20 Quotes from a Missions Book Every Pastor Should Read

The following quotes caught my attention as I read Andy Johnson’s outstanding little book, Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global (Crossway, 2017) [review | excerpt | excerpt | excerpt]. I am not exaggerating when I say that every missionary—but especially every pastor—should read this book.


“Imagine a local church where the congregation’s mission to the nations is clear and agreed upon. Elders guide the congregation toward strategic missions. Missions is held up as a concern for all Christians, not just the niche ‘missions club.’ The tyranny of new trends and demands for immediate, visible results hold no sway. Members see missions as the work of the church together rather than the personal, private activity of the individual. In this church, members see missions as a core ministry of the church, not an occasional short-term project. Relationships with missionaries are deep, serious, and lasting. Joyful giving to missions is a basic part of the church’s budget, not merely the fruit of occasional and desperate appeals. And members actually value missions enough that some want to uproot their lives and be sent out long-term by the church.” (19)

“The church was God’s idea. It is his one and only organizational plan for world missions. . . . Any humanly invented organizations that assist in missions must remember that they are the bridesmaids, not the bride.” (27)

“The best way to encourage your church in missions [may be] to stop talking about missions for a time and, instead, talk more about the gospel. I’ve seen churches that have tried to get their members excited about missions without being excited about the gospel. The result was pitiful.” (32)

“The glory of the gospel—not the neediness of mankind—is the self-sustaining fuel for global missions.” (35)

“Missionaries are not just self-styled free agents. They should be accountable to a specific local church.” (39)

“If we choose the right people, we need not worry about giving them too much money. If you are seriously concerned that excess money given to your missionaries will be wasted, you should probably bring them home and send out trustworthy missionaries instead. . . . Our responsibility is to send discerningly, not support suspiciously.” (41)

“As we talk with members of our churches about going to the nations, we—not some parachurch sending agency—should be the ones to evaluate their character and help them grow as needed.” (43)

“If you carefully read Acts and the Epistles, you will notice that heresy, confusion, and syncretism most often occur at the edge of gospel expansion. Therefore, that is where we need our best-equipped people. Such work is not for every Christian who simply loves to share his or her faith. We need to make sure those we send possess deep theological knowledge, so that what they teach can be reproduced in the lives of their hearers with accuracy until Christ returns.” (45)

“Churches are where faithful missionaries are made.” (46)

“The core of missions preparation is not mission studies. It is godliness and Bible knowledge and evangelistic zeal and love for Christ’s church and a passion to see Christ glorified. . . . Our understanding of the gospel and the church is more important than any specific missionary strategies we might employ.” (47, 48)

“Extensive travel and international experience are not prerequisites to missionary work. A love for the gospel, a faithful life, an affirming church, and a willingness to go are. Missionaries aren’t world travelers with full passports. The best missionaries tend to go to one place and stay there, sometimes for the rest of their lives.” (48)

“The local church . . . retains a responsibility for the welfare of its missionary. . . . Sadly, many churches use parachurch sending organizations in a manner that looks more like abdication than delegation.” (51)

“Too many churches view the breadth of their missions commitments, rather than the depth, as the measure of their love for the nations. I’ve seen many a church hall adorned with a map sprouting pins for every place where the church supports a missionary. That may be just fine, but not if the church assumes that having more pins equals more impact for missions. In reality, it often means the opposite—meager support to a bunch of missionaries barely known by the congregation. But what if we turned breadth and depth on their heads? What if a church gave the same amount of money, but instead of fifty pens there were only five or ten? Or lots of pins in a large church, but in only three or four places around the world. How might that change things?” (59–60)

“The goal of missions is to gather churches that plant other churches.” (63)

“If a missionary is offended that you ask for a description of what she did during the past week or month, be concerned. . . . A willingness to move overseas for the gospel doesn’t say anything about their character, competence, or work ethic.” (66)

“I’ve visited several countries where well-meaning missionaries became so urgent in their desire for speed and numbers, and so careless in their methods, that new churches were declared planted and then abandoned in a manner resembling spiritual abortions more than births. . . . The work of missions is urgent, but it’s not frantic. We long for a harvest, but God has nowhere guaranteed a rate of increase.” (68)

“We should never take up Satan’s work by tempting [missionaries] to sin through pressuring them toward unfaithfulness. Yet we do that when we demand metrics with an implied link to their support. If we subtly communicate a desire for a certain quota of baptisms, as some have done, we may unwittingly be taking up Peter’s role from Matthew 16:23. There our Lord rebukes him, saying, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’ Let the Devil do his own work. We needn’t help him.” (73)

“Being long-term focused [means] doing short-term trips with the long-term mindset. Rather than just providing ‘missions experiences,’ consider trips that support the work of existing long-term teams to whom you are committed.” (84–85)

“The best way to change how a church does missions is not by decree but by teaching.” (118)

“We may fail in our faithfulness, but God will not fail in his mission. Christ will have the nations for his inheritance. Frantic speculation and guilt are weak motivators compared with the truth of God’s unstoppable plan to rescue every child for whom Christ dies. Christ will not lose any of those whom the Father has given him, and God has chosen to use us—in countless local churches—as the agents of his gospel triumph.” (120)


Previously in the “20 Quotes” series:

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