God has a plan for the world. It’s a very good plan to redeem us and the creation from the deadly effects of sin. The storyline of the Bible moves from God’s creation to Adam’s fall to Christ’s redemption and ultimately the new heavens and new earth. This is very good news.
God also has a plan for your life. It’s a very good plan of redemption from the deadly effects of sin for everyone who repents and trusts in Jesus. This is very good news too!
Those of us who have experienced God’s redeeming grace and who have been rescued from the deadly effects of sin now naturally want others to experience the same thing. God has always been concerned about all the peoples of this world (see Genesis 12:1-3 for evidence) and His church is essentially a missionary people. Jesus’ great commission to make disciples of all nations (see Matthew 28:18-20) is the mission of His church.
But how do Christians find their place in God’s plan for the world? This is the question of the missionary call, and Dr. David Sills has served Christians well in writing The Missionary Call: Finding Your Place in God’s Plan for the World.
What is the missionary call? Sills graciously teaches that no two calls are exactly alike, and at the same time also clearly teaches that “The missionary call includes an awareness of the needs of a lost world, the commands of Christ, a concern for the lost, a radical commitment to God, your church’s affirmation, blessing and commissioning, a passionate desire, the Spirit’s gifting, and an indescribable yearning that motivates beyond all understanding.” (p.30)
Sills believes that “God has called every Christian to the task of international missions.” So do I. “Some of us are senders and some are goers. Neither is more important than the other. Neither is possible without the other. The lost cannot be born again without the gospel, and missionaries cannot go preach unless we send them. We all have a role to play in international missions. That means we all have a missionary call of some sort. What’s yours?” (p.30) Can you answer that question? I think I can, but I could use help from others to double-check and refine my answer. I hope that you and I might discuss these things together and I think Sills book can be a real help to make our discussions much more encouraging and fruitful.
I enjoyed chapter 4 on Historical Understandings of the Missionary Call the most. And as a pastor of a church that keeps itself small by sending significant numbers of our members away for missions and ministry, I anticipate using this book often to help others think through the many practical questions of a missionary call (“How can I know God’s Will?, Is there a Biblical Basis for a Missionary Call?, How Specific Does the Call Have to Be?, What about timing?, What Should I Do If My Spouse Does Not Feel Called?, Getting to the Field, etc.”)
Evanston Baptist Church has been a missionary-sending church since we first started gathering for worship in the fall of 2000. I pray that continues and increases. I believe that my wife and I have been called to participate in international missions by staying here, building up this church, and leading God’s people here to minister the gospel to everyone here, including the thousands of internationals who have moved to our city and learned our language. In 2015, we have sent more than 20% of our covenant membership to serve other churches, to prepare at seminary, and to go on mission internationally. As Dr. Sills rightly says, “When friends, children, parents, or church staff members announce that God has stirred their hearts for the nations and called them to some mission field, the God-honoring response is not rending of garments, but celebration. Just as we praise him when He miraculously answers prayers to heal, save or deliver, we should praise Him when He answers our prayers to send out workers – even when He calls them from our own homes.” (p.201) Amen. Lord of the Harvest, we believe you when you say that the fields are white for harvest and we pray again that you would send our workers into your harvest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Missionary Call: Finding Your Place in God’s Plan for the World, by M. David Sills, Moody Publishers (Chicago, IL), 2008, 246 pages.