Missions vs. Mission


(picture taken from RedwoodPark.org)

I’ve been struggling for the past couple of years about how to make missions more than just an aside in the life of the kids I minister to. This past Saturday, I posted up some thoughts about teaching kids about missions vs. helping them to live out mission on Twitter. Here they are:

  • What would it look like to move beyond teaching children about missions to helping children live out mission?
  • Teaching missions compartmentalizes faith and action, whereas living out mission gives rise to an holistic view of faith and action.
  • Teaching missions is about bringing beauty and light “over there.” Living mission is about seeing beauty and light everywhere and revealing it.
  • When we teach about missions, it becomes something only some do. When we live out mission, it’s something we are all a part of.
  • Missions is something “extra” or “added” or “separate” from what we teach kids weekly. Mission is part of our lives locally and globally.

I’m all for missions, I just think we need a better perspective.

What are your thoughts? Do you teach missions to your kids? How do you do it? Do you tie missions into mission? Am I making a mountain of a mole hill?

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4 thoughts on “Missions vs. Mission

  1. Kenny says:

    Okay, so I have an opinion.

    I think it’s super important to teach kids to be on mission. I think that they need to recognize that the great commission in the original translation doesn’t say “therefor go” but “as you go.” I wrote about that here: http://www.childrensministryonline.com/inspiration/things-i-didnt-know-about-the-great-commission-part-1/

    I think that when we throw international missions into the whole serving pot and kids only thinking of africa or asia when they think of “mission” is wrong. We do a giant disservice. However, I think it’s equally wrong and silly to minimize teaching on global missions in order to extra emphasize the practical of being on mission.

    Here is where my super strong opinions come out. Christians SUCK when it comes to reaching the world for Christ. (That was my opinion peaking there). There are still more than 1 billion people on the earth who have not even heard of the name of Jesus Christ yet. Totally unreached. However, the Christian workers who are diligently giving their lives toward helping the totally unreached hear the gospel for the first time are under-resourced, under publicized and under-funded. Of all money given to global missions, less than 3% goes to the most unreached initiatives. Where does the other 97% go? To the reached nations that have had a gospel presence for hundreds of years. I’m all for building orphanages in South America and feeding kids in East Africa. Really, I am. And I know that we live in a world that isn’t fair. But I have a real problem when some people get chance after chance after chance after chance to respond to the Bible and we fund millions of dollars into efforts that are having successes (but among people who have heard and will continue to hear with or without some of these efforts) when there are more than a billion people who will live and die without getting any chances at all.

    I think it’s Christianity’s dirty little secret. If people knew, maybe more people would do something about it. So… all this to say… no, let’s not teach global missions less? Freakin’ teach it more… teach about the unreached who live in the areas of the world where workers are the fewest with hopes that maybe some of the kids we lead will one day take the message of the gospel there. As far as living on mission, yeah, teach it too… but never at the expense of the 1 billion God entrusted us to reach that we’re still failing to do anything significant about.

    How was that for opinion. 🙂

    • henryjz says:

      Kenny, I love your passion! I agree that we need to teach more about what is going on all over the world and the need to support those who are out there serving and being Jesus, especially to those areas of the world that have never heard of Jesus. I think we need to be challenging kids and adults to give, pray and go.

      The reason for my post is not to set up a dichotomy between “mission” and “missions.” I don’t think mission is something you teach; it’s a way of life, a philosophy, ethos, DNA… I think the reason why missions, especially to unreached areas, is underfunded is because we have failed to integrate what happens in “over there” with what happens in our comfortable world. Mission is about participating in “Thy Kingdom come… on Earth as it is in Heaven.” It’s about living and acting locally and globally.

      What we’ve done with missions is turn it into something “extra.” Something that is added on to what we normally do… In fact, “we” don’t necessarily do missions. We can give to missions, but only a select few are gifted and called to be missionaries.

      Seeing the world through missional glasses, recognizes that we are all co-laborers bringing about God’s kingdom in this world locally and globally. We teach missions because it’s a part of what we all do. We give to those who are reaching out to world because they are bringing about God’s kingdom in other areas of the world, and that is what we are about. So, I am right there with you, Kenny. We need to be letting kids know about what missionaries are doing all over the world. We need to tell them that there are areas of the world who have never heard about Jesus. We need to encourage them to pray and to give. We need to do all this, not as something extra, though, but as something that is a vital part of who we are because we are all missionaries and we are all on mission.

  2. Kenny says:

    Yeah, I’m with ya. I think that if we do teach kids and families to be on mission and live missional lives, the connection to what workers are doing on missions is a much more natural. A talk on missions isn’t so “extra” or “where did this come from.” Instead, it ties into the missional aspect of “thy kingdom come.” Good stuff!

  3. kidzministryonline says:

    I think it is vitally that we create space and opportunity for our children to exercise and flex their faith in a safe and loving environment, that in turns empowers them with a confidence and knowledge thats allows them to say “I can impact my world for God; locally, nationally and internationally. If we are not making disciples and they are not discipling, then I feel that we have missed the point.
    This is something that I am also being challenged on. I’m delighted to find that I’m not alone and look forward to the future with great anticipation and expectation

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