Being a missionary vs. being missional

For years we have heard about missionaries in our churches, on special occasions and during events that involved lots of flags from countries all around the globe, different foods and clothes, histories of brave, altruistic and faithful men and women of God, single or married with their families, that in obedience to God’s call left their homes to go to a foreign country. Those histories have inspired us in many ways and helped some to be obedient in their own call in the local church as participants and active members.

It was always clear to us that a missionary is someone that moves from his own place of birth, culture and language to go to another region or country. Being a missionary has been a call to cross frontiers geographically and culturally, to preach the Gospel to the unreached.

Although this concept is so true, challenging and rewarding, it also left some people in their comfort zones with the excuse that they do not have a call to be a missionary.

And this is definitely something that is not in the heart of God—that some be excluded from the privilege of being a blessing to all people.

I like what Ron Boheme says in his book “The Forth Wave – Taking your Place in the New Era of Missions.” He says:

As the Protestant Reformation restored the concept
of the priesthood of all believers The Fourth Wave
will restore the idea that every believer is called to be
missional – to go and make disciples of all nations.

Studies about missions point out to us that the definitions of mission and missionary have shifted away from geography to focusing on reaching all people. This is not because they are arbitrarily changing words, but it is a result of examining the word of God and searching his heart. In Mark 16:15 we read the final words of Jesus before going back to heaven:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (creature).

In another words, what Jesus said was: Go and preach the gospel to every person. To engage in such a task to reach every person, the ones who are close to us and the ones that are far away. This demands a shift in our mentality. Being a missionary, yes, this can be a specific call to some. But being missional is to everyone.

In his book the Fourth Wave, Ron Bohem goes on to say that:

The fourth wave of modern missions will involve people of all ages and nationalities,
reaching everyone in the 
world, using innovative technologies and relational approaches,
in all spheres of life, with every believer being missional.

Being missional means that we understand that the gospel is inclusive, that the grace of God is for all people, in the all world. And that the responsibility to reach all people is for all, too. Being missional means that we all can do something in order to spread the Gospel; using our skills, abilities and profession to reach others close to us; that we can pray and intercede; that we can donate our money to support missionaries and mission projects all around the world; that we can give our time in short term mission outreaches; and that we can have a compassionate heart for the poor in our neighborhood or the refugees that are in our own country.

If you have a call to be a missionary, and are seeking opportunities to serve a short or long time, if it is a temporary experience you are searching for or a call for life, or if you don’t know if this is for you yet, be missional. We have to remember, as a friend of mine says, “to celebrate all obedience.”


Isabel (Brazil) is involved with our Living Word School, coming up this fall. Find out more about the Living Word School here.


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