Why isn’t every Christian a missionary?  Why isn’t every good work done in Jesus’ name a missions work?  Because language matters and definitions matter, don’t they?

Take the concept of marriage for example.  Christians are currently fighting for the meaning and definition of the Biblical concept of marriage” and rightly so.  Why? Because when God introduces marriage in the Bible, He conveys clear and objective meaning.  The world around us is trying to co-opt a new meaning for marriage — they are trying to highjack the word and make it mean whatever they want it to.

Isn’t it hypocritical then for Christians to allow personal preferences, cultural trends and perhaps even prejudices to shape our definition of missions, rather than allowing it to be shaped by the Bible?  When Jesus gave the Great Commission, I don’t think He intended us to pool our good ideas and to simply pursue the things that we care about.  I believe He was conveying objective meaning and purpose when He gave His final marching orders.

Jesus cares about definitions.  The meaning of the Biblical concept of missions is not up for grabs any more than the meaning of marriage is up for grabs. Which is precisely we must stop calling every Christian a missionary and every good work done in Jesus name a missions work.

Today, on the International Day of Prayer for the Unreached we would do well to think seriously about what Jesus meant when He commissioned us to make disciples of all nations.  You see, the world’s 7,000 unreached people groups are unreached not because they are unreachable.  They are unreached for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that when we call everyone a missionary and every good work done in Jesus’ name a missions work, the priority of taking the Gospel to all nations is obscured and we end up neglecting the very task laid out for us by Jesus.  Simply put, calling everyone a missionary guts the mandate to make disciples of all nations.

Matthew Ellison
President and Missions Coach

For more information on how Sixteen:Fifteen can help unleash your church’s potential to reach the nations, call to talk with a Church Coach at 505-248-1615, email info@1615.org or www.1615.org to visit our website. For additional information for the book, “When Everything Is Missions”, visit www.wheneverythingismissions.com


“When Everything Is Missions” is a brief, provocative book where Matthew Ellison (Church Mission Coach, Founder and President of Sixteen:Fifteen) and Denny Spitters (Vice President of Church Partnerships for Pioneers’s- USA) tackle this topic. The book is designed to help Christian leaders rethink their definitions, exploring the following seven key questions: 


  • Do our definitions matter?
  • What is our mission?
  • Why are we involved in missions?
  • Is every Christian a missionary?
  • How are missionaries sent?
  • What is at stake?
  • What are our next steps?