How much is a missionary worth? Our answer to this question has massive implications to the way we view our time, our budget, and our other resources. When we think about local mission, there is a second, related question that we must consider: Are we calling our people to become volunteers or missionaries? This may seem like small distinction, but I would argue that we think about these two groups in drastically different ways.
Volunteers are not worth much, in fact…they are free. We think of volunteers as something that saves us money, something that keeps us from hiring a position or paying for services by the hour. Volunteers are a bonus. They are the icing on the cake, making something that was good, slightly better. Here is the problem, volunteers are not essential, and therefore are not valuable. They are helpful, but only to a small degree.
Missionaries, on the other hand, are priceless. Missionaries are essential. They are the primary means that God has chosen to share his message with the world. When we consider the great commission, the call to go and make disciples, we see missionaries are central to the mission of God. Unlike volunteers, missionaries don’t save us money, they cost a lot, but the cost is worth it. We will devote hours, months, even years to training and equipping missionaries. We will give thousands to see one person take the gospel overseas. We are willing to pay whatever needs to be paid to send a missionary, because they are valuable.
Volunteers are free, missionaries are priceless.
When you think about training and calling your people to engage the city, which word best describes the role you are calling them to? Does your local mission strategy send volunteers or missionaries? If you are sending volunteers, then you are probably not very excited about giving more resources to this cause. If, on the other hand, you are sending missionaries, then you probably want to spend even more time and money, even if it means just sending one more.