If God Can Protect Those Who Go To Hard Places as Missionaries, He Can Protect Those Who Go in to Culture-Shaping Vocations As Well

This is a great point I just came across in some of my notes, from I think the book Fearless Faith:

I’ve always wondered why we could be so quick to sacrifice our children to become missionaries but stand in the way of their becoming broadcast journalists, film and television actors, photographers, and painters. It’s almost as if we believe God is strong enough to take care of his own only as long as they stay within the safety of the Christian ghetto.

I’m all about missions and taking the gospel to unreached people groups. I think that, in addition to this, we also need to realize that the gospel also spreads through the vocations of all Christians, wherever they are (as long as we understand the proper relationship between faith and work — which most don’t!) — and that more Christians are needed in culture-shaping vocations.

In other words, the recovery of a robust doctrine of vocation is just as essential to the completion of the Great Commission as embracing the challenge of going to hard places to bring the gospel to those who have never heard.

(And, beyond that, as people come to faith through the vocations of every Christian, there will be more who in turn go to the unreached.)

  • http://CottrillCompass.com/blog Jim Cottrill

    I absolutely agree with your comments about needing a more “robust doctrine of vocation”.

    But . . . um . . . it sounded a little too much like you were saying that those children who become missionaries are in a “Christian ghetto”. I don’t think you meant it that way.

    Of course, some missionaries are in a “Christian ghetto” . . . but I think that’s not the idea of being a missionary. Missionaries are storm-chasers.

    And let’s also remember that many missionaries may be broadcast journalists, film and television actors, photographers, and painters . . . and why not?

    So I wouldn’t draw the lines quite as you have. But YES – we need Christians serving their communities in their vocations. Sometimes missionaries can even forget that, as they disciple people and think they can only serve God in 3 ways (ie pastor, Sunday School teacher, deacon). (This can be a challenge where Christians are few and church leadership is hard to find – and it can be a challenge disciple bi-vocational church leaders)

    Having Christians serve their communities in vocation is not only to serve the culture – but to do what missionaries and pastors and all Christians must do – make disciples.

  • Dana Olson

    It is not my experience that parents are quick to “sacrifice” their children to become missionaries. On the contrary, parental opposition is one of the greatest obstacles to overcome in the missions movement. It is sometimes overt and sometimes subtle. With one of my own on the other side of the world, I can honestly say that it is only with many tears and much heart-rending that we send her on her way. Also, you would be interested to know that there is a robust prayer movement among artist/believers in Hollywood/LA/SoCal.

  • Robert

    2 issues here:
    (1) You forget the key issue of motivation between the two. It is far safer spiritually to be facing physical and spiritual opposition for the motive of glorifying Christ in reaching the unreached – than it is to face opposition in the cause of “shaping culture”. Of course, if you can steadfastly hold to glorifying Christ as your supreme motivation for shaping culture then that should be OK, but too often people mainly choose careers in acting, performing, broadcasting or painting because they love the profession rather than primarily because they love Christ. Even worse, sometimes the main motivation may be money or status, even though they make fine speeches about doing it all for Christ.

    (2) The second issue is when missionaries visit a culture swamped with idolatry (e.g. where everyone sacrifices to idols as an everyday routine), they are typically careful to consider which aspects of that culture they can adopt (e.g. dress) and which must be rejected (perhaps buying food sacrificed to idols). They will also consider which aspects of the new culture could present particular temptations to them. Yet when a Christian works in an equally idolatrous environment (e.g. music industry) typically not as much thought goes into avoiding idolatry. I suspect that if a prospective Christian singer considered the threats to their faith seriously, and the money/sex/power-idolatry that goes on, they would be much less willing to be involved. Often (particularly in the example of a Christian singer) there are so many ways they could serve the church, singing worship music for instance, instead of probably jeopardising their faith by joining a secular establishment. Sure, Christ is powerful enough to ensure a Christian works in a difficult situation without losing their faith, but I would be worried for the faith of a person whose commitment to Christ did not include a determined effort to avoid all unnecessary temptations to compromise. Some temptations may be unavoidable (e.g. temptation to miss church if a job requires Sunday work, a work colleague who views pornography etc.) but if you have the skills to be a “culture changer”, then you are probably skilled enough to find work outside of an overly corrupting environment.