What do missionaries do?
- What are some key concepts shaping world mission outreach today? What are the current
trends in missionary work? What issues are missionaries facing 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 issues 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 issues 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
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
- "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 a 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
- 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 do.
- 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
- Paternalism: Helping or hurting?
-- Christians visiting churches in other countries too often assume, even unconsciously, the
attitude of a kindly but overbearing parent.
- Culture Shock -- Missionaries and
others living cross-culturally for extended periods of time 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
- Leadership training -- Given that
the people in churches are diverse, the ways in which leaders are trained need to be diverse and
Several key concepts have shaped today's worldwide mission outreach efforts. 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 in obeying the Great Commission. The roles missionaires are expected to play must be
based on biblical principles.
-- Howard Culbertson,
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