I just finished reading M. David Sills’ book The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God’s Plan for the World. Here are some thoughts on it.
Sills does a good job explaining three main understandings of “the call” and ties them back to the Bible and Church history. The three are 1) there is no specific call since none is mentioned in the Bible (making missions a job like any other); 2) the call is the Great Commission and all Christians should answer it unless they have a specific call to “stay” at home; and 3) Since missionary work is so special and tough, nobody should attempt it unless they have received a very specific personal call. Obviously all three can’t be true. Sills spends the book outlining his understanding of the missionary call. You’ll have to read the book for details, but in short, yes there is a specific personal call but it will not look like anybody else’s call; it is implicit in the Great Commission and must be taken seriously but there is also a call to some to “stay” and be senders. He takes the example in Acts of Paul and Barnabas being set apart for missions as proof of the existence of the call and also proof that not all are called and none should feel guilt for staying and sending if that is what God wishes for them. Having said that, Sills spends quite a bit of time discussing common hindrances to obeying the call to missions, from aspects of getting ready to the most emotionally difficult, feeling a call when your spouse does not.
I found this book a clear refreshing discussion, personally apt and broadly applicable. The area of the missionary call in Christian circles suffers from great confusion, and Sills has done a great service clarifying it for us. So if you need a book to read, grab this one!