Missions supporting church sought greater stewardship and member mobilization
Real spirituality always has an outcome. There will be a yearning and a love for souls. – Oswald J. Smith
Having applied four times for service in overseas missions, Oswald J. Smith, founder of The Peoples Church in Toronto, Canada, was turned down each time due to his lack of qualifications and chronic health issues. Initially discouraged, he eventually began to sense God’s call upon his life to “be a missionary to the whole world” and resolved that, “Even if I live in one place, I must reach beyond my local parish to the world” (Neely 1982, 79).
He took that calling seriously and spent the remainder of his life appealing to North American masses to develop a heart for local revival and global missions. Some of his more defining statements in the early part of the twentieth century (e.g., “Why should anyone hear the gospel twice, before everyone has heard it once?”) have left a mission legacy that continues to define the core aspects of The Peoples Church today.
I joined the staff of the mission department of The Peoples Church a few years ago, and in many ways what I discovered reflected the tremendous mission passion, zeal, and heritage that had been handed down to us as a congregation. We were at that time giving around $2 million to missions each year (which represented nearly forty percent of our total church giving). We were supporting 379 missionaries through 76 agencies, and giving priority to a three-week global outreach conference for our congregation each year. Missions was obviously a core part of our identity, and in many respects we appeared to be an above-average “missions” church.