What is mission?
At Pioneers we specialise in helping people to share the gospel with those who have least access to it, which involves an element of culture crossing. For most Christians this is commonly understood to be “mission” – the whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.
The word “mission” doesn’t appear in the Bible but the common understanding of mission is “being sent for a purpose”. Jesus is the epitome of what we now understand a “missionary” to be: one sent forth by God for a specific purpose. He proclaimed and demonstrated “The Kingdom of God” and through his death on the cross brought about a power-shift on the earth from the domination of Satan to the restoration of relationship with our loving Father.
If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, your first ‘mission’ is to live according to this new reality, which Jesus called “The Kingdom of God”, and replicate His followers wherever He locates you in whatever unique ways He has enabled you to do it. By virtue of your faith, your co-mission is the same as that of the very first disciples (see Matthew 28:16-20).
Why is God on this mission? Because He alone deserves to be worshipped. As Pastor John Piper has written, “mission exists because worship doesn’t” (Let The Nations Be Glad, 2003).
What is the scope of mission and what could you do?
Jesus assumed his followers would be a pilgrim people and instructed them to make disciples of all nations as they were going. There is a degree to which boundary-crossing is a core part of the disciple-making mission of God. Traditionally those boundaries have been seen as geo-political, but in our post-colonial context we now believe they’re more culturally defined. The scope is as wide as the willingness of God’s people to offer who they are and what they have to him.
What you could do depends on how God has created you. Most often he works through our strengths and experiences but he primarily wants our availability not our abilities. There are always opportunities to serve him, whether it be overseas, crossing boundaries right here in New Zealand, or within your local community.
How do you know if cross-cultural mission is for you?
Like any other major life decision you make, the overseas mission journey begins by finding out more and by exploring options while trusting that God will guide you as you move forward.
Begin by asking God to start guiding you to a particular grouping of people, a type of ministry or possible organisations. Talk and pray with trusted friends. Find a church that has a strong global mission interest. Engage cross-culturally by getting to know international students or your immigrant neighbours, or learn another language.
What happens next?
Become aware of YOU
Think about who you are and reflect on the experiences that have formed you; your personality, Christian experience and spiritual gifting, your family background, the places you have lived and cross cultural exposure, your interests, what “sparks your fire”; your education, training and paid / unpaid work, and skills/desires that you would like to strengthen/fulfill. Compile a personal profile that outlines these. This will enable others to help you to think through what and where you could potentially contribute. Mission is often more about who you are than what you do. God’s call is often revealed through how he has made us.
Get involved in a church fellowship that actively supports God’s purposes in mission. This will give you opportunities to learn more, to pray, to give, to link with those already working in mission, and to talk with people who can guide you in your journey. If you go overseas, you will need the support of a local church, especially with prayer and finance.
Finding a good fit
Contact specific mission agencies to find out what they do and where they work. It’s OK to be talking with more than one at the same time and you need to know that they may charge for their services and that they may turn you down. Talk with your church mission’s coordinator or check out the websites in the resources section (below) to find out where you can find a group that resonates with your values and experience.
Think about your understanding of the gospel message and practical experience in sharing it. Explore these more with others.
Consider doing a ‘Perspectives’ course. This is a 12 lesson introductory study programme that will reveal God’s global plan in the Bible and help you to understand culture and worldview and discover ways you can be more involved in God’s plan for the world. It’s considerably more in depth than the popular Kairos course and it has greater potential to deeply transform the way you look at this world and what is happening in it. Find our more about Perspectives.
Most organisations will recommend some level of Bible College training, preferably with a missions focus. Find out about what would suit you e.g. your denominational college, Carey Theological College, Eastwest College for Intercultural Studies, or Laidlaw (among others).
Keep thinking, talking, reading and praying.
Find out as much as you can. Seek out others who are already committed to this task. Read inspiring books about mission work. Keep laying it before God, allowing his Word to be a lamp to light your path.
Missions Interlink (NZ) connects people with a heart for mission: agencies, churches, church mission committees, mobilisers, training organisations, individuals and couples enabling them to gain mutual benefit and cooperate in joint initiatives. Check out their website.
Mission World is a NZ Baptist initiative which strategically partners with the main mission agencies in NZ. Their website is here.
The Joshua Project is an organisation seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the least followers of Christ. Their website is here.
Operation World is a global prayer guide. Their website is here.
A Life Overseas is a blog collective that provides a place of online connection for Christ-following missionaries and humanitarian aid workers living in foreign countries. The blog can be found here.
Some books we highly recommend include:
- Global missions Handbook by Steve Hoke and Bill Taylor
- Cross Cultural Servanthood by Dwayne Elmer
- When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
- Preach and Heal by Charles Fielding
We’d be thrilled to talk with you further about your mission journey…contact us