Mobilizing is getting into someone’s head

To mobilize someone for mission (or for anything), we first have to introduce the idea: we have to put it in their heads. “Have you ever thought about being a missionary?” is one simple way to do this.

There are then three possible responses:

(1) I’ve thought about it, and my answer is no, I don’t want to be a missionary. (Because…)

(2) I’ve never thought about that. (And: I wonder if I could be, or I don’t think I could be, which indicates a “lean.”)

(3) I’ve thought about it, and: I want to be OR I think I might like it but I don’t think I could do it.

If you ask someone that question, and they are a definite “no, definitely not,” then is there any benefit to arguing the point with them? You might succeed in the argument, but guilting someone onto the mission field never produces a lasting worker. You might fail in the argument, and have wasted time. Or, you might succeed, but actually dissuade someone from obeying something else God has told them to do.

On the other hand, if you ask someone that question, and their answer is of the “well, but…” variety – they have a number of objections or even simple uncertainties – then it deserves a follow up appointment. “I’d love to talk it over with you. How about we grab a coffee?” or some such.

Some objections or simple uncertainties that people may have:

(1) I like the idea of missions, but I don’t know where I’d go. [One solution: get them a copy of Pray for the World and suggest they pray through it.]

(2) I don’t think I’d make a very good missionary. [Let’s read the book of Jonah, who was probably the very worst missionary ever, and God still used him to save a city.]

(3) I’m not sure I have the skills to be a missionary. [Skills can be taught, what’s important is willingness of character and a passion and love for the people.]

(4) I’m not an extrovert, I’m not a preacher. [Missionaries often aren’t. Many work in the background with local believers to empower local ministries.]

(5) I would love to be a missionary, but I don’t think God has called me. [Calllings are tricky things. We all have the Great Commission, Matthew 28, however. So to go as a missionary without a calling isn’t disobedience.]

(6) I would love to be a missionary but I’ve got a ton of things that require me to stay here right now (debt, family issues, etc.) [Great. It’s good to take care of responsibilities. Would you like to be involved in missions here–maybe we could mobilize some others! Ralph Winter once said it can be more strategic to stay home and send 100 workers than go yourself.]

What other objections have you encountered?

Quantity of workers is a vanity metric

There are a huge number of peoples and places that are unengaged by the Gospel.

The answer is often cited as “Pray for workers for the harvest.” And this is right – we should pray this prayer. We are commanded to (Luke 9).

However, the idea that sending “enough workers” to take in the harvest can be a mistake. “Enough workers” is often measured as, for example, “1 worker for every church” or “1 team for every people” or “1 team for every place” or some such.

The reality is, the number of workers we can send is limited by (1) the pool of workers and the available money but also (2) by the fact that some places we can’t send workers to.

There are some places within the unreached world that we simply can’t get workers to.

We’ve heard Brother Andrew’s famous quote: “There’s no country you can get into if you don’t care about getting out.” (Or maybe this was Greg Livingstone? It’s passed into missions lore.)

In a sense, it’s true. But methodologically it’s flawed. Some places you, as an expat, cannot physically get to – you will be stopped on your way there. Some places are so dangerous that you will likely be killed. The point isn’t getting the worker in, like a game of “capture the flag.” The point is getting the Gospel there on a sustainable basis. If the worker cannot stay (or go in multiple times, perhaps), it’s pointless. Any ant can get into a house. But as soon as he’s seen, he may very well be squished.

Further, if we were to flood a lot of expatriate workers into the 10/40 Window, what would be the result? People would notice. It’s not just white Westerners, either; Koreans got in trouble with mission efforts in Afghanistan, such that governments got involved.

The answer isn’t the number of workers we send – that’s a “vanity metric,” something we measure for pride.

The answer is to send “enough workers” with a workable strategy that starts a Gospel movement in one place, and from that place seeps (via local workers) into the places the outsiders can’t get to.