One of those sayings with a funny name, “The Prohibition of Foreign Missions by Jesus,” comes from Matthew 10:5-6. Jesus here tells his followers to concentrate on the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel and not go off to the ways of the Gentiles or to a city of the Samaritans. Jesus’ mission was itself shaped by the same (Matthew 15:24) — but it began to spill over to the Gentiles.
This saying, along with what follows, is very important to understand the gospel of a missional approach to the Kingdom of God.
The next few verses, verses 7-8, tell the apostles exactly what to do: preach the kingdom of the heavens, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and exorcise demons. But, Jesus adds, you’ve been given this gift so don’t do it for money (my paraphrase).
What stands out for a narrative reader of Matthew is two things: (1) the specifics of these verses vary significantly from both Mark’s presentation in Mark 6 and Luke’s two presentations, in Luke 9 and 10; and (2) the specifics line up perfectly with what Jesus has just done in Matthew 8–9. In other words, what Matthew is saying is that the apostles were sent out to do what Jesus did and to extend what Jesus did to more people.
A missionally-shaped church ministry is nothing more and nothing better than getting to do what Jesus did, in the power of the Spirit, to others and for the good of the world. Pastors, or leaders, are to set the tempo by creating what I think is critical in this passage: a holistic gospel.
Jesus saw sick people, dead people, unclean people, and spiritually-oppressed people (and probably people offended by money-grubbing ministers). And because he saw this sort, he headed straight for them. We, too, need to keep our eyes open, our ears open, and our minds open — so we can listen, look, learn, and link to those in our neighborhood and beyond.
More could be said, but the task is awesome. And more than enough.