Missions: Man-Centered or God-Centered?

From Missions Mandate blog:

In response to a man-centered view of missions, which makes man’s needs the ultimate motivation for missions, Dr. Dave Doran offers this analysis:

While it cannot be denied that both the wonder of and biblical revelation about creation demonstrates that mankind was the pinnacle of God’s creative activity, the Scriptures are clear that “all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col 1:16). As Paul draws his profound discussion of God’s sovereign purposes in Romans 9-11 to a close, he does so by demanding that our focus be God-centered: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (11:36). The proper biblical response to the wonder of creation is to stand in awe of His glory, not gush about how much we matter to God and how wonderful it is that God made all of this for us to enjoy life!

So at the core of any examination of missions must be a basic question about its ultimate purpose or goal. Is missions primarily centered on man or on God? Is missions an ultimate goal or is it a means to an ultimate goal? Without apology it is my contention that John Piper is correct when he writes:

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.1

We must be willing to go against the grain of our man-centered world in order to ground our obedience to God in the highest motive possible – God’s glory. I believe that the Scriptures are clear that God’s glory is the ultimate goal of missions and that our pursuit of His glory is to be the driving force of missions.2

1John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 11.

2David M. Doran, For the Sake of His Name, (Allen Park, MI: Student Global Impact), 50-51.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

One thought on “Missions: Man-Centered or God-Centered?

  1. Interesting . . . and I agree – I think often missions becomes about us, us wanting to do something for God, us wanting to save the world, us wanting to feel good about ourselves, us wanting to look good to others, us wanting to bribe God with our goodness and so on. With the degree of praise missions receives from our fellow believers, we need to be VERY careful about our motives and that we are walking in God’s will for our lives not what we feel we should do or is the right thing to do – it should be about God, not us – and His agenda not ours, the Spirit leading not us.


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