by Kevin T. Bauder
Historic Baptists agree that the work of missions is the work of planting churches. They derive this conviction from the uniform pattern of the New Testament. When the churches of the New Testament commissioned and sent out a member, it was invariably either to plant churches or to assist someone who was planting churches.
If the New Testament pattern holds, then a missionary’s work is not primarily to educate the ignorant, to feed the hungry, to heal the sick, to seek justice for the oppressed, or to engage in other works of mercy. These works are incidental to missions. While such works may be useful in facilitating church planting, and while they may be performed as fruits of the individual missionary’s Christian compassion, they are not properly the work of missions, and they should never be allowed to displace the work of missions.
Who, then, is a missionary? Properly speaking, a missionary is a church planter. The missionary’s responsibility is to preach the gospel, baptize those who profess the gospel, train believers in the faith, and organize them into New Testament churches. If Timothy and Titus may be used as examples (there are some differences), the missionary’s responsibility is not complete until the churches are fully ordered and self-perpetuating.
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