Global missionaries often use the term “mission field” to describe where they have been called by God to take the gospel. Yet there are actually four “mission fields” followers of Jesus are commanded by God to work in. Each of these fields needs reintegrating into both our individual and church lives. The Bible indicates that missions starts with family and moves out to all corners of the earth (John 1:41, Acts 1:8). As 1 Chronicles 16:24 puts it, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among the peoples.”
Mission Field 1: Family
Our first responsibility is to our family. This is particularly so of our own children, whom we need to raise in a knowledge of the Savior. God has instructed parents to be deliberate and persistent in teaching their children about salvation, faith, and character.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:4-9)
Moses tells us that loving God should be our priority. If we are genuine in our love for the Lord as parents, and there is no inkling of hypocrisy, then that is the first step in winning our children for the Lord. Kids hate hypocrisy. When God is in the right place in our lives as parents, things go better. Our marriages are healthier. Our families are stronger. Our faith continues to grow and thrive.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Moses told parents to “impress them [the commands] on your children.” The word ‘impress’ can indicate to brand for life. A farmer will brand their cattle so they know which ones belong to them. God has instructed parents to impress on their children how to love God deeply and completely. From the beginning of the day to its end, we are to share God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. Parents are to impress on their children how to know the ways of God.
Moses teaches us that there are four key times all families can leverage time to build the faith of their children: when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deut. 6:7). It is about creating a daily rhythm of family life centered on a Jesus culture in your home. We have to be intentional in telling children about the ongoing love story between God’s people and Himself. We know our role as parents is to show our children God’s love through our relationship to and with them. Devoting quality time to our children both collectively and individually is critical.
In an age of snacking, eating out, skipping meals and busy households, the practice of families eating meals together is, sadly, disappearing. Where you can, reinstitute this experience and spend time during the meal to listen. Make it a rule that no electronic devices are running during this time. Take time to spend a little quality time with each child.
“It is about creating a daily rhythm of family life centered on a Jesus culture in your home.”
That’s a big ask, given the way we run our lives, but our children are our responsibility—we brought them into the world and we need to make the sacrifices necessary to take an interest in what they are doing. Learn to affirm the good and be strong in identifying the not so good. If you are older, you may remember the saying, “An ounce of praise is worth more than a ton of criticism.”
Great care should be taken in handling decisions made by our children. There is no harm, and indeed only good, in our six-year-old saying they want to be a Christian and our accepting that at face value. However, an essential part of salvation is understanding the enormity of our sins and being genuinely repentant in front of the Lord. No six-year-old is able to grasp that fully, so we need to keep shepherding them sensitively so that, as their understanding matures, they can confirm their trust in Jesus, confess their sin, and be assured of their salvation.
There is concern that decisions made at a very young age and not followed up can lead to a wishy-washy commitment and a genuine question about the actual validity of a person’s faith. We are not the judge of an individual’s position before God, although Jesus said we know His disciples by their fruit (Matt. 7:15-20). Maybe a reason for casual Christians in too many churches is a lack of anything more than “accepting Christ.” No contrition?
“Maybe a reason for casual Christians in too many churches is a lack of anything more than ‘accepting Christ.'”
Mission Field 2: Community
The second area in which we should be involved and active is our community, both in church and in our life outside of church—our neighborhood, work, leisure time and daily contacts. It is easy to stay hidden in our homes, pull up to the driveway, open the garage door, wave to the neighbor, put the door back down, and we are home in our little sanctuary. We should be engaging regularly with our neighbors as we have the privilege of taking the name of Jesus to the lost.
Every day that we go to work has the potential to build deeper relationships with co-workers. When taking the time to build and develop friendships, we have greater opportunities to share about our lives and the impact of Christ in our lives. Living out our faith in the communities we daily find ourselves in isn’t about doing something new, but about doing and being something fuller in Christ.
Mission Field 3: Nation
We need to have a love for our nation. Not many churches have the reach to impact the whole of our nation. Yet there is an important role for churches and evangelical organizations that have nationwide coverage. The postmodern era has undermined the vital role that Christianity plays in building our nation and influencing individuals toward Christ and the salvation He offers. We commend those who have a love for our country and are actively seeking to influence the whole country for Christ. They deserve our support.
Part of our role is to pray that those who have governmental and business leadership roles will come to faith in Christ. Jesus told us that the greatest commandments can be summed up by loving God and loving people. It begins with our neighbors, communities, and nations. We are to respect and pray for those in positions of influence, that through their actions the Kingdom of God may advance in whatever place you call home. Paul wrote to the Romans,
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” (Rom. 13:1)
The authorities that exist have been established by God. We are to respect and obey those in government, as God has instituted these to help protect us.
“We commend those who have a love for our country and are actively seeking to influence the whole country for Christ.”
Mission Field 4: The Wider World
The fourth mission field is often the most ignored. We must never overlook the needs of the millions that are underprivileged, in vulnerable situations, displaced, or in one of the more than six thousand people groups who have yet to hear the name of Jesus or who need to have the Bible in their own language. Sadly, today missions in this fourth sense is often neglected and forgotten. A lot of people function in an “out of sight, out of mind” way. Yet Jesus has commanded His disciples to be willing to go to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Think of it this way. Your family, your neighbors, your fellow workers, and colleagues—in fact, all Americans—are almost certainly going to hear the gospel or have easy access to hearing it several times over their life. We need to be more concerned with those who haven’t heard it and will not unless you and I do something about it.
Excerpted from Andrew J and Owen Jennings, Missions Abandoned: Re-establishing Missions as a Priority in Our Lives and Churches (2016). Used by permission.