Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Missions

Here is a new quote to ponder:

"When everything is mission, nothing is mission." -Stephen Neill

"When you aim at everything, you hit nothing."

The thinking behind this quote is that there is substantial confusion in the church at large, even perhaps world wide about what exactly constitutes "missions." Presently, the current drumbeat is that everyone is a missionary and any place is a mission field: work, school, neighbors, random people, etc. The problem with this thinking is it leaves out the complexities and dynamics of socio-cultural differences between peoples and nations. It also undercuts the role of the cross-cultural missionary working amongst un-reached people groups by equating their efforts to reach the lost with the efforts of an average worker to reach a lost co-worker, as if the mission and efforts are exactly the same. The truth is, it is not. They are not the same. The difference lies in the socio-cultural gap between reached and unreached peoples. The problem also lies in the degrees of "lostness." Theologically speaking all who are lost are equally lost, but in practical terms someone who is lost in America is less lost than someone in, say, Malaysia where there are few if any Christians available to communicate with him or her, the Christian gospel. They do not have equal access to the gospel message or to those who live it.

According to Alan Johnson, the J Phillip Hogan professor of world missions at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and other missiologists - true missions is the effort to take the gospel to "the regions beyond" where there is little or no gospel witness among the people. A sad fact is the majority of our missionaries appointed by AGWM, who do important and needed work, may not in fact be missionaries since they work primarily where the Church is already established. They are really partnering with the national church in evangelism and discipleship efforts. 90% of our efforts go to the established church, and the other 10% to the unreached millions. Should this not be the other way around? Can this be called "missions"? Apparently it is a debatable point. What say you?

1 Comments:

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Brian, I left a reply to your comment, but I'll leave it here too, since it relates to your post and your comment on my site:

Have you read Kostenberger and O'Brien's book Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: a biblical theology of mission?

I haven't read it yet, but it looks really good.

 

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