Christ. (51).

If our hearts are not held in the grip of a profound love for Jesus Christ and a deep appreciation for the treasure He is, we will not be motivated to continue in our commitment to speak of His glory among the nations for very long. (52).

Before missions takes hold of the church, a consuming desire for Christ and His passions must be shaped in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (57)

If we are not open to be set apart in the way we live, ho will we ever be willing to be sent away to introduce people from every nation to the holiness that is required to see the Lord. (121)

Another quote I enjoyed was from Hudson Taylor’s journal.  Taylor was an Englishman whose love for Christ led him to give up everything,  go to China, and share the gospel.  By his death in 1904 he had established over 205 missions stations all over China.  This is what he wrote when describing why he went to China.

“Well do I remember how in the gladness of my heart I poured out my soul before God. Again and again confessing my grateful love to Him who had done everything for me, who had saved me when I had given up all hope and even desire for salvation, I besought Him to give me some work to do for Him as an outlet for love and gratitude…

Well do I remember as I put myself, my life, my friends my all upon the altar, the deep solemnity that came over my should with the assurance that my offering was accepted.  The presence of God became untenably real and blessed, and I remember… stretching myself on the ground lying there before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy.  For what service I was accepted I knew not, but a deep consciousness that I was not my own took possession of me which never since [has] effaced…

I saw Him and I sought Him, I had Him and I wanted Him.”