You Don’t Need Money To Be a Missionary – part 3

We must begin to analyze the New Testament as though every word were precise instructions for discipling the world. It is our handbook for missions, and it works. Every bit of it is valid today. Jesus knew that his methods would stand the test of time. They were designed that way. Our problem is that we have added to them. We continue to add to, modify, and correct models that are far removed from their original form. But we cannot expect that doing this will help us finish the great commission. We must look to Christ’s teachings exactly as they are. His teachings are our missionary handbook.

and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.

(NIV Luke 9:2-3)

Jesus knows what he is doing, but when it comes to missions, we act as though we don’t believe it. We are wrong, and we need to believe him. Jesus knew what he was doing when he designed the plan. Everything he taught was calculated and purposefully worded in a way that could be handed down for many centuries. The simplicity of Jesus’s teachings is what has gotten Christianity to where it is today. It is our fault that his teaching has been changed, and because of this, the Gospel has not spread into the remote peoples. It is not Jesus’s fault the world is still unreached. In most cases, it is not the missionary candidates’ fault either. Much of the fault lies with individuals who propagate their own teachings. These old paradigms align with the traditions and missiology of church leaders, agencies, and training intuitions. They hold on to these old doctrines of men for no good reason. They hold on to them out of pride or an unwillingness to change. They are proud of their elaborate mission sending structures even though they aren’t making the progress that such a large structure could potentially make. They are so far from reality that they have even lost sight of the goal: to make disciples in every ethnic group. These structures may have once had more fruit than they do now, but they have since diminished.

However, one thing is for sure: those models did not work to the extent of finishing the great commission. They were defective then and remain defective today. These institutions are training willing candidates in faulty missiology. We will not fulfill the great commission without radical changes. Radical missionaries are needed! Thousands of young enthusiastic missionary candidates have been preparing to go when they fall into these institutions. Once inside, the modern teaching which has complicated the missionary task ruins these candidates. These teachings have continued to divide the Christian movement to the point of rendering it ineffective. The Christian movement will not let go of the old traditional missionary models. Those who are constantly redefining those old models will also remain ineffective. Some Western missiologists are now turning to a simpler approach. They must be learning this from emerging mission movements. They surely are not looking at the New Testament for answers. They continue to mix the old with the new. I see very little in the modern mission sending structure that resembles the lifestyle of Jesus. So many precautionary procedures have been added to missionary sending that it is almost as though God doesn’t exist.

The missionary movement in Africa has been referred to as “A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep.” Who is to blame for this? The missionary movement in Latin America has been referred to as “The Sleeping Giant.” Who is to blame for this? The missionary movement in Asia has been referred to as “Immature.” Who is to blame for this? Jesus surely isn’t to blame. We surely don’t lack his teaching. We all have a New Testament available in our language. If you don’t have a New Testament available, who is to blame for that? It is somewhat irrelevant at this juncture to point fingers. But now that Western missiology has been taken to all these other areas of the world, those areas have tested it and it doesn’t work. They are now developing their own missiology and guess what? It’s simple. For whatever reasons, Christian people have added extra teaching to Christ’s complicating it and watering it down. We need to remove these extra teachings. The only way to do it is by taking action. We need to totally get rid of them. They are no good, they haven’t worked, and they will never work.

You can refine the current methods and redefine them all you want. They will still not work. Jesus kept things quite simple because this was the only way to accomplish the goal. He mostly chose men and women who were not well-educated and did not have financial wealth. Education and money will always complicate a simple thing. Those men and women changed the known world because they did not change the methods of Christ. We need to pay special attention to who Jesus chose to disciple the world. Those men and women fit the profile of good missionaries. Even the modern profile of a good missionary has been twisted by our missiology. I was recently teaching a course to ten people, most of whom were field missionaries with several years of experience. All of them, without exception, were not well-educated, nor did they have the traditional financial backing that we say missionaries need. They did, however, have many testimonies of how God has provided for them over the years in remote unreached people groups with little or no help from their sending agency or church. The best missionary candidates are usually not well-educated and do not have much backing from their churches or sending agencies. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart; they are merely uneducated. They will do mission work in remote areas with or without the church or their agency or a fancy education. We have sent our missionary candidates through years of seminary education, while the enemy has fortified his strongholds. Once, I heard a famous preacher talking about his Christian university, saying that the greatest enemy of their institution was their own intellect.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

(NIV Matthew 11:25 Also see Luke 10:21)

If you are a potential missionary candidate who is eager to go into all the world, but you don’t have the money for an expensive missiology or theology degree, don’t worry. Read your New Testament over and over. The men who wrote the theology books got all their knowledge from reading their Bible over and over. If you don’t have hundreds of committed supporters backing you, don’t worry about it. Jesus did not expect those who would be going to the ends of the earth would have all these things. He expected them to love him, to be obedient, and to have the ability to grow in their faith in him. They are required to work hard, be humble and take instructions. If you have these qualities, you are a missionary candidate to remote unreached people groups.

The Calling of the First Disciples and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

(NIV Matthew 4:22)

You must leave your boats. You will also have to leave your parents. This is what Jesus expects of his missionary candidates. Analyze the New Testament as though every part is your guide to being a missionary. They left their nets behind, which were their tools to make a living with. Whatever it was that they saw in Jesus, it was so important that they left their nets. They did not bundle them up and take them to their houses to put into storage. They heard Jesus tell them that they had purpose and much work to do. They were not afraid of work. They apparently did not think twice about job security. They left their nets on the ground. They just dropped them and left their boats and their father, who did not respond to Jesus’s instructions. The father was not a candidate as his sons were. They obviously were not going to go back to being fishermen. They no longer needed their nets. Someone else would come along and use them. Had they bundled them up and taken them to their homes, no one else would have had use of them. Jesus chose people who were simple and who could leave it all behind and who could follow instructions. The New Testament is our handbook, and Jesus is alive and well and willing to teach you. Are you willing to learn? Do you have ears to hear? Some will read this book and stick it on a shelf or throw it in the trash. Others will take it to heart and dig into their New Testaments. Then they will follow their missionary convection to obey Christ by going.

The Rich Young Man – 16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.

(NRSV Matthew 19:16-29 Also see Mark 10:17-30 and Luke 18:18-30)

These verses are for the twenty-first century. Jesus was then and is now asking young men and women to follow him and to learn a new thing called, “being fishers of men.” He requires a change of carrier. Once you have the training, you are sent out into all nations (ethnos) to disciple them. Discipling them means spending enough time with them to teach them who Christ is and about Christ’s purpose so that they too begin to bear fruit and disciple others. Evangelism is fast and easy. Discipleship is slow and difficult. One of my missionary mentors taught me that winning souls without discipleship is spiritual abortion. Bringing a baby into the world to leave them un-discipled is not the way Jesus taught us. You must disciple people, and this takes time. When we evangelize without discipleship, we only produce adult Christians that still cannot dress, eat, or walk on their own after ten years. Real disciples make other disciples. They bear fruit. They do all the basics and teach others to do them as well.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

(NIV John 15:5-10)

You, the missionary, are to go into the most remote parts of the world making disciples. This does require some training, but not necessarily by the agencies, training centers, or seminaries. It requires training by Jesus from the New Testament and the Holy Spirit. Once, I asked a missionary from India about training. He told me “Read the New Testament all that you can now because the day will come when you are on the mission field and don’t have as much time.” I am also telling you in this book, get to know Jesus. Do it by reading the New Testament Gospels over and over and over again and by asking him to reveal himself to you. This is the best missionary training you can get.

All Christians should spend hours in their New Testaments, especially the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gospels should be the only books new Christians read for the first three or four years. I have often wondered if this is what made the difference in my life. I spent four to six hours a day in the Gospels during my first years as a new Christian. I then began to spend more time in Paul’s letters and found that I started to become more like Paul than Jesus. If you want to be a missionary of Christ, you need to be like Christ. It is not a bad thing to be like Paul, but we are taking a saving Messiah to the world, not the apostle Paul. It is ok to get to know Paul, but only after knowing Jesus thoroughly. How do you know when you are more like Paul than Jesus? Number one: people don’t like you as much. Number two: you are legalistic to some degree. Legalism, in Christian theology, is a term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigor, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God, or emphasizing the letter of law at the expense of the spirit. I am not saying that Paul was legalistic, only that you will be if you read more Paul than you read Jesus.

If you want to be a missionary to remote unreached peoples, you had better be transformed. You will need to be transformed, because you will be like the disciples, having no money and no education. Having knowledge of the New Testament is one thing; being transformed by Jesus is another. It doesn’t mean you are perfect, just that you are not living in daily unrepentant sin. If you are transformed by Christ living in you, you will bear good fruit and you will be making disciples, not just converts.

A Tree and Its Fruit – The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” 16 Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17 Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18 Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him. 19 “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?

(NRSV John 7:15-23)

Are you thorny? Are you sad? Do you have a little grey cloud following you around? Is everything a drama? Then get the fruit of the Holy Spirit, get to know Jesus and his teaching, and then go. The early Christians didn’t have years and years of knowing Christ before they were discipling others. There is no limit to how deep you can know Jesus, but get deep by going, not by staying. If you wait until you are deep before you go, you will never be deep enough. One of the most common excuses for never going to the mission field is “I am not mature enough.” People who say that they need to be a better Christian before they go will never go. They really don’t have the conviction to obey the great commission. They are deceived by the devil thinking that they are not worthy to be missionaries, or they have deceived themselves because they really don’t want to leave it all behind. The truth is that no one is worthy. They are allowing themselves to be deceived because they care more about their own personal desires than they do about Christ and the lost. Our worthiness comes through Christ’s death and resurrection, not by anything we do or by the Christian books we read.

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

(NIV 1 Corinthians 6:11)

All self-searching is a trap of the devil to keep Christians from finishing the great commission. Our salvation AND sanctification rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross and in his resurrection, and all this is through faith in him. If you have asked Christ to take over your life, repented from sin, asked for forgiveness, and are walking in a new direction, you are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. You are on the path to becoming one who will take Jesus into dark places, where there is no access to light. Now, about the money issue: you don’t need it.