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1.  Set an infinite value on immortal souls.

2.  Gain all the information you can about “the snares and delusions in which these heathens are held.”

3.  Abstain from all English manners which might increase prejudice against the gospel.

4.  Watch for all opportunities for doing good, even when you are tired and hot.

5.  Make Christ crucified the great subject of your preaching.

6.  Earn the people’s confidence by your friendship.

7.  Build up the souls that are gathered.

8.  Turn the work over to “the native brethren” as soon as possible.

9.  Work with all your might to translate the Bible into their languages.  Build schools to this end.

10.  Stay alert in prayer, wrestling with God until he “famish these idols and cause the heathen to experience the blessedness that is in Christ.”

11.  Give yourself totally to this glorious cause.  Surrender your time, gifts, strength, families, the very clothes you wear.

Listed in Christian History, Issue 36, page 34.


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2 thoughts on “William Carey’s 11 commandments of missions”

  1. James B says:

    I’m also a big fan of Hudson Taylor’s distinctives of the China Inland Mission as well, though they are perhaps lesser-known:

    1. Priority is given to unreached inland provinces while seeking to evangelize the whole of China.
    2. No solicitation of finance, or indebtedness; looking to God alone; pooling support in life of corporate faith
    3. Identification with Chinese by wearing Chinese dress and queue (pigtail), worshipping in Chinese houses
    4. Indigenization through training Chinese co-workers in self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating principles
    5. Recruitment of missionaries not based on education or ecclesiastical ordination, but spiritual qualification; deployment of single women in the interior and Christian professionals
    6. Interdenominational-International Membership
    7. Headquarters on the field, director rule; leaders and workers serving shoulder to shoulder

    He was far before his time, and we still have a lot to learn from his methods of building indigenous church planting movements.

  2. Shannon R says:

    I love this list. I do have a question about #11. I agree to an extent on surrendering family, but as one who lives in overseas service I constantly battle to “surrender” my family (wife and 3 children) while not losing them. Unfortunately, Carey does not give us the best example as a husband. I’ve lived in and visited the areas that he lived in and the culture is so extreme from the west the oppression on women is intense. I can only imagine what living there was like in his day. I desire to fulfill that role as husband father 1st while not losing losing sight that the spread of the Gospel is supreme.

    Again, I love the list, but I live intension on that 1 point. Its tough.

    Thanks for posting.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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