What do missionaries do?
- What are the concepts shaping world mission outreach today?
- Alert missionaries will avoid being paternalistic. They will stay away from creating
dependency on foreign money and, with an eye to infinite reproducibility, will instead foster
what used to be called "the three selfs"
- Good contextualization of the Gospel will often include the use of redemptive
- Ten times more senders than goers are needed to support world missionary work.
What do missionaries do? How do they go about fulfilling Christ's Great Commission? What
are the key themes shaping world missions efforts today? What ideas are being talked about by
people involved in global missionary strategy and practice?
Check out these brief (500 words or less) articles or reflections on themes relevant
to global missions. Those themes include focusing on the mission, proper motivation, unreached
people groups, looking for receptive people, contextualization, developing indigenous churches,
avoiding dependency, collaboration, sustainability, leadership development, the ministry of being
a sender, culture shock, effects of globalization, cultural responses to wrong-doing, and
recognizing spiritual forces. These articles were published as a series for a monthly column in
Engage magazine, an online missions magazine of Nazarene Missions International
- Three selfs: Necessary qualities for local churches -- In the late
1800s missiologists Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson began talking about three characteristics a
church-planting movement would have if it were truly indigenous: Self-supporting,
self-governing, and self-propagating.
- The evils of dependency -- In world evangelism efforts, there
can sometimes be too much foreign money given to specific ministries or projects. Financial
dependency on foreign money can actually hurt rather than help a local ministry.
analogies-- Missionaries noticed a people group's peace-making practice was strangely
similar to God's gift of His Son, and used this "redemptive analogy" to explain the gospel.
- Sodality: Strange word, important concept -- Historically, the
Church has done its best ends-of-the-earth outreach when there were groups of people within it
passionately devoted to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
- "Where the Church is not yet" -- The term "unreached
people groups" has been around for a while. Now, global mission strategists are talking about
some of those unreached people groups being "unengaged people groups." While some
unreached people groups have missionary organizations evangelizing among them, unengaged
people groups currently have no evangelists or missionaries working in their midst.
- Contextualization -- When Christianity moves from one
culture to another, there is danger that it will be thought of as belonging in the first culture, but
very much out of place in the second one. The solution to that is good contextualization.
- Infinitely reproducible -- Paul Orjala, pioneer Nazarene
missionary to Haiti, urged future missionaries to use infinitely reproducible as one criterion for
assessing patterns of evangelism and church planting. He felt the key to actually fulfilling the
Great Commission was to use structures and modes of organizing and developing that could be
reproduced over and over again. (More on Paul Orjala)
- Be a sender -- More global missionaries are needed. However,
ten times or more as many supporters are needed to send and sustain them. Being a sender is just
as important as being a go-er.
- Mission fit -- Missionaries must focus on ministry activities that
"fit" their mission. On the local, district, regional and global levels, we must be prayerfully
asking: Is what we are doing and how we are doing it consistent with the objective of making
Christlike disciples in the nations?
- Globalization -- sometimes defined as a flow of ideas, goods,
images, and people across national borders -- is not a new phenomenon. It can be seen as early as
the book of Genesis. God's people must find a way to share His love among the shifting tides
of globalization today. Indeed, the church itself is an active agent in globalization.
- 10/40 Window explanation and map -- Luis Bush called
attention to an area of the globe where there are large concentrations of unreached people
groups. With just 10 percent of the current global Christian missionary force deployed to that
area where many of the world's least-evangelized people groups live, we have much work to
- Excluded middle or expanded middle? -- Westerners
often go to one of two extremes in dealing with evil spiritual forces. Either they
exclude the possibility that such forces exist or they see them everywhere and in everything.
- Paternalism: Helping or hurting? -- Christians visiting churches
in other countries too often assume, even unconsciously, the attitude of a kindly but overbearing
- Culture Shock -- Missionaries and others living for extended
periods of time in a culture not their own experience a roller coaster of feelings of alienation,
anxiety, disorientation, and uneasiness.
- Motivation -- Over time, many of us lose our urgency for God's
mission to reach those who don't yet know Him. What can we do to stir the embers of our
concern for the lost into a healthy fire?
- Missionary -- A plea to look at the word "missionary" in the light
of Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4
- Cultural responses to wrongdoing -- Knowing how a culture
responds to wrongdoing will enable the Church to more powerfully proclaim the Gospel to the
people of that culture
- Comity or collaboration -- Do we have an "empire" mentality or
do we work in a collaborative mode?
- Fostering sustainability -- Global missions outreach efforts need
to be carried out with an eye toward long-term sustainability and viability.
- Leadership training -- Given that the people in churches are
diverse, the ways in which leaders are trained need to be diverse and flexible
Several key concepts have shaped today's worldwide mission outreach efforts in positive
ways. Great strides are being made toward fulfilling Christ's Great Commission to make disciples
of all nations. To continue moving forward, we must rekindle the motivation of believers to be
involved obeying the Great Commission. We must embrace roles for missionaries that are
based on biblical principles.
-- Howard Culbertson,
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