Today over two million Americans go on short-term mission trips. Out of the two million, sixty-five percent of those participants are traveling internationally for missions. Over a million people every year go outside the US to serve another people group in the name of Christ. The short-term-mission movement began in the 1960s and grew dramatically through the 1980s and 1990s, but was the growth a good thing?
Oftentimes, short-term mission trips are free of distractions of home. A brief pause is put on life—obligations and responsibilities are put on hold, and all that is required of you is intense focus on the mission.
Being on mission in our own homes and communities, or even at our own cubicles, proves to be more of a challenge. We can pause our lives for missions overseas for a week, but we tend to pause missions at home for our lives on a daily basis.
Christ did not pause His mission on earth for his daily life. His daily life was his mission. We could make our lives and our mission interchangeable terms, too. Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The word go, in the Greek, literally translates ‘as you are going.’ The Great Commission to share the gospel should be woven into our current and daily “going,” not only set aside for a trip with a church group.
Where are you going?
Think about the Great Commission like this: “As you are going to the office, as you are going to the store, as you are going to visit family, as you live the life God placed you in, make disciples of all nations.”
In Deuteronomy we read of what it looks like for the Lord’s love to be mixed in with all aspects of our daily lives: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:5–8).
His love drives us to action. Augustine of Hippo wrote in his seminal work Confessions: “My weight is my love, and by it I am carried wheresoever I am carried.”
We go because Christ told us to and his love compels us to. He showed us by doing it himself when he came down to earth for us. We tell the greatest love story of all time wherever we find ourselves, because we were beggars who found bread, and we want to tell other beggars where they, too, can find bread (Luke 8:39, John 6). Man does not eat bread alone, but often physical bread is the appetizer for the main course: the bread of life.
Consider these numbers. Less than twenty percent of Americans regularly attend church. In 2014, it was discovered that 36.1 million Americans consider themselves nonreligious.
But there are others who need the church to be the church. 564,708 people experience homelessness on any given night in the United States. Every nine seconds someone is assaulted or beaten in the United States. In the US 45.3 million people live below the poverty line,—a number that has increased by eight million since 2008.
Our location may change, the difficulty may vary, but the mission does not. Regardless of where you are, Jesus still says go.
The good news is he does not call us to something he will not equip us for (Heb. 13:21.) As Christians, we cannot fall into the trap that we go out on mission trips and then come back and it’s over. In the checkout line, around the water cooler, with our children, outside a Starbucks—we are on a mission trip 365 days a year.
This living on a daily mission implies that we are daily walking with God and have a fresh testimony to share at any given moment. Second Timothy 4:2 says to “be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
The fact that two million Christians are actively sharing the gospel overseas each year should greatly encourage us. The gospel is going out to all the ends of the earth, and God is using his people to do it. We are on mission while also being changed by the mission. God calls you to them but changes you through them. Now let us take that zeal for overseas missions and bring it to our own homes. Christ calls us to all nations, including our own.
The same Jesus you experienced on your mission trip is the same powerful, compassionate Jesus at work here in America (Heb. 13:8.) Will you continue the mission?