For the Sake of the Call to Missions

By Mark Edworthy

As we close out nearly three decades on the mission field and approach an imminent transition back to the United States, I have become more reflective and thoughtful about the process that God used to lead us and sustain us overseas for so many years. That’s why I’ve written this post about for the sake of the call.

I have noticed a recent tendency in the US church to downplay a missionary or cross-cultural call and gifting. I believe that the motive is to highlight every believer’s responsibility to “make disciples of all nations.” And while the sentiment is appreciated, it seems like the rhetoric may be misplaced.

“I have seen hundreds travel to new cultures because they felt a sense of duty but did not stay long because they had no sense of calling.”

Some would say that every disciple is a missionary. I have not found the chapter and verse for such a conclusion. (I have never heard these same pastors declare “every disciple is a pastor.”) The closest I see in Scripture is that every believer is a witness (Acts 1:8). Some are equipped and called to witness in their home culture and others are called to cross linguistic and cultural barriers to share the hope of the gospel, make disciples, establish communities of faith (i.e. churches), and train leaders in other cultures.

Proponents of the universal missionary call for believers may assert that they do not find a chapter and verse for such a calling. I agree with others who conclude that the role of apostleship (small “a”) carries the intention of “sent ones” taking the message of the kingdom beyond current locales and restraints. Passages like Ephesian 4:11-12 illuminate the various roles that Spirit-filled disciples fill and describe apostles as gifts to the church so that it will function fully and vibrantly. These small “a” apostles are called and sent with a message, especially to places where the message has not gone.

For the Sake of the Call: Describing the Call

A mission agency leader recently referred to the “missionary call” as a nebulous, subjective experience with no clear biblical warrant. I found myself trying to describe such a call to someone who has never experienced it. I liken it to describing the taste of a banana to someone who has never eaten one. I was also tempted to conclude that according to such logic, Nepal does not exist simply because I have not been there or experienced it.

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Source: Church Leaders