"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Mission Trips

21 Ways to Avoid Missions

Seth Barnes

I met with Art Baruffi at a coffee shop near the office. Art is a friend with a heart for missions. He gave three months of his time to help build the Gateway in '95. As we were engaged in conversation, an old man approached the table and asked for a dollar. I said, "No, I don't have a dollar," and he shuffled out the coffee shop door. I never quite know how to respond to beggars. I guess my first inclination is that I don't want to encourage their dependency. But after a few moments, I reflected that I did have a dollar and should share it with the man. So I went outside and looked for him. He came back in, accompanied by a friend. Art and I bought them some stuff and Art began to talk to them. Their names were Bill and Arnie.

Art made conversation and then began sharing Christ with them. Before I knew it, he was leading both Bill and Arnie in a prayer of salvation. Whether they were praying out of gratitude for the coffee or in sincerity I don't know. But upon reflection, an important principle occurred to me. In life we almost always have a second chance. We repeatedly mess up as we respond to circumstances in sinful or inappropriate ways. But if we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us, He'll tell us when we've screwed up and need to go back and change course. Bill was already down the sidewalk and out of my life, but it was not too late for me to meet his need.

Many of us live with regret because not only did we make a mistake, but we've not done anything to go back and make that mistake right. We prefer to avoid the embarrassment of acknowledging are error and let the wrong go on unaddressed.

Just as the unexamined life is empty, so the arrogance which refuses to go back and change course leads to emptiness and ultimately self-reproach. How many other "Bills" are there who I should have pursued but allowed to walk out of my life?

About 15 minutes after Bill and Arnie left the coffee shop, an old woman walked up and stood by our table waiting for an appropriate time to interrupt our conversation. Finally we paused and she said, "Could I use your chair to sit down?" I gave her my chair. And this time, we didn't wonder about what the appropriate response was. We joined her at the table. We discovered her name was Bernice. We talked with her about her loneliness. We discussed her Catholic background. We talked about the friendship that Jesus can offer, and we led Bernice in a prayer of salvation.

Bernice symbolized for me the reason that I'm called to missions. Though no one else cared for her, she needed to know that Jesus did. Jesus feels Bernice's loneliness, He has compassion for her. But He needed Art and I to express it yesterday in the coffee shop. Bill taught me afresh to set aside my own agenda and focus on the bottom line of my call. Bernice helped cement that lesson.

If you ever feel like your losing touch with your original call, I urge you to find your own Bernice or Bill. I ran across the following list and wanted to share it with you:


1. Skillfully avoid the command in John 4:35 to take a long, hard look at the fields. This is not only depressing but unsettling and could lead to genuine missionary concern.

2. Have a good healthy socially legitimate target ahead of you, such as higher qualifications, promotion, bigger home, better car, etc.

3. Get married as soon as possible so you can devote your life to the socially accepted norm of settling down, raising a family and saving up for old age.

4. Stick to generalities. Never allow the stark needs of specific mission fields to make an impact on you.

5. Never expose yourself to personal contact with missionaries. Their testimonies are disturbing, and the situations they describe tend to contrast with the materialistic living in the western world.

6. Insist that your theology of guidance rules out any possibility of specific personal direction from God.

7. Keep busy. Always bow to the tyranny of the urgent and avoid concentration on the importance of the strategic.

8. If you've been wrongly criticized, had a dirty trick played on you, etc. maintain that hurt and stay offended. People with a chip on their shoulder don't usually have time for the needs of others.

9. Rationalize about missions. After all, if 250,000 missionaries can't finish the job, what difference will you make?

10. Develop a closed-door mentality. Remember, Albania, Pakistan, Tibet, North Korea all turn down visas from time to time.

11. Develop a 'national church can do it' attitude. Never investigate the percentage of the population they constitute, or the severe limitations of their resources.

12. Focus your attention on the evils of your own society. All fair-minded Christians will applaud your concerns about the 'unsaved right here in our own country'.
13. Missions begins at home - make sure it finishes there too.

14. Always keep in mind your past failures. It is unreasonable to expect that you will ever get any better and besides, you're not ready to go yet...maybe never will be. Of course, ignore the examples of Peter, Moses, etc.

15. Always look at those involved in mission as super-spiritual people with extraordinary gifts and saintly characters. This will heighten your sense of inadequacy and remove any guilt complex about trying to be like them.

16. Avoid all books that emphasize the ability of the Holy Spirit to change lives and to provide power for service.

17. You can always claim you don't have 'the missionary calling' and since you have not been in a cross-cultural communicating ministry no one can prove you are wrong. (On the other hand, you can't prove yourself right, either!) Finally, if you are getting a little concerned about missions and God's heart for all the world:

18. Go right away without any training at all. That way you will be back soon and can say you tried.

19. Insist that you must find a slot that is exactly tailored to your qualifications (that way you'll never find an opening).

20. Start worrying about money and the impossibility of surviving in a country with an annual one hundred percent inflation rate. (The Lord couldn't possibly cope with that.)

21. Listen to those who feel you are indispensable where you are, and that your church can't do without you.

22. Never sing the hymn 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. Always substitute with the version:

Mark time Christian heroes,
    Never go to war.
Stop and mind the babies
    Playing on the floor.
Wash and dress and feed them,
    Forty times a week.
Till they're roly poly,
    Puddings so to speak." (C.T.Studd)



Used by permission of Seth Barnes.
? 2001 Adventures In Missions
6000 Wellspring Trail -- Gainesville, GA 30506
Toll free: 1-800-881-2461 or from GA: 770-983-1060

About the Author

Seth Barnes does short-term mission trips through Adventures in Missions. Find out more about this fine organization at http://www.aimtrips.org/.


Reach Out Youth Solutions also does short-term mission trips. Find more about them by clicking HERE.