I was recently in a conversation with a fellow student at my school and they brought up a “missionary society” they had worked for. I thought to myself, “What is a missionary society?” I decided to research what exactly a mission society is and how they work.
What is a missionary society? A missionary society is an organization that is dedicated to missions. Missionary societies have been around since the 1800s, and their purpose is to help support missions and missionaries. Some societies do this by sending missionaries, while others work to provide churches and Christians resources about missions.
According to Merriam-Webster, “[A missionary society is] a local, denominational, or interdenominational religious organization dedicated to the support of Christian missionary work.” While this definition may seem broad, the key aspect is the organization is “dedicated” to its support of missions. To help you better understand missionary societies, let’s first look at the purpose of them.
The Purpose of Missionary Societies
The purpose of missionary societies is to support missions. This can be done in a number of different ways:
- Financially supporting missionaries
- Helping send missionaries
- Partnering with ministries around the world
- Helping bring awareness to unreached people groups
Each missionary society has a unique mission statement which leads to how they support missions. These mission statements help their mission to stay focused. Let’s look at different missionary societies to see how they are fulfilling their goal and ultimately helping to fulfill the Great Commission.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the ageMatthew 28:18-20
5 Missionary Societies Today
Here are 5 missionary societies and how they are supporting missions:
Taking the church to where it is not and helping others do the same.Bethany International – Missions Statement
Bethany International is a missionary sending organization. They are focused on bringing the church to where it is not by training and sending missionaries. They also partner with ministries around the world to help them take the church to where it is not.
One way they are doing accomplishing their mission statement is the Engage 500 project. Bethany International set the goal to engage 500 unreached people groups by 2020. Unreached people groups mean that less than 2% of the population are evangelical Christians. They are currently engaged with 461 people groups and counting. Their work with the unreached is helping to take the church to where it is not.
We believe God is calling believers to embrace what remains an “unfinished task” and live out the Great Commission.OMF International – Mission Statement
OMF International, formerly called China Inland Mission, was founded by Hudson Taylor. You can read more about Hudson Taylor’s work as a missionary here. OMF International is dedicated to bringing the Gospel to East Asia. They do this by working to:
- Translate the Bible
- Provide medical care
- Start Church plants
- Engage in community development
- Working with unreached people groups
They are working towards their goal of starting a strong church in East Asia. They are accomplishing this by placing missionaries around Asia to spread the Gospel.
The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.J. Hudson Taylor
[To see] Christ-centered churches established among all African peoples.Africa Inland Missions – Mission Statement
Africa Inland Missions is working to build a strong church among every people group in Africa. They currently have over 1,000 missionaries throughout 20 different countries in Africa. They also work to send out short-term mission trips and two-year outreach programs.
According to their website, “…about 1000 of Africa’s 3700 unique ethnic people groups are still unreached, with no viable witness to the good news. That’s over 300 million people who have little opportunity to hear the gospel, and even less to be discipled as a follower of Jesus. It is for these we labor.” They are working towards bringing the Gospel to these unreached people groups through missionaries.
Our call is to see people set free to play their part in the mission of God.Church Mission Society – Mission Statement
The Church Mission Society is focused on sending missionaries across the world. They have missionaries in over 40 countries. They also offer gap year programs along with 6 months to two year programs. Their missionaries focus on six areas while on the field:
- Making disciples
- Encouraging leaders
- People at risk
- Lasting economic change
- Peace and reconciliation
- Creation care
Each missionary under the Church Mission Society would understand the importance of these six areas and live them out on the field. They would also follow the five marks of missions:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
These five marks of missions are based on Jesus’ ministry. The Church Mission Society understands the importance of sharing the Gospel in a way that honors God. Their mission is to send out more missionaries to bring the Gospel around the world.
We believe that all of God’s people are called to join in God’s mission – whether that means going overseas or over the road – and we work to set people free to put this call into action.The Church Mission Society
IBM [International Mission Board] partners with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, planting, and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.International Mission Board – Mission Statement
IBM is focused on sending missionaries out to areas where there is no church. Currently, they have over 3,500 missionaries on the field. They focus on partnering with churches to send out missionaries. They believe that every church has a part in reaching every nation. Along with sending missionaries, they work to train churches and guide them in how they can be involved with missions.
They need people to partner with them to pray and give so that missionaries may go out onto the field. You can learn about how to partner with them through prayer here. IBM is working to help fulfill Revelation 7:9, which says,
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.Revelation 7:9
Each one of these five mission societies understands the importance of sending missionaries out to spread the Gospel. Every Christian has a role to play in fulfilling the Great Commission. We need people who pray for those on the field, people to finically support missions, and people who are willing to go and share the Gospel. What will your role in missions look like?
The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.Carl F.H. Henry