December 18, 2017

Missions is a Task, Not a Trip or Trivia

Pearson Johnson

As we continue to pray for the needs of the unevangelized in the world, I want to take a break from considering the people blocks of the 10/40 Window and challenge you to evaluate the results of knowing about these gospel-starved regions. One of our Fundamental Baptist brothers, Randy Wilkins, on deputation to reach the unevangelized in Spain’s Basque region, included in a recent prayer letter the following challenge from William Carey:

Some attempts are still made, but they are inconsiderable in comparison with what might be done if the whole body of Christians entered heartily into the spirit of the divine command on this subject [missions]. Some think little of it, others are unacquainted with the state of the world, and others love their wealth better than the souls of their fellow creatures. . . . We must not be contented with praying without exerting ourselves in the use of means for the obtaining of those things we pray for.

One of the trends seen by demographers concerning the rising generation is that we are consumed with being in process but do very little to produce. Many of you in the Builder generation can see this trend. You recognized opportunities and worked hard to accomplish goals. You built America into what it is today, and you founded many pioneering mission structures around the world. You saw missions and work as task-related. You exerted yourselves “in the use of means for the obtaining of those things [you] prayed for,” in Carey’s words.

To continue with the building picture, the following generations—Boomers, Busters, and Bridgers—have tended to sit in the buildings provided by the Builder generation and to enjoy talking about events outside the show window. We discuss how needy and spiritually deficient the people are, all while sipping our lattes. We enjoy doing short-term trips to mission churches around the globe. There is a lot of talk about what needs to be done, a lot of theorizing on how to do things, and a lot of triumph felt when a missions experience is had. When it comes to actually accomplishing the task at hand—the long-term commitment to founding churches that will disciple believers—we remain noncommittal, keeping all of our options open. To the up-and-coming Fundamental generation, missions, by and large, remains trivia to talk about, trips to experience, but not a task to accomplish.

The challenge of Carey more than a century ago has obviously made an impact on the Wilkins family. They have moved from the stage of thinking and praying about missions to acting to meet the need of the harvest field. They are truly exemplary in their determination to fulfill the task of the Great Commission.

But what about the rest of us? Does talking about unreached people groups pique our interest? Does it only increase our knowledge base? Perhaps it takes us down the right path and spurs us to pray for laborers and for a gospel witness. Maybe it encourages us to take a mission trip. However, since there are goals to accomplish in order to fulfill the Great Commission, the trivia and trips must lead to tasks being accomplished. One of the tasks is praying. This praying must lead to the sending out and going of families— families whom we love and whom we will sorely miss. It will include encouraging your youth to pray for, prepare for, and go to the field. Who are the missionaries around you that could go to accomplish the task? Could it be your family? It will certainly take a task accomplishing mind-set from within our churches to reach the nations with the gospel.

Coca-Cola had the goal of putting a Coke in the hand of every person on the earth by the year 2000. They had a task to accomplish, and they did it. If they can put such a priority on that task for the purpose of refreshment, certainly we can give ourselves and our energies for the souls of men and women.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January / February 2004. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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