Is Missions Good for the World?

Greg Harris   -  

Let’s play a word association game.

What’s the first word that comes to your mind when I say:




While you may not have had a negative word for the last one, you likely did for the first two.

Interestingly, outside the church, these three words are seen as synonyms.

In high school and college, when the Conquistadors were brought up, sentences about missionaries also appeared. Today, many think missionaries spread Western culture – not Jesus.

It’s because of these associations that many people are against missions.

But they shouldn’t be.

Imagine if there was a movement that could raise the literacy rate in a country, increase health and lengthen life, aim people at having more freedom and democracy, and value other humans more?

There is a movement like that – it’s called missions.

Robert Woodberry, a professor at the University of Texas, did a study on this, and wherever protestant evangelical missionaries have gone the culture ended up better off on all indicators of human thriving.

They had more literacy…

More educational enrollment…

Lower infant mortality rates…

Longer life expectancy…

Greater economic development…

Less government corruption…

And political democracies! [1]

See, the message of Jesus is one that lifts every human and empowers them to be what God made them to be.

It’s a message that puts everyone before the cross and calls everyone to be all God made them to be.

It’s a message that is needed in a dark world, a message of light that sets us free.

No wonder Jesus told us to take this message to the ends of the earth!

It isn’t just for our benefit, but for everyone’s.

We can do two things with this kind of knowledge: help promote missions and spread the knowledge.

Too many people have a negative view of missions because they have listened to teachers and professors who don’t know what they are talking about.

It is important that we help people realize that the gospel brings about this kind of prosperity.

It isn’t in spreading education – that just makes the powerful more intelligent.

It isn’t about just teaching people medicine – that often leads to them not trusting the doctors and still dying.

It’s not about forcing a democracy – most cultures don’t have the mindset for individual freedom before God, and so end up in dictatorships.

The only thing that sets a person free, and to see the world as given to us by God to be used, is the gospel.

As Christians, that is something to be proud of and to talk about, because our secular friends and family need to hear it.

Finally, let’s support missions. It is the greatest movement for a country. It’s great to support Habitat for Humanity, The Red Cross, or some other cause group, but, to get the best bang for your buck, invest it in the mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

That not only affects the nations for the moment, but also for eternity!

Church – let’s go!

[1] “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, A Reader. ‘The Social Impact of Christian Missions’”, by Robert D. Woodberry, Institute of International Studies, c. 2009, pg 288.