Many professing Christians treat the matter of missions like an elective in the school of Christ—like something they may either support or ignore according to personal inclination.

Interestingly enough, missionary societies in local churches unwittingly may have encouraged this attitude. Although designed to foster missionary interest within the entire congregation, the existence and nature of these groups may have suggested, at least to some people, that missions are a kind of extra curricular activity for certain but not all believers.

We thank God for those who have worked to promote missions through such societies. We dare not relegate the church’s missionary responsibility wholly to them, however. All believers must awaken to the fact that missions are not optional, that missionary interest both nourishes and reveals the pulse and heartbeat of the church. Apart from a consuming sense of mission the church has no reason to exist. Although needed and invaluable, the work of missionary organizations ought only augment and not replace or substitute for the obligations of the entire congregation.

The Missionary Imperative

It is significant that the Scriptures propound no specific argument for missions. Nowhere does the Bible suggest merely the advisability of sharing the Christian mission. Instead we find precise commands: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …” (Matt. 28:19); “… that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations …” (Luke 24:47); “… you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Each instance employs an imperative mood. In Matthew ...

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