“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NASB95)
The word “GO” in the Great Commission is unavoidable. Over the years I have observed various preachers and Bible teachers point out the Greek word translated “go” is poreuthentes. It is an aorist participle which some might translate “as you go” or “having gone.” They observe that what Jesus seems to have in mind here is a lifestyle of making disciples. We are to be making disciples all along the way in life. Certainly, it would be hypocritical to be a soul winner thousands of miles from home and yet never share Christ in the community where we live. However, we must be careful not to let this interpretation of the Great Commission minimize the importance of going beyond where we live and frequent. In fact, I consulted no less than 13 Greek lexicons and every single one of them pointed out that poreuthentes refers to travel. Yes, we are absolutely supposed to make disciples at home, but we are also to travel and make them as well! It’s not “either or” but rather “both and.”
It is my conviction that every Christian who is physically able should go on some type of mission trip. Please allow me to share with you several reasons why I feel this way…
1) Going on a mission trip shows that you desire to obey the Lord. The Lord has said to go, and actually going shows that you take God at His word and His command.
2) Going on a mission trip gets us out of our routine and our comfort zone. There is power in getting away and solely concentrating on doing something for the Lord Jesus. We have so many distractions and pulls on our time during our “normal” life that living on mission for Christ can get crowded out. Going on a mission trip reminds us of what it is like to focus and look for opportunities. Also, since we are out of our routine and away from home, we are more likely to stretch ourselves and try new things. I have been on mission trips with people who had never made a visit or never worked with children before going on a mission trip. In fact, the one and only time in my life that I have ever done puppets was on a mission trip to Memphis years ago! Now THAT got me out of my comfort zone!
3) Going on a mission trip actually challenges us to do more at home. Years ago, I had a pastor friend who went on a mission trip and they were helping a mission church do Vacation Bible School. Since the mission church had few children, the mission team spent their days going door to door inviting children and families to come. As that pastor walked up to knock on yet another door, he said a startling realization came to him: “I had been the pastor of my church for twenty years and never once knocked on a door to invite kids to Vacation Bible School.” When that pastor arrived home from that mission trip, he led the church to make hundreds of contacts in advance of their own Vacation Bible School and the result was record attendance and record numbers of children coming to faith in Christ.
4) Going on a mission trip broadens our vision and enriches us. It is a wonderful experience to meet people from different cultures. It enriches us to make new friends and see new sites. Most of all, we are reminded that it’s a big world and there are many times more people who live outside the United States than who live in it. Our heart for the nations grows when we actually go to the nations.
5) Going on a mission trip grows us spiritually. You will pray more on a mission trip, guaranteed! You will feel more dependent on the Lord than normal, and that is a very good thing. In fact, some of the most spiritually enriching times of my life have come when I was away from home out of my comfort zone and God spoke to me. He had more of my attention.
Yes, going on a mission trip requires sacrifice. Depending on where you go, it can be expensive. At the very least, it will cost us time and energy to go on a mission trip. However, a mission trip is one of the greatest investments you will ever make. Isn’t it worth sacrificing to do something for our great Savior? Isn’t it worth sacrificing to be obedient? If you are able, step out on faith and GO. You’ll be glad you did!