Are You Doing Ministry or Missions?

Is there really a difference? Yes. Over the years, I have heard many leaders tell me they were actively involved in missions. But when I dug a little deeper, it seemed they were actually doing ministry.

Okay, stay with me because this is when it gets a little Charlie and the Chocolate Factory crazy: you can be a missions group without doing missions, and you can be a ministry group and do more missions than a missions group, or vice versa.

Did you get that? It’s true. Ministry and missions can be 2 different things, and the way to tell the difference is to look at whom you are focusing on. Ministry typically happens within the church walls and to a body of believers, whereas missions happen outside the walls of the church and to those who have not responded to the gospel. See the difference?

The beautiful thing is that with missions discipleship, we can offer our kids the best of both worlds. As we minister to children through missions programming, we meet needs of discipleship and offer a community of fellowship, but when we challenge them to go beyond the walls of the church, we get to model fulfilling what the Great Commission looks like in their context. When we create our ministries to function with this inward and outward focus, we help them understand that it’s not just about receiving the gospel and growing — it’s also about going and sharing His hope with others who don’t know.

There is no right or wrong way to do ministry and missions, but if we want children to develop a lifestyle committed to living on mission, we must do ministry so they can do missions. The key is to have intentional balance.


Liz Encinia is a grown-up GA and the missional lifestyle strategist for preschool, children, and students for WMU of Texas. As a pastor’s kid, she has developed passion for missions discipleship and helping the next generation live out their faith in Christ. She is a currently studying at Regent University and is a candidate for the doctorate of strategic leadership. She lives in Dallas, Texas, and is the proud mom of her Chihuahua, Rocko.

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