I believe one of the biggest problems that we have in American Christianity is fixable: require all leaders to do mission trips yearly. I know you might think I am out of my mind but if every sunday school teacher, deacon and pastor did a mission trip every summer; the overall health of the church would improve.
I asked a friend of mine that works at the General Council of the Assemblies of God’s headquarters recently how many pastors have done a mission trip in 2015. He told me that he does not have the statistics but his educational guess would be about 15%. That means more than 8 out 10 are not serious about the Great Commission.
I have found that the most healthy churches are led by leaders who regularly head out of the country to do ministry in a different language and culture. I have seen more pastors transformed on the fields of a crusade than I can count. The Great Commission doesn’t just change the lives around you; it changes you too.
Mission Trips are life altering
I remember when I was on staff at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I met a pastor who told me point blank that he did not believe in mission trips. He only believed in local community. There are alot of pastors like this, they just do not admit it. He believed that we should just focus on helping people in our town or city. People in Souel should reach the people in Souel. The people in Kansas City should reach the people in Kansas City.
I gave him a challenge: go on a mission trip with me to Mozambique where I would be speaking at bush crusade meetings around Pemba with Heidi Baker. I told him he would be more changed by Africa than Africa would be changed by him. He did not believe me and he was not interested in getting his theology completely wrecked by truth.
A week goes by and he calls me asking if he could still go. As God would have it, a man he knew in his church had heard about my offer and he paid for the pastor to go with us to Africa. The pastor was out of excuses and he was being set up by the Holy Spirit to have his theology get “a fixin.”
As the days went by, I could see the change happening. He started to weep over the condition of humanity and see the heart of God for people. His ideas on the local church was slowly being destroyed and replaced with a vision for the global Bride of Christ. He understood that why the Bride is crying Come in Revelation 22 finally.
The greatest joy from the trip was not the thousand new converts but seeing this pastor completely changed by the heart of God. I knew when the pastors was transformed; the church will be changed soon.
A Missional Church is the only biblical Church
I am not quite sure how a church can say they are biblical and not be completely focused on the mission of God. We worship the Father that wishes that none would perish. Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. The Holy Spirit is here to convict the world of sin and lead men to the Cross. The whole trinity is focused on the mission of ripping people of hell.
It is very hard for me to believe that the Church is not to be less committed to the same mission at hand than the trinity. Soul winning is not a yearly event or something we have for the camp meeting with Dr. Big Name from Headquarters USA. The problem is we think evangelism is an event; not a lifestyle. That is wrong.
When we fail to be missional, we fail at the very foundational level of the faith. Nothing is more important that being the salt of the earth and the light of the world around us. Everything else is secondary.
“The Bible is not the basis of missions; missions is the basis of the Bible” — Ralph Winter
Why mission trips don’t happen
The reason reason is we do not care about people going to hell. The money is there. We will waste all type of money on things for the church that does not matter. We will go to silly “advances and retreats”, spending hundreds on them as well. We will throw down the visa to go to a Kansas City Chiefs game with the men at the church. Money is the not the problem; desire is.
We will send fifty bucks to make food for the pot luck dinner every month for the community time. That is over $600 a year wasted on something that will not yield one soul into the Kingdom of God. For just a little more, a mission trip to Mexico to change life is very possible.
At the end of the day, we have to just admit the reason we do little in the way of missions is that we just do not care about people going to hell.