Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Is Every Christian a Pastor?

The first question on the survey I sent out a couple of weeks ago asked, “Is every Christian a missionary?”  60% of the respondents said “yes.”

To paraphrase Bishop Neil, (“If everything is missions, nothing is missions”) If everybody is a missionary, nobody is a missionary.

I often hear pastors say, usually at a conference of some sort, “missionaries, at our church are our heroes.”  Given the results of the survey every Christian is a hero.

I understand the confusion of the meaning of what is a missionary?  It’s true, every Christian should be a witness for Christ; that we are all called to do the work of an evangelist, that the world is the field and all need to hear the Good News of Christ and His salvation.  But, because definitions matter, what the survey revealed to me was that some people (certainly not all as a good number of respondents gave clear definitions of what a missionary is and what is mission work) really have no comprehensive understanding of the role of a missionary, what he/she does and, in some ways, what the Great Commission is all about.

Clearly, not every Christian is a pastor and most people would agree that to be a pastor is a specific calling with unique gifts.  Why then is it that all Christians are missionaries?  Are those who leave their home country, family, profession, learn a different language and commit their lives as an alien in a foreign country somehow the same as Christians who remain a witness in their own culture?  Is the work of taking the Gospel to those who have never heard equal to helping hurricane victims in Houston or teaching VBS for a week in the Dominican Republic?

Why are definitions important?  Because less than $.01 out of every $1.00 given to Christian ministries goes to the work of reaching most unreached 2 billion people with the Gospel.  If everybody is a missionary, fewer people feel the need to serve as an alien cross-culturally to those who have never heard His Name.  If everybody is a missionary, then missions is just about whatever people want it to be.