Many clergy members’ cars have “missionary” stickers on them, church buses have the inscription “missionary,” and churches have missions department and missions team. But these mission buses are used to transport worshippers from one metropolitan area to another in the same city. And many pastors with missionary stickers on their cars have not embarked on any missionary journey, while missions departments plant churches in metropolitan areas of Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
We love to bear the name missionary but we do not want to take the risk that missionaries take. Or is it that we do not know what Christian mission is? Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity to new converts. Missions involve sending individuals and groups, called missionaries, across culture and geographical boundaries to carry on evangelism or other activities, such as educational or hospital work.
From this definition, the scenarios that I described above are not missionary activities. These actions are deceptive and do not allow Christians to understand the full meaning of missions and be adequately involved in it.
Some confuse evangelism with missions, and some churches train missionaries who go to the street where the churches are located to bring members, including other Christians to their churches. This is an error! Evangelism is the act of preaching the Gospel; it is derived from the Greek word “evangelion“. Target persons could be friends, neighbors or family members and the target area can be anywhere.
Mission is derived from the Latin word “missio,” which means to send out like a missile. Target persons are those who do not have access to the Gospel and the target area is where there is no church. Usually it involves crossing culture and geographical areas. A clear understanding of these will help us to know what we are doing and how we are supposed to do it.
There is another error that I identified in the mission fields in Northern Nigeria. The error that I identified is that the churches planted in major cities in northern Nigeria are attended by southern Christians who are in the north for business, school, career and other livelihood activities. I held a conference in one of the capital cities in Northern Nigeria and I asked the pastors present at the meeting to tell me how many of their members are indigenes of the town, and nobody was able to mention even a name. This is an error!
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