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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

A Perspective on Missions

David Pitman

From The Baptist Challenge, March 2014

On the outset I wish to admit that the conclusions I am about to state are emphatically, and perhaps uniquely, my own. However, I obviously believe that they are conclusions based upon biblical concepts. I would also admit that my exposure and experiences are rather limited, perhaps my perspective is out of focus.

Nevertheless, here are my thoughts. I read recently that 90% of the world’s Christian workers minister to less than 6% of the world’s population. I have no way of verifying the absolute accuracy of those figures, but I will assume they are approximate. There would be some explanations of course.

1. A great portion of the world’s population lives in areas where the gospel is greatly hindered, though not entirely absent (almost one-half of the world’s population lives in three nations — China, India, and Russia — where there are the least number of Christians.)

2. Included in most totals of “Christianity” are Roman Catholics (565 million), Eastern Orthodox (92 million) and Protestants (324 million). The Catholic Church (both Roman and Eastern) preaches false doctrine; a considerable portion of Protestants (Baptists are not Protestants) do not preach the true gospel of God’s grace. So that 90% is diluted rather quickly, both in numbers and effectiveness.

3. There are probably less than 100,000 Baptist churches in the U.S. Optimistic figures place the total membership at about 28 million.

4. We do need more Baptist Bible-believing, Bible-practicing, churches in the United States.

5. We need not be ashamed to invest money and ministers in reaching America with the gospel. The more sound churches there are, the more mission dollars there will be; and more importantly, the more missionaries there will be.

6. I am for missions, both foreign and home, but whining missionaries with a martyr complex (a minority I am sure) weary me. A man is no more noble for serving God in Africa than for serving God in America. Is he where God called him to be? Wonderful! So am I.

7. I believe our mission bureaucracies have done more harm than good (but I do not deny that good has been done). They tend to weaken the link between the missionary and his sending church. They tend to confuse the average church member as to where the real responsibility for the missionary rests — it rests in the ordaining, sponsoring church. Other churches may cooperate and assist, but the responsibility is the sending church’s responsibility.

8. Mission agencies are unnecessary. There is not a single thing that a mission agency can provide for a missionary that a sending church cannot provide — and I have heard all the arguments. I do not believe that the New Testament plan of missions requires any formal bureaucracy; rather I think the intrinsic nature of a New Testament church precludes it.

9. We do not need regional representatives and field directors overseas any more than we need them here at home. That’s incipient papalism, and I am stunned that more men do not recognize it as such.

10. I believe that the total missionary enterprise (of real biblical evangelism) would expand mightily if principles such as these were taught, understood and practiced in our local churches.