The status quo, or the state of affairs, concerning world evangelization may be acceptable to many, but is it acceptable to God? After all, it is His work; He allows us to share in it. We may be content for things to continue the way they are, but is God’s will being done on earth as it is in Heaven? Alexander Duff (1806-1878), missionary to India, said, “We are playing at missions.” He said that about his generation; what would he say about ours? He might say, “The status quo must go!” If the status quo is not working, then God help us to do things differently.
No honest observer could say that we are fully obeying the command of Christ to preach to the nations. There are thousands of ethnic groups that are still unreached; many of them are totally unengaged. Paul strove to preach where Christ had not been named (Romans 15:20). That was two millennia ago. Surely, there could not be people today who have not heard the name of Jesus! But there are. Jesus said that we are to preach His gospel to every creature, and still there are billions that have never heard it. The way things are is not the way things should be. God help us when the Coca Cola company has put their product in almost every community in the world, and we have not preached the Gospel in these places! Our status quo preaching needs to go!
The number one priority of a Christian should be the Great Commission of Christ which is, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations…” But is it? We have rhetoric such as, “Christ’s last command is our first concern.” But is it? Is the average church member reminded from the pulpit what his priority is supposed to be? Churches are busy with programs, and pastors have many topics to deal with. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but the missionary wheel doesn’t usually get much grease. It needs to be a big wheel and it needs to squeak loudly! Our low-status quo missionary priority needs to go!
Low missionary priority is reflected in our lack of prayer. When was the last time you heard a prayer request for God to send out missionaries from your church? It’s not wrong to pray for the sick, but that gets most of the attention. Occasionally someone will request prayer for lost souls. That’s good, but what about praying for lost sheep without a shepherd in India, Siberia, Albania, or a few hundred other countries? Jesus did not suggest that we lift up our eyes on the fields; He commanded it (John 4:35). He did not suggest we pray for laborers, He commanded it (Matthew 9:38). A church prays for a pastor, and soon God sends one. It prays for a new van, and before long one is in the parking lot. The church might even go to the throne of grace for funds to build a multi-million-dollar family life center, and God provides! So, why isn’t God sending out missionaries from our congregation? We aren’t asking Him to! Our status quo praying needs to go!
God commands us to go. But the status quo says to wait for God’s call. God says to present your body a living sacrifice, and then you will know His perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). The status quo says little about surrender or presenting our bodies. It says, “Do what is in your heart to do, what you want to do.” (Our generation seems to be comfortable with this.) It also says, “Be very careful not to go to the mission field unless you are 100% sure you are called of God.” Ask any young person, even one at a Christian college, “Why don’t you go to the mission field?” The answer, almost without exception, is, “I’m not called.” The young person cannot give you a scripture verse, and he cannot tell you how he would know if he were called. He simply doesn’t feel called. He will probably add, “I’d be willing to go if God wanted me to.” Would we be out of place to ask, “Have you presented your body a living sacrifice? You say you are willing to go; have you told God? Have you asked God to let you go?” The status quo says to wait for a call and then surrender to it. God tells us to first surrender. Our status quo of presenting our bodies must go!
Jesus never told us that paying to take the Gospel to the regions beyond would be easy. Sending missionaries to the field and keeping them there is expensive. How much expense is too much? What did it cost to rescue those boys in that cave in Thailand last year? The cost was not a consideration. Nobody said, “They aren’t worth what it is costing us.” The status quo mission giving is very low. Status quo Christians have money for what they consider important. Many churches do not even teach or encourage personal missionary giving. The church may give a small percentage of its income to missions, but the people themselves give nothing directly to send missionaries. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). It may take a missionary three or more years to raise needed support. Some give up from discouragement and never reach their field. Many go to the field under supported. Our status quo paying needs to go!
Finally, the status quo missionary preparation needs to go. We are sending missionaries with little or no special training in language and culture learning. A missionary does not have to speak with a distracting foreign accent. He should never bypass language learning and resort to using an interpreter. Lack of specialized training limits the missionary to the few languages that have language schools and leaves thousands of languages untouched by Baptist missionaries. Our missionaries, with very few exceptions, do not translate Bibles because they have no training in linguistics and Bible translation principles. Archilochus wrote, “Men do not rise to the level of their expectations; they fall to the level of their preparation.” Advanced training is available; the problem is that the missionary and his pastor either do not know of its existence and importance, or they do not want to invest the time and effort to get it. Our shameful status quo missionary preparation needs to go, too!