Within our circles some seem to think so, others think not. Without (and the position of the onlooker at times has merit), opinion falls in the negative column. Our critics have struck sorely and with regularity on this point: time and again we are accused of gross laxity, of feeble effort, and others. The list is long.
To be sure the mission efforts of any church is a very serious matter. Of course if a congregation maintains she has a living place in the universal church of Christ Jesus she must also have evident marks thereof. Of several, a chief mark is the preaching of the Word; and then, as it is proclaimed both at home and abroad, or within and without the church. The latter applies directly to missions: a witness without and about! We should always maintain, and rightfully, that of the many commands in the holy scriptures, the commonly called “mission mandate” ranks supreme. Do you remember what our Lord said that day? “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. And there are definite reasons for its prominence! Chiefly here again through the preaching of the Word, the church of Jesus Christ is gathered, and that by the Son of God Himself through His Spirit. “If we don’t do it others will,” said a prominent pastor as he spake to a large Reformed congregation and many others as they listened to his sermon broadcast on local radio stations. He emphasized that God would surely gather His people and that none would be lost or left, only this God does through missions. And I agree.
In reality it was the mission mandate of Christ that launched the still ever-rolling tide of gospel ministry as it rolls for the ends of the earth. And thereby God’s people are being gathered!
Is it going out from us?
So weighty a matter is this question that we as churches, officially and privately, individually and collectively, should be applying rigid self-examination about every aspect of our missions at all times. Is this being done? It would be beneficial for our young people, even now already but especially later when they occupy an active and leading role in the church, to continuously self-examine their faithfulness in this most holy task. Lethargy here is disastrous.
No! we cannot be accused of being utterly without mission interest. We have organizations that prove the opposite; we can cite facts to the contrary. We have a mission board, a mission field, a mission program and a missionary. We have a radio ministry which of late has reached new realms. But lest we boast too loudly let me caution you: these don’t always mean everything. For example, a mission board could very well be defunct, a mission field could be a poor selection and a mission program wholly unworkable. To boast of mission machinery to my mind is simply idle, it must be there of course, but what is more important is mission action. What are we doing? And, is what we have, working for us: is our mission machinery out on the field These are the questions, and if we answer them honestly, only then conclusion can be arrived at re our mission mindedness.
Obviously many factors have both in the past and present retarded and restrained our mission endeavors. At present, I suppose the lack of funds and the dearth of ministers could be factors cited. But I feel these are, by and large, only excuses. Can we forever come with these? If it is not scarcities then it is vacancies. I ask, is faithfulness to this calling to arise and decline by these standards? I am sure Christ does not want us to govern our mission zeal by the number of problems in our denomination. A good mission program has its place right along side of many problems in the church: whether that be a crisis or vacancies.
The past has proved us unfaithful. If I recall correctly it was our synod of 1952 which approved the calling of five missionaries. Then the split came. But since that day no effort in the least was made to even call one additional missionary! And mind you, it is simply not true that vacancies and scarcities prevented us from doing much during all this time. For a number of these past years nearly all of our congregations enjoyed the services of a pastor, while be times candidates waited for a call.
But this is not all. Other factors indicate a definite lack of zeal. Aside from a small letter written by our missionary which appears only from time to time in one of our church papers, there is no other column in these magazines devoted to culturing and nurturing interest in this worthy cause. Besides, none of our churches enjoys a mission festival which is really a Reformed heritage. Then too, we take mission offerings, but to other causes we give our dollars while the mission offering gets our dimes.
All in all it seems we have long since buried a hearty zeal for missions in the sea of effortlessness. Except in the way of radio ministry we have not gone forward.
This radio ministry is interesting, it needs a compliment. There is a radio committee doing things most people do not know are necessary in order that it might be. And with some cooperation, advance is made in this field: new stations are added and also an introductory program is being compiled. One wonders just how this aspect of missions should be evaluated? Assuredly it is not a substitute for the missionary and his field, by no means, in fact it is only a supplement. And even then, radio ministry has its weaknesses. For example, it does not often result in the establishing of churches; it does not collect believers of like faith in any visible form. It answers no personal questions and solves no practical perplexities. It is only a witness, but let me emphasize a highly effective and efficient one. The real value of a radio ministry can never be accurately estimated, so priceless is this God-given means.
In conclusion: it is the mission field with its missionary that needs our full attention and support. Whether churches are established or not, the Word of God must be sent abroad. His Word never returns unto Him void. Let’s be busy! Time has been wasted and spiritual muscles have never seen action. In the way of faithfulness our God will bless us.