Myth 1: Missional entrepreneurs spend so much of their time working that they don’t have time to minister. This lack of time makes them ineffective in ministry.
Myth 2: Full time missionaries spend all of their time in ministry. This makes them more effective.
Logic tells us that both of these myths should be true. In reality both myths are fraught with problems.
Full time does not mean full time. A survey from years ago showed that full time missionaries on average minister only 22% of the time. Many only 10% of the time. The bulk of their time was spent on the normal tasks of living. This was especially true for those with low income. The less money they had the more time they had to spend on surviving in the host culture. For example standing in line to get a propane bottle filled rather than hiring someone to stand in line for them.
Time invested, by itself, does not determine effectiveness. There is no positive correlation between time and results. We do not live in a closed system controlled by cause and effect. God intervenes to accomplish spiritual results independent of how much time we invest. I remember leading a person to Christ 15 minutes after I met him. I also remember studying the Bible for three years with a person who never came to faith.
Ministry defined. If ministry is restricted to religious activities at a designated place at a specific time then both myths are reinforced. True ministry, however, is heart-to-heart. The Gospel flows from one life to another as believers demonstrate Christ-like character and speak compassionate words of truth. This type of ministry happens at any place at any time.
Enterprise as context. Transforming ministry takes place in the messy circumstances of life. The milieu of the marketplace provides countless opportunities to naturally live out the Gospel in deeds and words. Full time missionaries often need to create their own contexts for ministry. These controlled environments are often viewed as contrived and irrelevant.
Competence counts. Professional knowledge and skill creates credibility and respect. Excellence builds trust. Demonstrated expertise earns the right to be heard. If the person is trustworthy, the message is more likely to be taken seriously.
I’m not saying there is no place for the vocational missionary. I am saying that we cannot assume that just because they are full time they are more effective than missional entrepreneur’s. In many cases missional entrepreneurs are more effective.
Have I dispelled the two myths to your satisfaction? What do you think?
- GEN Desk Contributing Writer