Are you a goer or a sender? I trust you’ve heard a preacher or a missionary ask that question. Their point: the Great Commission calls some people to leave kith and kin for the foreign fields of unreached peoples. And it calls other people to send missionaries with prayer, finances, and other support. But we all work together to fulfill the Great Commission. Which job is yours?
Interestingly, the distinction is less popular these days. People don’t talk about missions. They talk about mission—without the s. We’re all goers, they say. We are already there among the nations. You are on mission. So get going.
The Bible, however, adopts a both/and posture. Yes, every one of us is on mission. But don’t forget about missions. You should be both a goer and a sender.
The Great Commission applies to you in your local setting. So work to make disciples. But the Great Commission also calls you to care for more than just your nation. So work to send missionaries across national borders. Or go yourself.
Let’s back up to the beginning. God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, to fill and subdue the earth. He tells Abraham that his seed would be a blessing to the nations. So God sends Jesus, that Seed, whose life, death, and resurrection become that blessing. Then Jesus commands us, once again, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill and subdue, and to do this by making disciples.
That’s what we see the early church doing. They made disciples in their own cities. And they prayed and sent people to other cities.
The church in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to places where the gospel had never been preached: “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:3).
Paul sent the Colossians a “support letter” with prayer requests: “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Col. 4:3–4).
John encourages Gaius and his church to partner with him in sending missionaries: “You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 6–8; see also Titus 3:13).
Work to make disciples where you live now. Consider how you and your church send missionaries. And consider whether you should go. That might mean becoming a supported worker. Or it might mean transplanting your current job to another country with fewer churches, Christians, and Christian resources. So are you a goer or a sender? The answer is yes.