What are the concept and the goals of Christian missions?
Christian missions is an intentional effort to lead others to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. The word "mission" comes from the word "to send," and most Christians who are involved in full-time missions are sent to another location. All missions include the idea of leaving the comfort of the fellowship of other believers to engage with those who do not know Christ. This may be across town or on the other side of the globe.
Christian missions began with Jesus' Great Commission, wherein He told the disciples "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18–20). A disciple is a person who learns from and strives to emulate another. Christian missions entails teaching others the truth about Jesus, showing them their need for Jesus, and, once the Holy Spirit has drawn them, encouraging them to live according to Jesus' teachings. Baptism does not save, but it is a public demonstration that a new believer has left the old life and joined the church. We must not only follow Jesus, we must be identified culturally as one who follows Him.
Missions was always to be a part of the Christian life. In some ways, the first Christian missionary could be said to be John the Baptist, who proclaimed to people their need of Jesus (John 1:26–31). Shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples helped lead three thousand Jews to a saving faith in Him (Acts 2). Christianity then spread to Ethiopia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, India, Italy, Tunisia, and France. By AD 197, North Africa was covered, and a year later, the first missionaries arrived in Japan. Christian missions continues in a variety of ways today, including people physically leaving their cultures to share the good news of Jesus—sometimes for shorter periods and often making the new culture their new home, building relationships and investing in making disciples—and even in people sharing about Him online.
The way in which Christian missions spreads the gospel is different for every culture, even though the message is the same. To some degree, the method must be specific to the hearers. Different degrees of education, sophistication, and familiarity with Christian concepts will influence how the gospel can be shared.
But the core message is the same. God is perfect and holy. We cannot please Him because of our sin. We deserve death and eternal separation from God. We need someone who can earn forgiveness for us. That person is Jesus—the second person of the triune God who took on human flesh and is forever fully God and fully man—who lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose back to life proving He is who He claims and that His sacrifice was sufficient atonement. If we entrust ourselves to Jesus, He will reconcile us to God and give us His indwelling Holy Spirit who transforms us; we will spend eternity in paradise with Him (John 3:16–18; 2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Ephesians 1:3–14).
Every Christian is called to missions in their own lives. Jesus charges all of us to reach others with His message. It is not easy, but as we learn to love people like God does, we find sharing the truth about God essential to the Christian life.
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