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What does redefining the word MISSIONARY actually produce? Part 1

You are now entering your mission field!

Have you ever seen a sign like that above the exit doors on the inside of the foyer of a church?

Or maybe out on the church property right next to the exit driveway so that everyone pulling out of the church parking lot can see it?

I’ve seen them at a number of different churches that I have either visited or taught in over the years.

And even though many of the newer churches that are being started by younger people don’t actually put up those kinds of signs, the mindset that is expressed by those signs is also being imparted to the members of those newer churches.


It’s a mindset that goes something like this:

Every follower of Jesus is “on mission” with God and they have the responsibility to share their faith with their neighbors, workmates, and any one else they come in contact with.  Since this is what missionaries do, every Christian should see and refer to themselves and every other believer as a missionary.  If they do, they might finally be motivated to begin doing what they haven’t been doing.

I get why they do it.

And I agree that the bible teaches that every believer is a new creations in Christ and that each and every one of them are His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:17-20).  I also agree that each Christian has a message that has been given to them that they are commanded to pass on to others who have not been reconciled to God in Jesus as they have.

Clearly, every believer should take seriously the reality that they are salt and light, (Matt 5:13-16), and should view themselves as being on a mission from God right where they live on a day- in, day-out basis.


But if the word missionary, (which has historically been used to refer to a distinct group of people within the larger body of Christ), is used to describe every Christian, then how should those that have traditionally been viewed as missionaries be described?

Is a distinct word even necessary?

Many of those who have embraced the every-Christian-is-a-missionary mindset would say that there is no need to have a special title or word for those people that used to be referred to as missionaries.

Which then makes it an easy step to the logical outworking of that mindset–that the respect, regard, and attention that the distinct group of people formerly referred to as missionaries, received from the larger body of Christ is no longer necessary.


Whether intentionally or inadvertently, when the leaders of churches broaden the definition of a word that historically described a small group of people that have received and obeyed a distinct call that required an out of the ordinary level of sacrifice in most areas of their lives, something larger than a redefinition of a word actually takes place.

Although a few Christians may actually begin to live out their faith with more passion and purpose because they now view themselves as missionaries, a number of negative consequences are produced–including a diminished interest in caring for their fellow believers that were formerly referred to as missionaries.









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