I grew up in two Southern Baptist Churches, and to my recollection, neither one was particularly active in missions. Sure, the churches encouraged families to give to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings, the pastor delivered an occasional sermon on the Great Commission, and the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) welcomed all the ladies to participate in their monthly gatherings. However, the churches did not create a culture which equipped, empowered, and encouraged members to participate in missions. Sadly, church members could faithfully attend and serve in these churches for decades without ever engaging in making disciples cross-culturally.
Ironically, when churches neglect missions, they deny their very identity as God’s people. As Michael Goheen argues, “God’s people are a so that people; they are chosen so that they might know God’s salvation and then invite all nations into it.” The church is “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness and into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9; emphasis added). Missions is not just something the church does but a part of who we are. To call ourselves the church and then ignore our mission is an oxymoron. Therefore, since God called pastors to oversee his people, pastors must keep their church focused on mission.