What Do Missionaries Do?

As I’ve been looking into short term mission opportunities, one thought I’ve had is, “How best could I be used to serve and support the full time workers I’ll be visiting?”  This in turn led to the question, “What is it missionaries even do in the first place?”

Looking at the big picture, it seems the Church has 3 main tasks:


  • Upward –> Worshipping God
  • Inward –> Building up fellow believers
  • Outward –> Ministry toward everyone

All Christians should be involved in each of these areas, but full-time missionaries spend the majority of their time focusing on the “outward” aspect.  So what does this “outward” look like, practically? I think the following list (adapted from CMML) provides a good high-level overview.  As you look through the list, think of how many of these you have already been involved with.

  • Camp Work (Children & Adult Bible Ministry, Halfway Houses)
  • Children’s Homes (Orphanages)
  • Church Planting (Establishing Ongoing Assembly Work, Conferences, Developing Relationships)
  • Correspondence Courses (Developing & Translating Courses, Distribution & Grading)
  • Education (Bible & Vocational Teaching, Language & ESL, Discipleship)
  • Evangelism (Personal, Small Groups, Prison Ministry, Bible Studies, Door to Door)
  • Flight Service (Remote Transport)
  • Medical (Doctor, Nurse, Dentist, Related Support Ministry)
  • Printing / Literature (Preparation, Distribution, Writing)
  • Radio (Broadcasting, Transmission, Programming)
  • Support (Missionary Care, Hospitality, Administration, Logistics)

Here’s my summary:

    1. They Meet Physical Needs [tippy title=”James 2:16-17″]If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.[/tippy]
    2. They Teach the Gospel ([tippy title=”Acts 18:5″]When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.[/tippy], [tippy title=”1 Timothy 4:13″]Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.[/tippy], [tippy title=”2 Timothy 2:24-25″]And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct…[/tippy], [tippy title=”Matthew 28:19-20″]Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [/tippy]
    3. They Love People ([tippy title=”1 Corinthians 13:3″]If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.[/tippy], [tippy title=”Ephesians 4:32″]Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.[/tippy])
        • Wherever they are
        • Regardless of their condition
        • With no expectation for return

At its core, I think missions hinges on relationships. 

So today’s post was simply designed to get the creative juices flowing.  For different types of short-term missions trips, I found this article helpful.

What thoughts do you have regarding what missionaries do?

One thought on “What Do Missionaries Do?”

  1. Hey Nick! Been reading some of your thought-provoking blogs this day while I was waiting for my computer to process some files. Thanks!

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