Not everyone is a missionary.Ephesians 4 identifies roles in the church. My thoughts on roles:
- Pastors maintain existing bodies of believers. Demographic growth is incredibly important: when Christian exceeds 60% of the population, most growth will be demographic (believers who marry believers and raise believing children). When demographic growth rates are significantly under those of the population around them (e.g. marriage rate falls, divorce rate spikes, reproductive rate falls, religious defection right rises) the church will shrink as a % of the population.
- Evangelists seek growth through conversion of culturally similar non-Christians around the church community. Demographic growth + Conversion growth will nearly always exceed the growth rate of the country’s population and increase the church’s influence. But evangelists are not the same as pastors, since they are looking for a different kind of growth. Evangelists and pastors most often are (and I would argue should be) of the same culture as those being engaged by the church.
- *Missionaries (apostolic gifting) seek growth across a cultural boundary *not commonly crossed by the pastor or the evangelist. This could be linguistic, cultural, caste, etc. Apostolic types are typically not like the church they may be found in, since they are predisposed to look outward to others. For apostles to be most effective while supported by the church, a local pastor will have to ‘make space’ for them, supporting and encouraging them.
We say “every member a missionary” but we don’t actually mean it. What we really mean:
- “every member a witness” (ready to give testimony to what God has done in your life)
- “every member an evangelist” (ready to share the Good News of salvation)
- “every member a disciple maker” (who works deeply with people to help them grow in their obedience to Jesus).
But “missionary” means (a) sent (b) across a boundary to where the Gospel is not (c) to see a church planted (not just converts made) that (d) can reach everyone in that place without the missionary being present (through the work of witnesses, evangelists, pastors, etc). A person gifted as a pastor or an evangelist or a missionary should not be persuaded, pressured or demanded to be something they are not. We need every part of the Body, each to be involved in the work of the Kingdom, doing the thing we are made to do. If indeed we were all missionaries - who would pastor?