What is Missiology? Why is it important for us to know about it?
The Great Commission
Surely you’ve heard of the Great Commission, but what about the “great omission?” That’s a play on words that means many Christians omit being a witness for Christ. Instead of being sent out by Christ to make disciples of all people, they sit and allow others to do this. This is given the fact that the Great Commission is an imperative command given by Jesus Christ (Matt 28:18-20). This is not a suggestion by Christ but marching orders for the army of God from the King of kings and Lord of Lords! We are to march into enemy territory and sow the seeds of God’s Word. We are not responsible for who is and who isn’t saved. God is responsible, but we are responsible for telling them. Every believer should be “on mission” for Christ. That is, they are to be salt and light, but salt is useless until it gets out of the shaker, and light does nothing if it’s hidden under a table! Jesus would not call us to be salt and light and then have us move to a monastery. We must move from being pew potatoes to sowers, sowing the seed of God’s Word. God is responsible for the harvest, but we are responsible for the sowing.
Missiology is simply the study of missions. By missions, we mean missions as found in the Bible. A missiologist is someone who studies and is trained in missions. Missionaries are rarely chosen if they have not already been on mission for Christ where they live. If they are not sharing Christ where they live, what makes us think they’ll do it in a foreign land, so missiology is very important because it’s a distinctively multi-disciplinary, and it covers a nation’s history, language, anthropology, geography, their belief systems or theology, as well as a good understanding of their culture and customs. The Apostle Paul said to “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Rom 13:7), and this includes showing honor or customs to those to whom it is due. When American dignitaries meet Japanese dignitaries, they should respectfully bow as a formal greeting. This is giving honor to whom honor is due, just like a handshake does, so missiology is involved in many of the preceding areas, and missiology is vital to effective missions. Missiology is really a study of Christian theology because the entire Bible is concerned with the saving of souls.
Not only are we less evangelistic these days, we are less into missions or outreach activities than last century, but interestingly, most of the smallest churches are having the greatest impacts. Most churches that have small membership seem to grow closer together, and this union with the members gives them a greater sense of being the Body of Christ, and what does Christ’s Body do? Someday, Jesus will say to the saints, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:35-36). The saint’s will be so involved in serving Christ that they won’t even see it as serving Christ (Matt 25:37-39), but that’s just how Jesus sees it (Matt 25:40). These are areas that God has appointed us to walk in beforehand (Eph 2:10). These are all personal missions every believer is called to, just as it is to love the members of Christ’s Body. Love is how everyone will know who His disciples are. It won’t be by our theology, biblical knowledge, or apologetics. It will be by our love for one another that people will know we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:34-35), so loving one another is also a missionary activity.
A missiologist is someone who sees God’s mission as centering on the work of Christ through the Body of Christ. As I touched on earlier, a missiologist is someone who incorporates theology, a nation’s culture, history, language, anthropology, sociology, and their religious beliefs, and helps them to be an effective missionary for Christ. A missiologist studies almost everything they can about a nation in which they or a missionary are sent, but this knowledge could also be helpful in their own state, city, or urban area. Without a broad understanding of the people to whom they are sent, they will unnecessarily offend some, and make it more difficult to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to always give the hope of Christ with gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3:15).
If you’re interested in missions or in becoming a missionary, please speak with one of your church leaders. I know they’d love to speak with you about how you can be a more faithful witness for Christ, or they can help you in participating in a local outreach activity. Our church offers church services for the local nursing home, we write prisoners in the state and local area, and we help the poor once a year at the beginning of the school year. Your church probably has some form of outreach or missions, and if not, why not suggest one…or even start one!? You and I must be on mission. We can join others in going into “all the world” to make disciples of all nations, but the thing is…going into all the world starts with our next door neighbor. If we’re not going next door to share Christ, it’s not likely He’ll send us into the world. If we are faithful in little now, He will entrust us with much more, later. It is my hope and prayer that someday, we will hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21).
Here is some related reading for you: How to Get Involved in Missions 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.