The Monday Factor: Living on Mission to Reach the Lost

By Joel Southerland

So if 195 million people don’t go to church, and the fastest growing religious group is those who believe in nothing, I think it’s safe to say that we live in a mission field.” – Tim Harlow  

It is incredibly easy for a church to become focused only on what’s going on inside the four walls where they gather.

Gathering on mission can be evangelistic in itself. But, the real mission field lies beyond the four walls.

The real missionary is not the guy behind the pulpit. It’s the doctor, the farmer, the factory worker, the housewife, the student, etc., living a vibrant faith where God has placed them.

Evangelism fervor has been sedated by the false philosophy that God calls only certain of His people to be missionaries.

To make matters worse, this philosophy has relegated the role to an extremely narrow job description: that these select few are only functioning as missionaries if they travel overseas, learn a different language, risk life and limb, and use code in virtually every correspondence with the outside world.

To many in the church, only that is a “missionary.”

But consider these statistics. While 48.92 percent of Kenya is evangelical Christian, 37.01 percent of Uganda is evangelical Christian and 30.84 percent of Nigeria is evangelical Christian, only 10 percent of San Francisco is evangelical Christian.

Chicago? Sixteen percent.

Boston is only 9 percent evangelical Christian.

So you tell me where the greater need for missionaries lies.

Now to be sure, there are some countries with almost no perceptible evangelical Christian population whatsoever and we need to pray for missionaries to be able to get into those countries. There are plenty of international souls that need to hear the gospel.

But there is no question–the need for for everyday missionaries in North America is great.  

Top evangelistic churches build into their DNA the philosophy that every believer is called to be a missionary. They help members to see themselves as being on mission for the gospel.

Living on mission, for them, has become the accepted minimum expectation for their congregants. And they equip them accordingly.

This is important not only because it’s biblical, but because it’s the only way the Church will have any meaningful impact on lostness in our culture with the gospel.  

The lady who goes into the office every day must see herself as a missionary. The guy at the factory must see himself as a missionary. The 16-year-old must see himself as a missionary. The single mom, the businessman, the CEO, the teacher–all missionaries–must see themselves that way.  

We must even help our retired senior citizens know and believe that their primary and priority role in their remaining days on this planet is to be missionaries right where they live.

Here are a few insights from top evangelistic churches:

  • in larger churches over 70 percent of guests come as a result of an invitation from a member
  • over 70 percent provide ongoing leadership development and training to members
  • 79 percent of large churches provide ongoing skills-based development and training to members
  • over 50 percent provide ongoing spiritual gifts development and training to members
  • nearly half of large churches offer evangelism training two-four times per year

This tells us that evangelistically effective churches are making an investment in the lives of their members to help them live on mission from day to day.  

And it’s non-negotiable.

Published May 30, 2018

Joel Southerland

Joel is the Executive Director of Evangelism at the North American Mission Board