The Myth of Missionary Neutrality

The  things that we do either propels God’s mission forward or hinders the embodiment of his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

As a former Missionary that pioneered new works throughout the British Isles I would like to share with you some of the suggestions that will help you in your ministry in a new land among a new people. During my tenure on the foreign field I made a lot of errors that resulted in my losing some even though I was able to win some. I would like to list some helpful suggestions that will benefit you if you desire to be a soul winner in a new land and especially if you are an American Apostolic.

1-Forget about your Nationality and learn to become one with the people you are to minister too.

2-Follow the Apostle Paul’s word’s  found in

1 Corinthians 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. 19-For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20-And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21-To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22-To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23-And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

3-Learn their language

4-Learn their ways and customs

5-Preach only what is true and proven in salvation and in standards. If you have certain dress standards teach them by setting the example in your daily living

6-Remember they may not enjoy loud microphones and thundering or booming speakers. Jesus never used a loud speaker or a mike; neither did any of the Apostles

7-Show them love and respect in all things

8-Do not force people to the Altar invite them instead. The acceptance of Salvation, miracles, and/or healing must be their decision. Jiggle their heart and not their throat.

9-Reveal to them the power of the new birth and the name of Jesus Christ

10-Allow Jesus Christ to lead and guide you in all things.


It’s common to hear people speak as if there are three possible positions for life in relation to God. Some are in drive—moving forward in active obedience to the Great Commission. Others are in reverse, demonstrating rebellion against God’s authority and living to undermine God’s mission in the world. The rest are sitting in neutral, somewhere between drive and reverse.

Those in the first position are the missionary superstars of the church. They preach, lead, or better yet, they go across the world to take the gospel to those who’ve never heard. Those in reverse are clear enemies to the gospel. They flaunt their depravity through heinous acts that are universally decried as wicked.

Then there’s everyone else—the mass of humanity who saunters through life in a seemingly neutral posture.

Some of these neutral people profess faith in Jesus yet perceive of their existence as morally and missionally neutral, devoid of meaning most of the time. Others do not believe, however their posture toward life differs little from their neutral, supposedly believing friends. They simply live making decisions and investing time in ways that have little significance beyond the meagre reach of their influence, or so they think.

I (Jeff) write about these themes in my book, Kingdom Matrix, where I suggest that, contrary to this tripartite way of thinking, there are ultimately two, not three, kingdoms in which we can live.

The first is the kingdom of God wherein our lives are caught up in the grand mission of God and infused with worth, value, and significance by virtue of this reality. The second is the kingdom of darkness that defies God’s authority and works to undermine or abate God’s mission through volitional sin or passive apathy.

Far too often we believe in a third kingdom, “a grey territory that would contain the bulk of my time and energy. Not good. Not evil. Just life…The problem with the Third Kingdom is that it doesn’t actually exist” (pg. 28).

My conclusion, while validated by Scripture’s testimony, falls on deaf ears far too often. What happens if we believe this third kingdom defined by missionary neutrality actually exists?

We Compartmentalize Our Lives

The impetus for the pervasive sacred-secular divide is found in neutral. If we erroneously believe that the majority of life is spent plodding through secular activities divorced from God-consciousness, then it’s easy to rationalize neutrality.

But if, as I’d submit, all of life is sacred and every activity, down to the most mundane, is done as an act of worship unto the Lord, then everything we do either propels God’s mission forward and fosters universal praise of his greatness or hinders the embodiment of his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

We Confuse Mission

Neutrality also confuses the mission of God’s people, suggesting that mission only applies to missionary superstars who devote the totality of their lives to gospel proclamation or to those actions by all the rest of us that fit the normative categorization of evangelism.

As such, only about 1% of the average person’s life would count at “mission,” and that percentage would only apply to the five-star Christians. The other 99% of our investment would not count—time spent showing hospitality, jump starting a neighbor’s car that won’t start, opening our hearts and our wallets to the widow or orphan, or sitting on a kid’s bed comforting them in their tears.

If we remove neutral from the vocabulary of the church, we reframe all of life as mission and animate all of life with God’s missionary purposes.

We Miss Joy

The economy of the kingdom of God redefines value. Those who participate in short-term missions often get a little taste of this truth. They invest money, travel to an unfamiliar context, and give a week to serve in ways they’d gripe about back home.

The result: Joy. Great joy. Joy found in pouring themselves into work that matters. Joy in storing up treasure in heaven. Joy in a sense of participation in God’s mission to save sinners and fix the world.

Joy and mission go hand in hand. When we claim to live in neutral we miss the joy God intended for his people.

If all of life is mission and mission is found in all of life, then we can experience joy in the trivial, hope in the mess, and peace in a life well-lived.

Language shapes culture, as evidenced by the fictitious sense of “neutral” among those who profess faith in Jesus. If we take neutral out of our vocabulary, it forces a reappraisal of every aspect of life in light of the key question: Is this enhancing or undermining the mission of God? There’s no place for neutral in that answer.