Home » Stories of Mission » Back to Basics

Back to Basics

FROM THE PRESIDENT – By Aaron M. Kauffman
Aaron M. KauffmanMission is simple. Or at least it should be, if we take the Great Commission as our mandate. Before his ascension, Jesus commands his followers to “make disciples of all peoples” (Matt. 28:19, NLT). How? The same way he did: by proclaiming and living out God’s kingdom, and equipping others to do likewise. At its most basic, mission is a movement of people who know and follow Jesus and invite others to join in.

Yet that movement is carried on by people who remain deeply flawed. Too often, the missionary endeavor has advanced the agenda of so-called Christian nations that look nothing like the peaceable, upside-down kingdom of Jesus. Or it’s been carried out in ways that assume the superiority of the people bearing the message. Instead of “good news that will bring great joy to all people” (Luke 2:10), it has been bad news bringing great sadness to many peoples and cultures.

Is the missionary movement too morally bankrupt to continue? Not if we are willing to face our failures, repent of the harm we’ve done and seek to make amends. And not if we recover the vision and character of our movement’s Founder. Humble yet sure-footed, compassionate yet clear, open to all yet costing us everything.

Mission in the way of Jesus is good news for all people.

How do we know? The growth of the church among people previously unreached by the gospel is one sign. A century ago, when VMMissions was founded, North American and European Christians outnumbered Christians from other continents by over four to one. Today, for every Christian in the West, there are at least two in Africa, Asia and Latin America combined.1


If Jesus is truly our model and our message, we will still make mistakes, but the goodness of the seed will bear lasting fruit for God’s kingdom.


But it’s more than the rise of the truly global church that demonstrates the goodness of the movement Jesus started. Sociologist Robert Woodberry has demonstrated that the historic presence of “conversionary Protestants” in regions throughout the world has consistently resulted in higher levels of economic development, health, literacy, education and civic involvement, and lower levels of infant mortality and corruption.2 As Jesus once said, “You will know them by their fruit” (Matt. 7:16 CEB).

Global Christians are not just the hapless victims of Western expansion. They are active recipients of new life in Jesus, who makes himself at home in every culture and restores people in all their beautiful diversity to the kaleidoscope image of God they were created to bear.

Let’s get back to basics. Jesus launched a movement of disciples who make disciples. If he is truly our model and our message, we will still make mistakes, but the goodness of the seed will bear lasting fruit for God’s kingdom.

1 https://www.gordonconwell.edu/center-for-global-christianity/resources/status-of-global-christianity/
2 https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/january-february/world-missionaries-made.html