The definition of “missionary” is a person on a mission. If you search images on Google Images, you’ll find lots of pictures of Mormons interestingly. If you look through Christian history, you’ll quickly think of folks like those in this image, people who have gone from their homeland to another’s homeland to share the news of Jesus Christ’s life and death, resurrection, and gift of eternal life in worship of God.
We have all been challenged at some point from some pulpit to live like an indigenous missionary right where God has you. My friends Noah and Katie Jenks are heading to Spain for another missionary effort there, discipling some young people in the Gospel of Christ, teaching them about the Savior as well as how to live lives as indigenous missionaries right where they live. This, in my understanding from my Dad’s years of missionary sending, is the best use of our time over seas, equipping. Miles McMahon, senior pastor at Calvary Chapel, Sonora, is doing this same thing but through training pastors and church planters in Africa. He’s been there for a few weeks now and will be there for a total of four months I believe. So exciting!
What do we as hometown missionaries do here? We live like Miles and Joyce do when they live here. We live like Noah and Katie do when they are here. They are the real them there as well as here. Miles told me one time that being a missionary is another step up as far as “Christian celebrity status” from being a lead pastor. When you lead a church, you get plenty of criticism but there are enough loving and encouraging remarks and friendships that you weather the storms pretty well. When you’re a missionary, you’re the guest speaker and minister again and again. It’s a hugely emotional positive experience. Can we have the same excitement about serving our neighbors here? Do we experience some of the same positive feedback here? Certainly. However, it’s not as frequent, and we don’t experience nearly as much support from our hometown because we’re treating our hometown as a mission field. How insulting right?
No, everyone’s home town is a missions field. We desperately need Americans in particular to turn toward their hometowns with a little better outlook, a little more compassion and a little less of either pride or antagonism. We tend to either rip into our home town or lift it too high. If we are truly living as children of God, called to fulfill the great commissioning of Jesus Christ for His people, we should spring into regular action and find opportunities everywhere we turn to be Hometown Missionaries.
This is my charge for us today:
1) Be less critical and anxious about people in your hometown who are treating your town like a mission field. Don’t be insulted nor relieved. By insulted I mean, don’t think this is below your town to have missionary-like activity and networks between churches beginning to grow and shake things up a bit. It’s exciting to be a part of a missionary-impacted region. Yet, it’s unsettling a bit because you have to admit that your community needs missionary work and WILL ALWAYS NEED IT = )
Don’t be relieved either though. We need all hands on deck. It’s easy to make ministry a professional activity and hire our senior pastor and maybe a few more folks for each local church, start some non-profits here and there for different felt needs, and then sit back and enjoy our lives of numbing the strong pull from Christ through the Spirit deep within us, calling us to step up and step out into our home town mission field! Let’s see all hands on deck, friends. Let’s all engage in this beautiful opportunity.
2) Be prayerful: Any hometown missions effort that increasingly is impactful and evidently of the Lord must be covered in prayer. As we pray, we are depending on God and trusting Him to lead our every conversation, our every interaction, our every act of compassion and friendship.
Grateful for my home town, as I believe God has called my wife and me to be home town missionaries. I believe he has called every believer to be the same.
In His joy and friendship,