Some of the greatest people I know are missionaries. Not great in the sense of power or influence, and especially not great in terms of how well-known they are. But great in the sense of faithfulness, loving people and serving well.
I know a lot of missionaries and I have the highest respect for them.
The question of What Makes a Good Missionary? is complicated. The missionaries I know are all different. They have different personalities; different abilities; different perspectives; different spiritual gifts; different ideas; different ways of approaching ministry; different interests in ministries; different temperaments – you get the idea. They are as different from each other as the rest of us.
So What Makes a Good Missionary?
Part of the answer is in what they believe and how they put what they believe into practice. That is, it’s in their theology and their practice.
Theologian Ed Stetzer wrote about this in an article with the title Two Grids Every Church Pastor/Planter/Missionary Must Use: Missiological Grid. The essence of his article is that every pastor, church planter and/or missionary needs to view their ministry through a theological grid (what they believe) and a missiological grid (how they put what they believe into practice).
But it was something else he said that grabbed my attention. He wrote: Think like a missionary wherever you are. For a church and church planter to be missional, thinking and acting with a missiological purpose, they have to be living on mission where they are. That means behaving as if they were a missionary, because the reality is that every Christian is just that.
Did you hear that?
That means behaving as if they were a missionary, because the reality is that every Christian is just that.
Every Christian is . . . a missionary.
Every one of us.
We don’t have “missionary” Christians and “non-missionary” Christians. We are ALL missionaries. We are all to be living on mission wherever we are.
That means that each of us needs to view all of life “through a theological grid (what you believe) and a missiological grid (how you put what you believe into practice)”.
That’s not just what makes a good missionary. It’s what makes a good Christian.
And that’s really the issue.
As Christians we need to know what we believe and then we need to live out what we believe in the places God puts us.
Missionaries have no greater responsibility to live out the gospel than the rest of us. Or to put it another way, we have as great a responsibility to live out the gospel as any missionary has.
So let’s start living like missionaries. Right where you are. Right now. Don’t expect things of missionaries that you don’t expect of yourself.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) isn’t the Missionary Commission, it’s the Christian Commission.
You can be the greatest missionary you know by living on mission where you are.
Stay in the Word