Our section on missions in our doctrinal statement reads as follows: “We believe it is the aim, duty, and privilege of every believer and local church fellowship to glorify God by responding as active participants in the Great Commission call of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations. We believe the primary focus and priority of this call is centered on efforts that establish, strengthen, and reproduce biblically-based churches, which will then plant churches that plant churches for future generations and God’s glory (Matthew 28:18-20).”
In view of these convictions, here are twelve principles that shape our understanding of missions, our involvement in missions, and our giving to missions.
1. The power of God is required for missions. All men of every culture are born radically depraved, at enmity with God, and in opposition to His truth. The conversion of a man and the advancement of missions are an absolute impossibility apart from the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration (John 3:1-7, Acts 1:8). Modern church growth strategies and many new missions methodologies often overlook this reality. Our cleverness and our ability to ‘contextualize’ the message are poor substitutes for the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. The Scriptures are sufficient for missions. The Scriptures are the source and standard for our doctrine, ethics, and ministry. In this, we mean that the Scriptures are not only inspired and infallible, but they are also sufficient. They are all that is needed so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In our desire to fulfill the Great Commission, we will employ those means, strategies, and methodologies which are afforded us in the Scriptures. The more we stray from the biblical standard and the more we rely upon our own ingenuity or cleverness, the less we will see of the power of God and the advancement of His Kingdom! It is a contradiction to employ unbiblical means in order to propagate biblical truth. It is equally dangerous to employ means that are not warranted by the Scriptures in order to fulfill the very tasks that the Scriptures assign to us.
3. Prayer is a necessity for missions. The impossible work of missions can be accomplished only through the power and wisdom of God. Therefore, prayer must be at the forefront of all our missionary endeavours. The first stanzas of the Lord’s Prayer prove the necessity of prayer for the advancement of the Great Commission: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). Furthermore, we are to pray for labourers (Matthew 9:37-38), open doors (Colossians 4:3), and clarity and boldness in the proclamation of the gospel (Colossians 4:4; Acts 4:29-30). According to Jesus, it is through prayer that we bear much fruit and so prove to be His disciples (John 15:7-8, 16). All the missionary strategies and zealous activities in the world will not compensate for prayerlessness.
4. The true gospel must be proclaimed in missions. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), and the preaching of the gospel is the great means and methodology of missions. The gospel is, first and foremost, God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). It answers the eternal question—the divine dilemma—of how a just God can rightly justify wicked men (Romans 3:26). It points to Christ alone, who bore the sins of His
people upon the cross (Isaiah 53:6: I Peter 2:24), was accursed and forsaken of God (Galatians 3:13;Matthew 24:46), and was crushed under His just wrath against sin (Isaiah 53:10; Zechariah 13:7). The “good news” of the gospel is that through Christ’s death the justice of God was satisfied and salvation was won for those who believe (John 19:30). This is evidenced by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25).
5. Biblical knowledge is more important than cultural knowledge in missions. The greatest need of all men of every culture is the clear proclamation of the gospel. Men are saved through the gospel and continue in sanctification through continued growth in the full counsel of God’s Word (Romans 1:16; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Although differences in culture are to be considered, it is more important for the missionary to be biblically sensitive than culturally sensitive. A missionary was once asked how he preached the gospel to a certain remote tribe. He declared, “I do not preach the gospel to a remote tribe; I preach the gospel to men!” All men have the same problem (sin), and all men have the same solution to their problem (the Saviour). Therefore, all men need the same gospel.
6. Incarnational ministry is essential in missions. Although there are some effective non-personal means of communicating the gospel (e.g. radio, television, internet, literature), there is no substitute for a man living among a people—teaching the gospel to them and living out his faith before them. God sent His own Son to become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:1, 14; 3:16).
7. Only qualified labourers should be sent to the mission field. Missionaries must be mature Christians in their knowledge of the Scriptures and character. In other words, they should meet the qualifications of an elder as they are set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Some might object to this statement on the grounds that Paul is referring to elders and not missionaries or evangelists. In answer to this objection, we should realize that Paul is first describing a mature Christian and then demanding that elders be mature. It is unwise and dangerous to send anyone to plant a church on the foreign field who is not mature and would not qualify to be an elder in his own church. This also applies to missionary women; although they are not to serve in the office of elder (1 Timothy 2:12), they also are required to be mature in their character and knowledge of the Scriptures. Furthermore, the Scriptures demand that a church and its elders are not to ordain anyone “too hastily” for they “will share responsibility” for his sins and the error that may result from his ministry (1 Timothy 5:22). Much damage has been done to the church and its testimony on the foreign field because elders and churches have not heeded this admonition.
8. Superficial evangelism is one of the great obstacles to missions. Nontheological preaching, entertaining skits, and gospel films are no substitute for the biblical exposition of the gospel and the full counsel of the Scriptures. Inviting men to raise their hands and pray a prayer is no substitute for the biblical call to repentance, faith, and personal discipleship. Biblical assurance of salvation is not founded upon a past decision (that has no impact on the present) or the mere repetition of the “sinner’s prayer,” but upon the reality of ongoing repentance from sin, faith in Jesus Christ, and progressive sanctification.
9. The establishment of biblical churches is the primary work of missions. There are many gifts and callings in the body of Christ, but all of them are to work together on the mission field with the primary goal of establishing biblical churches. It is not enough to evangelize or even disciple individual converts; we are to unite them in local congregations that follow the clear commands of Scripture.
• A biblical church is a body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ, in a specific geographic location, who are of like faith in the Scriptures, committed to one another’s edification, under the teaching and authority of qualified elders and deacons, obedient to the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), practicing church discipline, and evangelizing the world through the preaching of the gospel.
• A biblical church is that which seeks to conform its faith and practice to the Scriptures, especially in the following areas: expository preaching, sound biblical theology, gospel-centrality, evangelism and conversion, membership, church discipline, discipleship, leadership, prayer, and missions.
• A biblical church is the result of costly and arduous labor. On the foreign field, it may take years of a missionary’s life to establish one biblical work. While we recognize the need for the rapid advance of the gospel, we cannot find any biblical methodology for missions other than evangelizing the nations through the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of local churches. This takes time.
• A biblical church is foundational to a self-sustaining, ever-multiplying missions effort. The missionary endeavour is most advanced, not through an ever-increasing number of missions agencies, but through an ever-increasing number of strong local churches that are devoted to the Great Commission.
• A biblical church is the evidence of a genuine work of God. The goal and true litmus test of all our missionary endeavours is the planting of biblical local churches that are training elder-qualified men (2 Timothy 2:2) and sending them out to establish other local churches of like faith and practice. Evangelistic decisions and even baptisms are not accurate measures for determining the effectiveness of a missionary or a ministry.
• A biblical church is the “pillar and support” of the truth. The church is to be the guardian, messenger, and example of truth; and the great and enduring bulwark against error (1 Timothy 3:15). It is also the “salt of the earth” and the only entity that can preserve a nation or people from self-deceit, moral decay, and self-destruction (Matthew 5:13). Therefore, biblical doctrine and practice must prevail over pragmatism and cultural sensitivity. The church exists under the headship of Christ (Ephesians 1:22) and must be governed by His Word. The Scriptures are the inspired and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice for the church (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
10. The autonomy and centrality of the local church are vital in missions. Each local congregation is independent, autonomous, and directly accountable to and under the headship of Jesus Christ. Every missions partnership, therefore, should be one in which each local church is careful to respect, uphold, and affirm the autonomy of every other local church.
11. True missions is costly. Missions is no more and no less than an opportunity to die. We live in a fallen world that is at enmity with God and opposes His truth. Therefore, missions and suffering will go hand in hand. Any advancement of the Kingdom of Christ into the dominion of the devil will be met with warfare. There are many countries and people groups where deprivation, physical suffering, and even martyrdom cannot be avoided.
12. The goal of missions is the glory of God. The salvation of man is not primary in missions. The glory of God is primary in missions. God is committed to His own glory being made manifest through the redemption of a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation who will one day stand around His heavenly throne to give Him the worship that is due His Name (Psalm 67:1-5; Revelation 7:9-12). Getting people saved, therefore, should not be our chief motivation for missions. Bringing God glory should be our chief motivation for missions (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In line with these twelve principles, we encourage you to support HeartCry Missionary Society, which is laser-focused on preaching the Gospel, making disciples, training pastors, and planting churches. Click the link below to visit their website: