What Does It Mean to Be a Christian Missionary?

Missionary with child
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Churches spend a lot of time talking about mission trips. Sometimes it's about planning a missions trip or supporting missionaries around the world, but it's often assumed that churchgoers understand what missions are and what missionaries do. There is a lot of misunderstanding about missionaries, who is supposed to be a missionary, and what missions entail. Missions have a long history dating back to the early writings in the Bible.

Evangelism is a huge part of missions. The purpose of missions is to bring the Gospel to others around the world. Missionaries are called to reach out to the nations, just as Paul reached out. However, the evangelism of missions means more than just standing on a soapbox preaching the Gospel to anyone walking by. Missionary evangelism comes in numerous forms and is done in a variety of places.

Isaiah and Paul Were Notable Missionaries From the Bible

Two most notable missionaries of the Bible were Isaiah and Paul. Isaiah was more than willing to be sent out. He had a heart for missions. Often churches give the impression that we all should be out doing missions, but sometimes it's not so. Missionaries have a calling to evangelize around the world. Some of us are called to stay where we are to evangelize to those around us. We should not feel pressured to go on mission trips, but instead, we should search our hearts for God's calling on our lives. Paul was called to travel to the nations and make disciples of gentiles. While we are all expected to preach the Gospel, not everyone is called to go far from home to do it, nor is every missionary called to do missions permanently. Some are called to short-term missions.

What Happens If You Are Called?

So, let's say you are called to missions, what does that mean? There are numerous types of missions. Some Christian missionaries are called to preach and plant churches. They travel the world creating disciples and building churches in areas where Christian education is lacking. Others are sent to use their skills to teach children in underdeveloped countries, or some are even called to teach in needier areas of their own countries. Some Christian missionaries show God by doing things that aren't seen as overly religious but do more to show God's love in tangible ways (e.g. providing medical care to those in need, teaching English as a second language, or providing emergency services after a natural disaster).

There is no right or wrong way to be a missionary. As seen in the Bible, missionaries and evangelists are used by God in God's own way. He designed us all to be unique, so what we are called to do is unique. If you feel called to missions, it's important that we examine our hearts for how God wants us to work, not necessarily how those around us are working. For instance, you may be called to missions in Europe while your friends may be called to Africa. Follow what God tells you because that's what He designed you to do.

Recognizing God's Plan

Missions take a lot of examination of your heart. Missions are not always the easiest job, and in some cases are very dangerous. In some cases, God may tell you that you're called to be a Christian missionary, but it may not be until you're older. Being a missionary means having a servant's heart, so it may take time for you to develop the skills to complete the work of God. It also means having an open heart, because sometimes God will have you develop close relationships, and then you will one day have to move on to God's next task for you. Sometimes the work is finite.

No matter what, God has plans for you. Maybe it's missionary work, maybe it's administration or worship closer to home. Missionaries do a lot of good work around the world, and they try to not only make the world a better place, but a more Godly place. The types of work they do vary greatly, but what links all Christian missionaries is a love of God and a calling to do God's work.

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Mahoney, Kelli. "What Does It Mean to Be a Christian Missionary?" Learn Religions, Sep. 30, 2021, learnreligions.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-christian-missionary-712676. Mahoney, Kelli. (2021, September 30). What Does It Mean to Be a Christian Missionary? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-christian-missionary-712676 Mahoney, Kelli. "What Does It Mean to Be a Christian Missionary?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-christian-missionary-712676 (accessed June 5, 2023).