Monday, September 14, 2009

Successful missionaries

What is a successful missionary? I think that the answer that pops out is one who has a bunch of salvation decisions and baptisms. Could be one who goes to where there is no church and starts one and it eventually results in having all kinds of programs and maybe a Bible institute, orphanage or any number of ministries.
I think that the command to be faithful would probably be the clearest sign of a successful missionary. But I also think that it is more than that, because I think that you can be faithful in that you are on the mission field, but not necessarily faithful in getting work done. A successful missionary will actively be working towards making disciples. But I think that there are also many stages to this including plowing (working on people who have never even heard of Jesus or are totally against Him), sowing the seed of the Word of God through evangelism, reaping by seeing people saved, and growing or discipling them which is a long process of seeing believers mature in the faith, be leaders in churches and even be Pastors or be sending out missionaries. There are so many aspects to the process of making disciples that limiting the definition of a successful missionary to one who sees lots of decisions is hard to do.
What do you think?


shallowfrozenwater said...

oh, i don't think that success needs to be measured in numbers at all, i'd resist it actually. i'm more interested in making an impact for Christ. if i can move one person one step closer to Christ then i believe that i'm a success.
making disciples has to do with making spiritual decisions more so than the "slam dunk" of the final little prayer that moves someone into the kingdom. i guess i'm more interested in ploughing the fields right now instead of demanding the harvest.

David Carrel said...

I totally agree with you. I think that some people though automatically want to look at the reported numbers in updates and see that as success. It comes natural to do that I think, but faithfulness is what it boils down to in the eyes of God.

islego said...

As a missionary kid that grew up to be a resident missionary and as a short-term missions director now I think a successful missionary is one who puts people ahead of any results, just as Christ did. The way Jesus grew disciples was living with them, being open to them, loving them with their faults, knowing they would fail but showing grace anyway. I don't think it has anything to do with how many or what kind of people, just that you have a heart for people, loving them first and foremost, allowing them to walk with you and grow in the process.

Seda said...
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Seda said...

Seems like the most successful missionary would be the one who most perfectly embodied love.

Islego, Jesus also grew disciples by healing them - that was a major and integral part of his mission. How can you follow his example without ... well, following his example?

The only people he condemned were hypocritical religious officials. Scary thought, huh? ;-)

David Carrel said...

Islego, thanks so much for the thoughts. You are so right! It is so good to hear all your updates on facebook. Keep up the good work!
Seda, I think that there are some good social works that you can do like having a hospital in a place where there is none, like the Niles are doing (the interview after this post). We do some eye glass clinics and then maybe digging wells for people or other social work. But when Jesus healed, he also taught and many times he told people to sin no more. So I think that social work should always go with teaching or proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You are right about the religious officials being condemned and that is because they had missed the point of the law and were trying to be righteous through following the law. The reason the law was there was to show our need for God and a Savior who is Jesus Christ.
Thanks for your thoughts, as always!

shallowfrozenwater said...

it sounds silly but i'd like people from all over the world to visit my blog. yeah it's childish but it'd be cool to have my Traffic Map with a little dot in Brazil on it.
if you could. thanks.