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Evangelical Christians believe that when Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations," he was giving a command to all Christians in all times. His command literally involves going to other languages, lands, and cultures. This work is often referred to as "missions." Baptists, in particular, have had a great concern for missions for the majority of our history. However, there can be a lot of confusion about what all missions entail and the best way to go about it and support it. With that in mind, I've found the short book "Missions" by Andy Johnson to be quite a helpful resource. Here are 20 quotes from the book that really stuck out to me.


We have been commanded to make disciples, and that command will most naturally and consistently play out right where we live, in the context of our immediate surroundings. Every church member ought to ask, “With the unique gifts God has given me and the Spirit of God who lives in me, how can I make disciples today right where I live?" (David Platt in the Foreward)


It is good to do other good things, and our churches may make different decisions about engaging in good works and social action. But it is the stewardship of the gospel that remains utterly unique to the Christian church. We must keep first things first. That is the priority of Christian missions.


The church was God's idea. It is his one and only organizational plan for world missions. Most of all, it is his beloved Son's beloved, blood-bought bride. Consequently, any humanly invented organizations that assist in missions must remember that they are the brides-maids, not the bride.


Where people see the work of Christ as supremely valuable, missions becomes a glorious and sensible sacrifice. The glory of the gospel—not the neediness of mankind—is the self-sustaining fuel for global missions.


[missions is] evangelism that takes the gospel across ethnic, linguistic, and geographic boundaries, that gathers churches, and teaches them to obey everything Jesus commended. Frankly, to do otherwise risks rendering the term "missions" largely useless. As Stephen Neill famously said of this new redefinition of missions, "If everything is mission, then nothing is mission." 


[a missionary is] someone identified and sent out by local churches to make the gospel known and to gather, serve, and strengthen local churches across ethnic, linguistic, or geographic divides. 


Scripture is clear that a desire to support the spread of the gospel to those who have not heard is a normal part of basic Christian health.


…who better than a local church to assess the character of would-be missionaries? So often missionaries work in contexts without regular daily oversight. Much of what they do is relational, unstructured, and self-initiated. We need to send people who are self-starters yet faithful and willing to submit to authority. 


In my role as a pastor I regularly have members talk to me about a desire for missionary work. They drop by my office looking for help in thinking through their own suitability for missions. They also want advice on preparation and training.


Generally they seem to expect a list of books on missions, special international experiences, and specific instruction on cross-cultural gospel work. What I actually tell them is almost always a disappointment. I lean in, as if I'm going to tell them something extraordinary, and say, "Try to be an especially faithful and fruitful member of this local church." Then I lean back, to let them digest the full profundity of my wisdom.

After a minute, I explain further. Yes, there are a few areas unique to missions that we might discuss, but not many. Most importantly I tell them to work at being church members who open up their homes and lives to other people. To get to know people who are different from them in age, ethnicity, or background. To find, and not just respond to, gospel opportunities. To join neighborhood clubs. To come up with a plan to get to know neighbors. To pray regularly for a list of people with whom they hope to share the gospel during the next month, and then do it!


I tell them to be disciplers. Take initiative to reach out to people and deliberately start relationships where the main goal is to help another person grow as a Christian. Look for opportunities to teach the Bible one-to-one or in a small group Bible study. Work to grow in knowledge and skill at explaining biblical truth. Do all this to build the spiritual muscles that God may well use cross-culturally someday.


The core of missions preparation is not missions studies. It is godliness and Bible knowledge and evangelistic zeal and love for Christ's church and a passion to see Christ glorified.


A healthy relationship with a good sending agency can be one of the best places to start in missions. Sadly, however, many churches use parachurch sending organizations in a manner that looks more like abdication than delegation. Praying and sending money is not the only responsibility churches have for the people they send overseas.


The foundation of a congregation's ability to care for its missionaries is regular communication. 


Church leaders should consider setting a regular monthly time when they will call each supported worker. In addition, they, might find another member of the church who is willing to, keep in regular contact with each missionary and occasionally report back to the congregation.


…churches who send and support missionaries should be willing to invest valuable time and resources simply to "see how they are." Visits to love them, listen to them, and encourage them through the Bible and prayer may, accomplish more than you would imagine. Missionaries need pastoral encouragement and reminders from God's Word, When we value them enough to invest our time in order to do, just that, the impact may echo through countless years and innumerable lives.


it's worth noting that not all short-term teams are a help. Sending people at the wrong time or with the wrong skills, or just sending the wrong kind of people, will not help your long-term workers. The best way to make sure short-term work is genuinely helpful is to send teams that your overseas workers request. 


That work of evangelism should aim to establish local churches. That's what we see throughout the Bible. Granted, there is no Bible verse that says, "Go and plant churches." But we know that all Christians should gather into local churches, "not neglecting to meet together" (Heb. 10:25). And everywhere the missionaries in the book of Acts saw a harvest of souls, a church was soon gathered (Acts 14:1-23; 18:8; 19; 20). The goal of missions is to gather churches that plant other churches.


It can be exciting to send and support workers who. are pushing back the boundary of darkness in a community. unreached by the gospel. But Paul also demonstrates that it is worth investing some of our best people in church strengthening where the gospel is already known and churches already exist.


…as you vet workers, keep in mind the balance of their time and your level of financial support. This may sound carnal, but you can't give a missionary a few hundred dollars a year and expect him or her to spend a lot of time answering your personal inquiries.


…we should prioritize efforts that center on the local church, either through church planting or church strengthening.


Put simply, as you consider establishing a long-term partnership with a missionary, whether one you send or one you adopt, among the first questions you should ask is "Do I really trust this person?" Does he hold to theology about the gospel and the nature and work of the church that you can wholeheartedly support? Does he demonstrate and have a reputation for good judgment and integrity? If he lived in your town, would you want him to be a leader or an elder in your church?


It also should come as no surprise that a healthy church partnership generally presumes that the congregation, not just a few leaders, actually owns the partnership, When the average, church member understands something of the focus and direction of the church's partnership, then the ground is laid for a fruitful relationship.


I had quite a few other things I underlined in the book. If you're interested, I'd encourage you to check it out. To get a copy of the book for yourself go to 9Marks or wtsbooks.