I got a call the other day from a well known national ministry. They found the number for Adventures in Life in the telephone book and assumed we were a church.
As such, they were calling to ask me, as a supposed youth pastor, if I was interested in my students participating in a mission trip in Las Vegas.
A few years back I was working with a denominational group that was putting together a missions conference for their local congregations. One of their goals was to celebrate what God was doing as the members of these local churches served God in their neighborhoods.
As I talk with pastors and leaders about missions, I constantly hear about a renewed focus on local mission opportunities.
These experiences have got me to thinking. Is it possible that the church, in our rush to embrace the term missional, has defined all of what we do as mission so that we feel better about ourselves?
Think about it like this. If youth pastors are missionaries, if sharing Jesus with the barista at Starbucks is mission, if giving socks to homeless people is missions work, then what isn’t mission?
It is as if we have decided to define all that the church does as mission, so that we can look at ourselves and conclude we are doing a good job missionally. We have changed the descriptions enough so that no matter how little, or how much, the church does, we look heroic.
So here is what I am wondering. How much does this new thinking impact the church and her involvement in cross-cultural international mission? Is it possible that we are raising an entire generation of people who see no need to leave our shores and involve themselves in the work of God “over there?”
Could it be that with these new definitions of mission and being missional locally, we are robbing the church of some of the very people who 50 years ago might have gone “to the ends of the earth?”
I am not sure what the answers are to all of this, but I just can’t stop thinking about it.
What are your thoughts?