“Jesus came forward and addressed His beloved disciples.
‘I am here speaking with all the authority of God, who has commanded Me to give you this commission: Go out and make disciples in all the nations. Ceremonially wash them through baptism in the name of the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then disciple them. Form them in the practices and postures that I have taught you, and show them how to follow the commands I have laid down for you. And I will be with you, day after day, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20 The Voice).
How do these terms differ and how are they similar: Disciple and Missionary?
Practically speaking (not missiologically speaking, rather, super simplified), the only real difference between the two terms lies in relation to where one resides: in one’s familiar culture or in an unfamiliar culture. Geography and culture are external issues, that is, they affect the disciple or missionary from outside him or herself.
A disciple is one who has trusted in Jesus Christ as his savior and Lord and begun his life journey of learning from and obeying Jesus. A missionary is a disciple who has been commissioned by a larger body of disciples to go to another group of people, usually in another culture, who need to hear the gospel of Jesus and see it lived out in the disciple’s life.
The similarity in the terms, of utmost importance to both, is the internal reality from which both disciples and missionaries live their lives: The biblical worldview of the Kingdom (rule) of God and allegiance to Him. This encompasses obedience to Jesus’ commands to his followers, including his last command, to “Go (be going) into all the world and make disciples of all nations (ethnic groups) ….”
A well-known Christian denomination coined the term “On Mission” to inform, illustrate and shape the biblical lifestyle they desired for their adherents as followers of Jesus Christ. This is a good word-picture to help us understand that disciples of Jesus are to be “on mission” 24/7, living a life of loving obedience to Jesus Christ, part of which is going into all the world bearing the Good News of Jesus in word and deed.
Some disciples will literally go far away from home to foreign cultures, or across the country or across town into somewhat different cultures. As I indicated, we call these disciples, missionaries.
But each one of us, to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, will be “going into all the world” in heart and deed by a multitude of means: by prayer, by giving financially (and structuring our lifestyles to make that giving-going a priority), and by other works of support to get the gospel to those who have not heard it, those both near and far.
I’ll talk more about “those who have not heard it” in my next blog post.
Share your thoughts on this topic. Are you a disciple of Jesus and are you actively going into the world, and by what means? Leave your comment below. Let’s encourage each other.
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved. Copied from https://www.biblegateway.com/
 Examples of “other works of support” would be supporting a mission or missionary by finances and prayer. Another example is joining a group such as a She Is Safe Advocacy Group (www.sheissafe.org), taking part in events to raise awareness and funding for ministry to women and girls in areas of the world where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is little or not known. A close-to-home, hands-on opportunity is to volunteer with groups in the inner city or with at-risk children in your town (see previous post).