I saw a Snoopy cartoon not long ago where Snoop was shooting with his bow and arrow at a wall. He would then run to the wall and paint a bull’s eye around the spot where his arrow had landed. Charlie Brown, looking on, asked him what he was doing. “This way I never miss!” was Snoopy’s response.
So in missions (and life), what is your target? Is it fixed? Or can we move it at will?
It is easy to do like Snoopy. What I mean is to rejoice in what we have accomplished in a way that makes whatever we accomplished exactly what we were aiming for. So we’ve got a legitimate business going in a creative access country…so we’ve built some strong relationships with some higher-ups in the community…so we’ve had a lot of opportunities to share the Gospel to a nodding listener over a cup of tea…so we’ve become an insider in the culture and learned the language with great skill…so we’ve been able to help a village build a school or put in a playground or dig a fresh water well…so…so what?
All of that is good but the One who sets the bull’s eye has already written it down plainly. As a missionary (or a Christian in general) we have a few in concentric circles that our Boss has already laid out:
Big Circle: Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations
Small Circle: Start churches with all those who believe (baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit)
Smallest Circle: Teaching them to obey all things whatsoever I (Jesus) have commanded you.
So here are some penetrating questions to ask your would be Snoopy’s (missionaries or self, in fact):
How are you doing at getting the Gospel out in a way that some are responding?
How are you doing at gathering believers and baptizing them into a church?
How are you doing at training the believers to be faithful? to be men of God? to be preachers and pastors?
If you’ll ask yourself these questions honestly, you just might save yourself a lot of misguided target practice.