Tuesday, July 21, 2009
More on the missionary call - LET US DEMYSTIFY IT!
I believe that false notions of the missionary call are a major hindrance to world missions. We need not be zapped, nor do we need to hear the audible voice of God, nor do we need to be struck by some over-powering subjective emotional perception.
WHAT THE MISSIONARY CALL IS NOT:
I have heard descriptions of the missionary call likened to the call of Isaiah or other Old Testament Prophets. This is unhelpful. If you are having visions of God, you do not need to become a missionary, you need a psychiatric evaluation.
Instead, we need (1) a desire for world missions, (2) in agreement with God's Word, and (3) confirmed by the larger Body of Christ. These factors appear essential in any definition of the "Missionary Call."
And PRAISE GOD, these factors are totally non-mystical.
YOU NEED A DESIRE TO GO:
The Apostle Paul himself tells us that if a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good thing. The same applies to missionary work. If a man or woman desires to be a missionary, then this is the first evidence of a possible missionary call. If it persists and it is nurtured and the person perseveres despite difficulties, these are all further evidences.
If you are worried that God will call you into missions even though you don't want to go - DON'T. This isn't going to happen. The road to the field is long and hard, and living on the field is often harder. God is only taking the willing. So, I will pray that he does not work against your will, but, rather, gives you a will that desires to serve in the neediest areas.
YOUR DESIRE MUST BE BIBLICAL:
This desire to take the Gospel to all nations is certainly biblical (Matthew 28).
YOUR DESIRE NEEDS TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE LARGER BODY OF CHRIST:
Now, if the larger body of Christ seconds and confirms your desire, then you have good evidence that what you feel is the missionary call.
This larger body of Christ should be as large as possible. Start with your own home church. They know you best and they know if you have the gifts and the personality attributes that would allow you to go and be effective on the field.
Also, don't disdain the input of the larger body of Christ. Mission organizations are almost always much more knowledgeable than local churches regarding what it takes to thrive cross-culturally, learn a new language, and adapt to foreign environments. This confirmation from the larger Body of Christ best comes first from one's local church and then can be further confirmed by a solid missionary organization. This larger organization will be very familiar with missionary struggles, and procedures (how to obtain visas, etc) and will be an invaluable aid as your local church struggles to send one of its own to the field.
Among Sovereign Grace folks we righfully hold dear the place of the local church, and I also hold dear to the same principle. However, sometimes Sovereign Grace churches get entirely too down on missionary organizations, missionary societies, and the like. We can talk about this in later posts, but for now let this be said: a local church in no way loses its authority if it seeks outside help to accomplish a task.
So there you have it. The Missionary Call is not a Divine Zapping, nor is it a psychotic hallucination. God works through means. And the means of calling a missionary is by the giving of information, which stirs up Godly ambitions and desires in the heart of the hearer, who then ponders whether he or she wants to serve as a missionary. The Bible confirms these desires as good. And, if the larger Body of Christ, starting with one's local church and then preferably including the larger body of Christ as a whole (i.e. missionary agency), confirms that the candidate has traits and skills fitting to the task, then that one should march forward towards service without any more hindering introspection.
Do YOU have a desire to serve?
Posted by TandT at 10:14 AM