Jesus commanded us to do more than merely reach the lost. Much more. He has called us to make disciples, teaching them to obey everything He has commanded us.
We must be faithful to do the hard work of choosing faithfulness to the task He has called us to, even when the vast needs of the world overwhelm us. While it is difficult for pioneer missionaries to stay in a ministry context after the first believers are saved, the Bible teaches that someone must teach nationals to know the Lord, be discipled, and trained to reach and teach others.
The knowledge that many die daily without ever hearing the name of Christ can compel us to move on to new unreached areas prematurely. We must recognize that to abandon a people before discipling them and teaching them all Christ has commanded us falls short of what Jesus Christ told us to do and can result in heresy, syncretism, and eventual abandoning of the faith among that people group.
Not only must we teach those we reach we must do so in culturally appropriate ways. For the vast majority of the world, this means developing training programs that are effective among oral learners and then following up with literacy training programs. We must look toward the time when just as we have been commanded, there will be discipled and taught believers among every people group.
Because life is short the number of missionaries so few, and the need is so great, we should train trainers and teach teachers who can multiply our teaching ministry until Jesus comes. Thousands of believers are rising up in the Southern Church and hearing God's missionary call. We seek to be an intercultural missions training force to prepare them for faithful and effective service.
David Sills (D.Miss., Ph.D.) is Associate Dean of Christian Missions and Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as President of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries. He joined Southern Seminary after serving as a missionary in Ecuador. Dr. Sills is the author of The Missionary Call, Reaching and Teaching, two books in Spanish on the Highland Quichua of Ecuador in addition to numerous chapters and articles on missions. David maintains an active ministry taking teams to train pastors and leaders all around the world, focusing on Latin America. He and his wife, Mary, have two grown children.