God Directed Deviations

Christianity, Culture, God's Kingdom, Missiology, Mission, Missions

Are the Jewish, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers, and Non-Religious ‘Unreached?’

unreached_points_worldAccording to the Joshua Project, the world has 7,000+ unreached people groups. ‘Unreached,’ according to them, are groups that “lack enough followers of Christ and resources to evangelize their own people.”

Is it right for Christian mission organizations to classify the Jewish, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the New Ager, and the self-proclaimed Non-Religious as ‘unreached?’

Blogging, Christianity, Culture, Mission, Philosophy

The Language of Conquest and Colonialism in Missions

world_war_ii_soviet_flag_in_berlin_drawing_by_beefcakepantyhose-d667g4uIt is essential, in my view, to abandon altogether the talk of “redeeming the culture,” “advancing the Kingdom,” “building the Kingdom,” “transforming the world,” “reclaiming the culture,” “reforming the culture,” and “changing the world.”  Christians need to leave such language behind them because it carries too much weight.  It implies conquest, take-over, or dominion, which in my view is precisely what God does not call us to pursue. ~ James Davidson Hunter, To Change the World.

Is Mr. Hunter correct?  Use the comment section below.

Christianity, Discipleship, Evangelism, Evangelists, God's Kingdom, Gospel, Ministry, The Gospel, Theology

Mission, The Work of an Evangelist, and Going Beyond Soul Winning

bowling-strike-black-and-whitefree-bowling-clip-art-is-a-strike-4qecpwhoThe evangelist is less easy to identify in the New Testament, because almost everyone did the work of evangelism. Philip is the only one actually called an “evangelist” (Acts 21:8)  It often perplexes me how easily evangelism is reduced to ‘soul winning.’ The term “evangelist” comes from the Greek and means “one who announces good news.” The word evangelist occurs only three times in the New Testament:

Philip is called an evangelist in (Acts 21:8).

Among God’s gifts to the churches were evangelists (Eph. 4:11).

Timothy is urged to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5).

The word ‘evangelist,’ is even applied to God;

The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”

And the Lord;

“On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him.

The Apostle Paul charged Timothy to;

“Preach the word/logos/message of the new covenant. Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)  Now, either these are separate from ‘the work of an evangelist,’ or are part of it.  I’d venture to say that there are those components and much more. 

 

So, besides soul-winning, what else is these in ‘the work of an evangelist?’ 

 

 

 

 

 

Christianity, Culture, Evangelism, Making Disciples, Mission, Missions, The Gospel

She’s Been ‘Saved’ 4 Times by 4 Mission Teams in 4 Years.

silhouette-woman-profileI see her walking around town, in stores, and taking her children to school. I’ve even seen her in church a couple of times. I often wonder “what her angle is,” but I think she’s all too well aware of what she’s doing.

It’s the mission teams that I worry about. I often wonder if they’re likewise well aware of what they’re doing. We don’t ‘facilitate’ mission teams anymore, but instead offer our service when they come. Not ‘service’ in any sort of formal capacity, but more like serving along side of them as they serve people.

I love when teams come inclined to discover and do the Lord’s will in the spur of the moment. I don’t like it so much when they come without having done their homework, with an attitude that they’re going to save the world, or are so intent on delivering their rehearsed programmatic message that they fail to see and listen to people.

Our small town has been ‘evangelized’ numerous times by foreigners as well as locals. The woman I mentioned earlier has little or no interest in listening to local Christians who consistently deliver the good news and live accordingly, but is always in the midst of short-term missions team when they come around.

After all, they bring good stuff for free. All she has to do is listen and act interested for a time to reap whatever benefit she perceives possible. After the team goes, after they’ve put her name on their registry, after she’s prayed that prayer, and after she ‘confessed Jesus is Lord,’ she likewise goes back to the same life she’s lived before unaffected by, or possibly, even inoculated to the Gospel.

I can’t always be with every team member from ever short-term missions trip, but I do like to roam amongst their divided up groups and watch them work. I have arrived too late on the scene 3 times with this particular woman only to see her being coached into praying a prayer and receive ‘salvation.’ I have personally witnessed her being ‘saved’ at least 4 times.

What am I supposed to do? Should I interrupt the evangelizers and explain the situation?  Should I call her out in public? I didn’t do either of those in these instances because I thought it would be unfruitful and maybe even a harmful endeavor. Should I counsel with this lady and those like her not to take advantage of visiting missionaries like that? That too seems unproductive, controlling, and disheartening.

I once asked a congregation to stand up. I then said “If you have ‘accepted Christ’ only once, sit down.” About half the congregation sat. I then said, “If you have ‘accepted Christ’ twice, then sit down.” About half of those sat. Three, Four, Five times… the same results. After I got to 6, there was one woman still standing. I asked her “Dear one, how many times have you ‘accepted Christ?’ She stood a bit taller, smiled, and proudly said “SEVEN!”

It’s not their fault. At least not initially. It’s the way we’ve been conditioned to get results, get them saved, and ‘get our money’s worth’ on mission trips. In truth, it saddens me when I see the same scenario played out over and over. I think to myself, “Surely mission teams will grow out of these sorts of silliness,” only to see it happen over and over.  I’ve even seen the same set of people respond to the same mission teams over  and over.  Everyone just seems to pretend that they’re not the same people or even worse convince themselves to the contrary.

 

What would you do or say to the woman who has prayed to receive Christ 4 times with 4 teams in 4 years?

~

How would you counsel a missions team to avoid these sorts of scenarios?

Blogging, Christianity, Church Planting, Culture, Discipleship, Making Disciples, Missiology, Mission, Missional, Philosophy, The Gospel

Missional vs. Missionary Movements – Which Will Prevail?

hitchhikerHugh Halter once said;

“We should get rid of the term ‘missional’ and use something more on the lines of ‘missionary-ish’ to get people to think more about being missionaries in their neighborhoods as a ‘better’ definition of ‘missional’.”

He also said;

“Just stop using the term (Missional). It’s too vague and too many people use it for their own agenda. Instead, use ‘missionary-ish’ when talking to your churches. People don’t get missional but they do get missionaries. We’ve been sending out missionaries for so long they like that term. Teach them to be ‘missionary-ish’ and do the things missionaries do.”

When ‘missional’ thinking, action, and vocabulary started gaining some ground, I used to hear some in the missional movement say something like this;

“We need to look at those cross-cultural missionaries ‘over there’ and do what they do ‘over here’ in our own contexts.”

Sounded like good advice then, but now it seems that they are at odds with one another or at least a bit of uneasy tension.  I recently attended a conference of missionaries from all over the world and was inspired by the fervor amongst them.  I’d venture to guess that only a handful of them had ever heard of the term ‘missional,’ or have embraced ‘the movement’ as such.  To be certain though, they had a solid and historic desire to exegete culture, learn native languages, preach the good news, and be living examples of the gospel in their diverse contexts.

I had the most wonderful conversation with a humble Ecuadorian who is serving in Asian countries amongst Muslims.  That’s Missionary-ish!  I thought of all those who are staying in their own neighborhoods trying to wrap their heads around some inflated notion of post-modernity and this young lady who had trans-cultured multiple hurdles to serve in the most contrary of contexts.

Admittedly, I might just be a bit bias being a missionary in a foreign context, but from the perspective of one who has spent much time in ‘both camps,’ I see the missional movement winding down, unable to sustain itself, and the missionary movement picking up steam.  But to be fair, and unless I’m too harsh on my missional brothers and sisters, I also see a feedback loop of sorts coming out of the missional movement right back to traditional missionaries as if matter was being converted to energy and back to matter again.  If I was ignorant of the vocabulary and missional speak, it’s likely that I would never have noticed it.  It might be argued that the best of early missional thinking came from missionaries like the Anglican missionary to India Lesslie Newbigin, but I believe that missional and missionary reflect each other like an infinity mirror.

One, and I stress ‘one’ of the reasons I think the missional movement is winding down is because of a disproportionate view of the making of disciples.  The accent of the Great Commission is being placed on the ‘as you go’ make disciples interpretation and application.  I believe the best translation of beginning of the command is ‘go, and while you’re going’ make disciples. The imperative can not be sliced off and left to itself.  ‘Staying’ with an attitude of sent-ness doesn’t appear to be as effective as actually going.  Further, one must ask; “Where are the disciples that are being made?” In my contact with numerous missionaries serving in diverse cultures across the globe, I hear encouraging stories of disciples being made.  In my contact with many ‘missional’ folks, not so much.

Another reason which I’ll develop in a follow-up post, is that I believe the missional movement is becoming primarily an attractional,  ‘come and see’ movement, rather than a missional, a ‘go and be’ movement, and that’s odd because missional momentum gained traction in opposition to the attractional model.

One might assume that I am not understanding the breadth of the missional conversation.  But I propose that missionary action will always be more convincing than missional conversation.

 

A few questions:

From your point of view, is the missional movement winding down? What makes you think so?

Is it too early to measure the success of missional thinking? Are the disciples coming?

Will the traditional missionary movement prevail? Why do you believe so?