Why I Refuse to Call MInistry Missions

Over pepperoni pizza with a friend last night I expressed my desire to help others in a deeper way. More than once in the conversation I told him “man I just want to do missions!”

My frustration describes a common struggle for Christianity.

We are awesome at ministry
But we are terrible at missions

Now some people may view ministry and missions as the same thing, but trust me when I say there are HUGE differences

Ministry is about:

  1. Getting involved with a group that’s already doing a work in the community
  2. Ministering to physical or emotional needs [1]
  3. Developing relationships
  4. Spending a few hours a week with those in need

Missions is about:

  1. Starting something yourself in most cases
  2. Ministering to a persons spiritual needs [2]
  3. Explaining what’s going on in the world from a Christian worldview
  4. Developing a deeper relationship built on transparency [3]
  5. Spending quality time with individuals instead of a few hours each week

Let me just say that there is definitely a need for Christians like myself to be involved in ministry [4]. However we must stop doing ministry and calling it missions because there is a big difference.

So why do Christians struggle with missions while we are so awesome at ministry anyways?  There are many answers but the most basic one is this (at least for me).

Missions involves taking risks, and there is a high possibility of rejection.

There is almost no risk in ministry; they give training, fit into your schedule, will answer any questions, and if a problem arises the organization will do anything they can to help.

Missions is all about risk

For instance I feel the Lord leading me to start a free one on one tutoring program for children or teenagers in low income housing areas from a Christian worldview using the Gospel [5].

In this situation I would need to

  1. Create the lesson plans
  2. Find area where free tutoring is needed
  3. Find a place there to do tutoring
  4. Promote the tutoring program
  5. Earn the trust of families in their area [6]
  6. In many cases find a way to get children to the place where teaching is done, and back to their home
  7. As I get to know children create lesson plans specifically for them
  8. Create and promote lessons on subjects important to individuals in that area
  9. and so on

It’s pretty obvious going to a school for an hour every Thursday morning is a lot easier than missions

Again I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t be involved in ministry…there are definitely people out there in need.

The issue is when Christians do ministry and call it missions.

Because missions is messy
It takes an incredibly long time
It involves more than just an hour a week
It means facing your fears and risking rejection
And it’s not for the faint of heart

But it’s also the most incredible thing you could spend your life doing.


  1. poverty, lack of quality education, poor family background  ↩
  2. their need of a Savior for their sins  ↩
  3. These real relationships take a VERY long time to build  ↩
  4. In most cases it’s only after earning a persons trust that we can enter into a deeper relationship  ↩
  5. this will be done from a Christian perspective so the Gospel is part of my lesson plans  ↩
  6. understandably they won’t trust me right away  ↩

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