Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of going on many mission trips and leading many mission teams.  Whenever I have prepared a team for a mission trip, I have constantly reminded them of an important fact: Christian sightseeing is not missions!

Let me explain.  I think over the years, we have watered down missions so much that we classify doing anything that is overseas or with people of a different race or socioeconomic status as missions.  If you want to take a Christian vacation, go on one of those Christian cruises (don’t get me started…), but don’t go on missions to accomplish a vacation for yourself.

If you look at many job descriptions of mission trips these days, you will unfortunately see watered down job requests that ask Christians to do simple tasks in order that there is minimal exposure to the gospel.  It has gotten better in recent years, but the descriptions are still very basic.  Rarely do I see job descriptions that say, “Come and bring your church’s best evangelists to share the gospel.”  It is pass out this, pray for that, play with this, build a this, love on that – but apparently, many mission organizations hold it extreme to share the gospel.

Immunizations and Clarification

It was confirmed to me one day when I went to get my immunizations for a trip.

As I met with the wonderful doctor concerning my trip, he was very complimentary of our church’s impact in the community.  Once I told him where we were going, he asked: “So, are you going to do construction?”

“No,” I replied.  “We’re going to preach the gospel.”

“So, you are doing medical clinics when you get there?”

“No, sir.  We are going to preach the gospel.”

“Well, are you planning any type of events for children?”

“No, sir.  It’s the gospel.  We are going to walk into places where the name of Jesus has yet to be named and preach that blessed good news.”

It’s the Gospel

That’s it.  That’s why we are going – it’s the gospel!  There is nothing wrong with helping people in this way, that’s great to do provide assistance.  Jesus did meet physical needs, but he also used them as a way to address spiritual needs.

If you have a cold and cancer at the same time, focus on treating cancer first.

In missions, don’t get caught up in so many good needs that you lose sight of the greatest need.

I think sometimes many churches and organizations get caught up in traveling the world in the name of Jesus rather than fulfilling the Great Commission.  It’s all about the gospel.  And if it is not all about the gospel, I don’t think you can call it missions.

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”  (Acts 13:47)

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.