I am honored to be leading North Side’s short-term summer mission team to West Africa. Our team has begun to gather together weekly for prayer, discipleship, accountability, and preparation. Recently, over lunch, we discussed at length this 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. 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.
It was confirmed to me when I went to get my immunizations for the upcoming trip.
As I met with the wonderful doctor concerning my trip, he was very complimentary of North Side’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.”
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 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 ain’t all about the gospel, I don’t think you can call it missions.