I always wanted to be a CHRISTIAN missionary. I grew up in faith during the height of the Billy Graham era and when short-term missions really began to spread its wings and fly. I loved reading books by Elizabeth Elliot and Amy Carmichael. The idea of getting to share God’s love with someone and seeing lives transformed as a result has inspired many of my life decisions. In my early twenties I got married, had children and received my bachelors in nursing but the call into full time missions never came. In fact, God gave me a stern NO. I have been called to serve the church and for the last 2 decades. I have done this through serving in church leadership in the area of missions and outreach.
This last year I was given the opportunity to step out of ministry and take a sabbath year. It has been a time to rest, pray and wait on the Lord to tell me “What’s Next” in my life. I think God is just now revealing it to me...
I want to be a Christian missionary. Not the standard kind but an actual missionary to my tribe — Christians.
You may not know this, but though they are still the most generous of all religious groups, things are getting rough in the church in this new millennium.
Christians have the highest divorce rate of any religion
Christianity is least practiced religion for individuals 18-29
The number of “practicing Christians” now at 35% in the U.S.
Church attendance has leveled off or decreased across our nation
There is a growing sense of distrust of white evangelicals
Over the last decade many young Christian leaders have attempted to address the core issues within the church that are playing a role in “the end of Christian America.” Authors like Hugh Halter and Donald Miller have been joined by podcasters like the Liturgist. They have been trying to wake the church up to the pain some Christian practices or beliefs are inflicting on their neighbor. Their anger at “The Church” is palpable and I get it, but I can’t help but wonder if they might make a greater impact if their voice was a little more gentle or loving?
Niaya (my 17 year old daughter) and I were recently talking about the book "Jamie The Very Worst Missionary,” by Jamie Wright. She does an amazing job sharing about the damage “The American Church” is inflicting on their neighbors here and on other cultures around the world. We both wish her book could be required reading for everyone going on a short-term team or just striving to walk out a Christian life. But there is a F#$@ problem with the book. It’s the language barrier. Though the message Jamie has to share is powerful and life-changing truth, it is written in a language that the church doesn’t speak. Or even find offensive. The truth is that her book, like Halters and Millers, needs to be translated if it is to bring about change in the life of the church. Like any other culture the church needs to hear truth in its own heart language for transformation to take place.
Confession: I lack any/all linguistic skills which has been a struggle for me when doing international missions. (Seriously, I’ve had the sweetest children give up on teaching me.)
But, this girl who sucks at learning new languages, speaks Christian fluently. I know what blessed, a posture of prayer, a heart of worship, anointing, quiet time, small group, discipleship, sabbath, speaking in tongues, blasphemy, freedom, covenant, kingdom of God, liturgy, communion, spiritual gifts, fellowship, grace, and let’s not forget, obedience, all mean. I can communicate what Jamie says about the damage high school christian missionaries do by coming back from the “field” and saying things like “they have so much joy”, or “I learned I should be thankful for all I have” in a way that well-meaning believers will understand or take the time to read. (Don’t know why this is a problem? Check out her book or ask for my less “offensive” interpretation.)
Who wants to join me in being a missionary to the American Christian Church? They need us now more than ever. It is literally dying of starvation due to the overconsumption of empty religion.
Christian Language Dictionary