My grandfather went on several mission trips to Mexico years ago. When he arrived back home he would light up when he told us how many tracts they had given away on the street corners. This was their main task: handing out little folded papers that had Bible verses on it that shared the Gospel. As a person involved in missions now I believe what he did was a waste of time and resources. I know many Mexican people and have good relationships with them. I’m well aware that some of them are illiterate. I’m also aware that their culture is very relational. Handing out tracts isn’t the “best” thing.
So, how do we gauge what to do and what not to do in Christian missions? Our resources are limited, so how do we know if we’re using our resources in the best place?
One test to help us answer this question is something I learned from a missionary in Nigeria. I don’t know if this concept is unique to him or if he learned this from someone else. All I’m saying is I cannot take credit for this as it’s not my original idea. It has certainly stuck with me and helped me fine tune various ministries I’ve led and it’s been successful for us.
He shared three words:
GOOD -> BETTER-> BEST
We can do many “good” things for God. We would all say that helping someone is a good thing. But is it the best thing? We can evaluate our “good” things and make them even better in the work that we do, but how do we know if we are doing the “best” thing when we are choosing what to do and what not to do on a daily basis in our mission ministries?
GOOD – I can do many acts of kindness, but so can someone who isn’t a Christian! I know many kind, giving people who aren’t Christians. What makes the Christian different than any other volunteer who serves an organization? Can we even call this “Christian ministry?”
BETTER – The difference is we have been transformed by the Gospel message and that is the very reason we have a desire to do an act of kindness. So, we can take our good thing and make it better if we share the Gospel as we go along. We should always be ready to share the reason for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15). We need to constantly be finding ways to put more God in what we’re doing! How can we take our good things and make them deeper missionaly?
The BEST thing is sharing the Gospel with people who respond to it and in turn those who responded sharing it with others. When someone finds transformation they want others to know about it! We need to be providing atmospheres for this to happen. Of course this requires us to appreciate and be excited about our own faith experience and we need to be willing to share it.
One way this has been fleshed out among us is we developed a camp for at-risk kids that were referred to us by school social workers. 50% of the kids who came to camp accepted Christ for the first time after hearing the Gospel many times throughout the camp experience. One of our volunteers felt led to open her home to those who were new believers to create a space to disciple them and help them grow. These kids invited their friends to come hear what they has experienced.
Do not despair if you’re doing too many good things! You can make them better by being intentional at sharing the Gospel as you go along and be thinking about what you’ll do when someone comes into the Kingdom! Have that plan in place and ready!
And remember: He who tried and failed is much better than he who didn’t try at all!
So take your good things and build relationships through then so you can share the Gospel and watch God move in powerful ways. Ask God to transform those who are the recipients of the Good News in your ministries.