Mission Myth #5

Myth #5 - It's All about Meeting Needs

by Shane Bennett

Because few things stir compassion and stir action like stories and photos of hurting children, much mission mobilization has been accomplished by inviting people to meet needs. The logical result? An assumption that this is what missions is mostly about.

Now God makes it quite clear that He is fond of widows and orphans. Jesus speaks eloquently about cross-cultural compassion in one of his best stories. And working to meet the needs of others is a good and godly response to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

But mission efforts motivated by needs have this shortfall: More needs are always just around the corner. In order to keep compassion going, we may also feel like we have to describe more and more extreme needs. Rather than mobilizing, this can create a paralyzing sense of powerlessness in the very people we want to enlist in our cause.

I appreciate the framework Steve Hawthorne and John Piper (among others) have laid out for us: God is unfolding a wonderful plan to draw some from all peoples to himself. He is undertaking a great effort to restore all things and extend his blessing to all nations. Our mission? It's about joining God in his great purposes for our planet. Meeting our needs and the needs of others is a part of it, but the main thing is bringing honor to God: He is central.

Matt: Well if it's not about meeting needs, then what's it mostly about? Do you really go to bring honour to God? How much does that line of thinking actually play a part in you going?