A professor used to talk about the "fog factor" in communications. He multiplied the average number of words in a sentence by the average number of letters in the words to get the "Fog Index." The idea behind the Fog Index is that if you want people to read and understand what you wrote, it needs to be clear and simple. Someone once said, "When there's a mist in the pulpit, there's a fog in the pew." If people are to understand and support missions as a critical function of the church, we need to be clear about some things that have become foggy.
1. We need to be clear about the goal of missions.
For many of us the primary goal or aim of missions has gradually become dim. In a Christianity Today article on short term missions, the author mentioned that Christian young people have great compassion for the physical, social, and justice issues of people. Unfortunately many are theologically confused about the need for a gospel transformation of the heart by Jesus. What is it that missions is supposed to accomplish?
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:9-10 shows us a picture of people from every tongue, tribe, language and people worshipping the lamb. As we plan our missions ministry, this is our guiding principle, that it is primarily about God and not man. The end goal of missions is gathering the worshippers that John saw in Revelation, because the Lamb deserves the worship of everyone.
2. We need to be clear about the scope of missions.
Missions used to be reaching the pagans overseas, and church ministry was building up the church at home. The distinctions may never be this clear again because the world is too complex. But we must somehow draw boundaries between missions and church ministry. Missions is what we send people and resources to do because the congregation can't do it while church ministry is what we as individuals and the church can and should do as part of our life and ministry among people we can reach.
3. We need to be clear about the priorities of missions.
Many things may be included in missions but not everything is of equal value, importance, or urgency. Our planning must indicate what fields, tasks, projects, and activities we consider of greatest strategic importance. Usually this is most effectively done with budgets and budget goals and with public prayers, reports, and celebrations.
When these things are clear in the minds of our church leaders and our people, we may expect the kind of support and involvement that missions deserves.
Do you wonder where your church stands with regards to the three critical concerns? We have an assessment tool that can help! Click HERE to download our Missionary Assessment Tool for your church.