What is a missionary and what are their qualifications?

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Pergamum, Jun 18, 2009.

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  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Missionary is not a biblical word. What IS a missionary anyhows.

    And how do you become one?

    What does one do?

    What are his and/or her qualifications?

    What is his and/or her job?

    Also, what about the term "evangelist"? The NT says to do the work of one, but of the Ephesians list of Apostles, evangelists, pastors/teachers, most would say that only the pastor and teacher is around nowadays. Is the office of an evangelist now expired?
  2. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    I was always under the impression that a missionary was someone who has been sent to proclaim the Gospel and disciple others in a different context or culture. I'm sure the word missio has something to do with the word. I think the word is like the Trinity, the word isn't found there but the concept is clearly there. But I actually haven't thought much about the word missionary now that I think about it! Good questions yet again! I'll have to chew on the others because they are related to your other post.
  3. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    The dictionary says the English word mission comes from a Latin word which means to send. Romans 10:13-15 says,

    For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

    Romans 10:14-15 (cf. Acts 13:1-4) is cited as a prooftext in The Form of Presbyterial Church Government (1645) when it discusses the nature of ordination of a minister of the gospel.

    It may be said then the job of a truly sent missionary is the job of the preacher/pastor. Ministers of the word are tasked to bring the message of the gospel to all the nations (Matt. 28:18-20). Doing missions Biblically understood therefore presupposes a lawful calling on the part of the missionary. This also explains why Reformed believers consider ordination as essential to Biblical church government (1 Tim. 4:14). The Form of Presbyterial Church Government also says,

    The Belgic Confession explains,

    Of course, this doesn't remove the responsibility of Christians to be a light to the world and give a reason for the hope that is in them (Matthew 5:14; 1 Peter 3:15). Believers whether church officers or not should share the gospel to their family, relatives and friends in their general office as Christians.

    The qualifications for elders are found in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

    The Form of Presbyterial Church Government mentions that,

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    What about all of Paul's "fellow-workers" in the NT (the sunergois I think is how it's spelled). All seemed not ordained, and some were women. They seemed to travel much and do tasks for the church and cooperate broadly on the field. These seemed almost like missionaries of today.

    How does this relate to missions today?

    Not the main observation that I have, but one of them is this, I am willing to call un-ordained men and men as "missionaries" too as they labor on the field, the women doing wonderful jobs teaching children and women. If we view Paul's co-workers as the first missionaries, then missionary groups that work asa team and incorpate others besides strictly pastors then is supported by the practice ofthe Pauline missionary band. This would also mean that a missionary does not function as a pastor to pastor a chuch but part of a team trying to plant a church.
  5. Caroline

    Caroline Puritan Board Sophomore

    Wow, very interesting question.

    Personally, I do wish there was a stronger definition of the word. I am rather cynical about anyone who claims to be a 'missionary' because I have seen that word often abused.

    In the circles I grew up in, pretty much everybody wanted to be a missionary. But claiming to be 'called' was often an excuse to do nothing and expect other people to support them. I have known college students who expected their church to pay their college bills because they were planning to become missionaries, but ultimately, they never set foot out of the United States. I have known families living in the USA and doing no ministry at all to expect other people to support them because they were 'missionaries'. And I have known people to live in other countries (such as South Korea or Japan) and do no work, but go back to the United States and claim to have a huge ministry and raise support.

    Furthermore, there is the nagging question of short-term missions that last a week or so and no more. Maybe Fred raises $5,000 for a trip to Guatemala. Fred can't speak Spanish, so when he gets there, there's not much he can do. So the local missionaries put him to work painting the church. Let's assume (best case scenario) that Fred is a nice, responsible guy and he really does paint the church and maybe he isn't horrible at it. Are we seriously suggesting that the missionaries couldn't find anyone local to paint it for less than $5,000? Maybe someone poor who maybe really needs the money to feed his family? Worst case scenario (which I have often seen) is that Fred starts painting, and then realizes that it is hot in Honduras and he doesn't like to paint, so he drops the 'work' after a day or so and goes sight-seeing, so essentially those kind folks back home who supported him just paid for Fred's vacation to Honduras.

    Personally, I'd say the biggest qualifier for being a missionary is that someone has to actually do something, and do something USEFUL. I don't care if they are ordained or not ordained. I'll support missions, but darned if I'm going to pay for someone's vacation or support someone for being lazy. The problem is, of course, that there's very little oversight in far-flung corners of the world. It was easy to see who was working and who wasn't when I lived in South Korea. It's very hard to tell the difference from my house in New York.
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Great information, Albert! (#3)
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    How would we define and welcome those who are not ordained but ae functioning on evangelistic teams overseas? The definitions you give seems to limit the missionary to an ordained elder-qualified male? If we do not call females missionaries, what should we call them and how should we use them so as not to restrict their use overmuch on the field?

    Also, what is your view of "a call" - many preachers get a call from a church that is already in existence, but missionaries are called to help the church come into existence in regions where there is no church or opportunity to administer the sacraments for a very long time.

    It appears that if we clump a missionary into the definition of a pastor, that we need to still distinguish them from other pastors in that his calling is different and his life will look very much unlike pastoral ministry where a church is alreeady in place.
  8. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    I am one of the regular attendees of a Reformed church plant in one of the cities of Metro Manila. Our pastor is an ordained Reformed minister of the Word and the Sacraments, and he is living in the country with his wife and his daughter. (His three older sons are residents of California. Two are already married.) He is a missionary sent by his church. But since the work of church planting involves the help and cooperation of his wife and daughter in activites like paying bills, preparing food for the members of the small congregation, and regular correspondence with and visits to members and prospective members, I think that the wife and the daughter are in this sense also "missionaries."

    Your second paragraph accurately describes the situation of my pastor. He received a call from a church that is already in existence, but was sent to work as a missionary in this part of the Philippines. As far as I know, there is no other Reformed church in the city where our congregation meets.

    Like other Reformed congregations, our congregation also started with a core group of lay people which participated in Bible studies held by our pastor. After several months, he started conducting Lord's Day worship services. In this sense, I think lay people (both men and women) not only assist the missionary pastor but in one way or another also help in the fulfilling of the Great Commission.
  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, I do think that many who become reformed begin to think that they need to minimize the role of un-ordained Christians in the work of the Great Commission.
  10. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    A related issue has been the subject of discussion two months ago. See the following threads.




    Yes, there is disagreement on this point between the paedobaptist Reformed and the Calvinistic/Particular Baptists. Actually, I became aware of this difference only several months ago. This is seen in the teaching of the respective groups' confessional standards.

    The WLC asserts,

    But the 1689 LBCF says,

  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    What's the differences between preaching, evangelizing, witnessing, explaining the Gospel, teaching, announcing, praying for someone, etc, and what are the gender and status roles for the fulfillment of each activity.

    There seems to be freedom enough in this work for all to be involved in some capacity.
  12. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

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