I realize that not everyone has a “call” to serve internationally as a missionary, but I do think we must all think as missionaries if we’re going to reach North America. Here are some reasons why:
All evangelism is, in some ways, a cross-cultural experience. As believers, we’re “aliens and strangers”—pilgrims in this world (1 Pet. 2:11). Our worldview is different than the people we’re trying to reach, so we’re moving into a different culture when we connect with nonbelievers.
No longer can we assume that others accept the Bible (if we ever could). It seldom works now simply to say, “Well, the Bible says,” and assume that the other person accepts that authority. Some people around us, in fact, might hear the Bible for the first time from us.
To reach people, we need to know them. Missionaries intentionally leave their “safe” place to go where the lost are. In too many churches, our pattern is just the opposite: We retreat from the world to protect ourselves from their stains. We’ll never reach people we do not know.
Effective evangelism requires our better understanding the worldview of others. I need to know if the person to whom I’m speaking is an atheist…or a pluralist…or an “ist” of some other world religion. Missionaries understand the importance of learning about their people group as they seek to reach them.
Evangelism requires our speaking to people in their language. That’s not to say that we never use biblical terms; it’s simply to say that we have to learn how to speak and explain in ways that nonbelievers understand. That’s the process of “language” learning that missionaries know so well.
God is bringing the nations to us. Just look around. Listen. People from all around the world now live among us. Places of worship of other faiths are dotting our landscape. If God’s bringing people to us, it’s our responsibility to learn about them, get to know them, love them and strive to lead them to Christ. We go to them—like missionaries do—rather than wait for them to come to us.
Our task is overwhelming and impossible. We can’t reach people apart from the power of God. Missionaries know this truth, perhaps because they’re often serving in hard soil. We are, too, so we must pray as fervently to reach North America as missionaries pray to reach their people groups around the world.
What would you add to this conversation?