5 Myths about Missions

This text is a part of the 5 Myths collection.

Some Misguided Reflections

Hudson Taylor, the nineteenth-century missionary to China, died on June 3, 1905. He was a mannequin of gospel devotion and private sacrifice. He was daring, pushed, gospel-focused and persevering. But at occasions he was additionally perceived as autocratic, impulsive, distracted, and harsh—a reminder that even as soon as redeemed we’re nonetheless imperfect, all of us. Nonetheless, his perseverance and faithfulness have had a huge effect on evangelical mission for the previous century. So it ought to come as no shock that a number of myths about missions have been fueled, at the very least partially, by misguided reflections on Hudson Taylor’s personal advanced and noteworthy life as a younger, ambitions, culturally contextualized, gifted, and impartial missionary. So listed here are 5 myths about missions to think about and, I hope, rethink.

Fable #1: Missions is just for the younger.

Hudson Taylor sailed for China on the age of twenty-one. Whereas that may be a bit younger to many, I really feel protected asserting that the majority Westerners as we speak suppose that keen younger folks make one of the best missionaries. If not twenty-one years outdated, at the very least the twenties or thirties are one of the best years to go to the nations. In spite of everything, older individuals are too set of their methods. They aren’t versatile. And so they need to spend time {golfing} or spoiling grandkids after which be in mattress by 9:30 p.m.

The primary drawback with this fantasy is that it’s a fantasy. Sure, rigid, self-focused folks don’t make excellent missionaries. I’ve met some missionaries of their forties and sixties which are sadly like that, and I’ve met many of their twenties and thirties which are equally unqualified.

The query isn’t age, however what makes a superb missionary in an individual of any age. Maturity, humility, deep Bible data, discipling expertise, stability, confirmed perseverance, demonstrated instructing items, willingness to sacrifice and plenty of knowledge. Who does that sound prefer to you? Sure, there are younger individuals who could have these qualities or will develop into them over time. Reward God for them! I simply need to level out that there are additionally some clever, seasoned older saints who’ve these qualities, too.

It’s been my expertise that if we encourage and assist these mature saints to be despatched out with the gospel to exhausting locations, the fruit could be astounding. And in most of the identical nations which are expelling youthful missionaries, there are particular incentive packages to encourage older folks to come back reside (and spend their cash) in these nations. Malaysia’s “Malaysia My Second Home” program to draw immigrants over 50+ is only one instance. With out discouraging any youthful saints, simply remember the fact that seasoned, senior saints have quite a bit to supply, too. And because the world modifications and visas are tougher to get for younger folks, a little bit gray hair (or lack of hair) could also be simply the ticket to long-term visas and missionary alternatives. Missions aren’t just for the younger!

Fable #2: The purpose of our missions is a motion.

Most missionaries lengthy to affect a nation like Hudson Taylor did China, however that good ambition can morph into the parable that we should always particularly intention for an enormous people-group motion, nothing much less. By this I imply we are able to begin to count on our missionary strategies to end in a fast-moving, exponential unfold of the gospel—typically with a concurrent tendency to discard any strategies that don’t promise this sort of speedy fruit.

Motion discuss appears to be all over the place in missions as we speak. Folks advocate for Church Planting Actions (CPM) outlined as “a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment.”1 and Disciple Making Actions (DMM) the place the native church is basically discarded altogether and changed by self-led bible examine teams that educate members to recruit and kind different Bible examine teams in order that “eventually, each group member will go out and start their own group, then each of those members will start their own groups, and the cycle continues, multiplying the number of disciples exponentially.”2

At occasions, all of it sounds extra like community advertising than biblical Christianity. However is missions actually simply an effort to recruit an increasing number of individuals who recruit an increasing number of folks till Jesus returns to bless the pyramid?

I notice few would describe their work so openly. However I believe a big a part of missionaries despatched out from Western nations as we speak would say that their primary intention is to catalyze a mass people-group motion of 1 kind or one other. By and huge, these motion missionaries are good folks. They love Jesus and are busy, dedicated staff. They actually suppose aiming particularly at mass actions is one of the simplest ways to “finish the task” of the Nice Fee. They’re additionally among the many most disillusioned, discouraged, beaten-down, and burned-out missionaries I’ve ever encountered. It’s not exhausting to see why.

They’ve purchased right into a fantasy and hung their hopes and expectations squarely on one thing that God explicitly says isn’t theirs to handle and management: the speed and dimension of the harvest (1 Corinthians 3:6). The issue is Matthew 28:18 doesn’t say “Go into all the world and catalyze mass people-group movements, teaching them to train other trainers with simple replicable strategies, and lo I am with you always, until the spontaneous and exponential growth of the movement sweeps through the people group and ushers in the end of the age.”

As a substitute, we’re commanded to remodel the world by the extra humble and easy work of faithfully and patiently making disciples. And by instructing these disciples, within the context of native church buildings, to change into absolutely mature followers of Christ. (Matt. 28:18–20; Heb. 10:24–25). I get that this doesn’t have the glamor of speaking a couple of mass motion.

However the place in God’s Phrase are we instructed to solely intention for inventing the following Google or Fb? We’re merely instructed to do the work of the ministry as God’s described it and go away the result to him. Then, even once we sleep, we belief that he’s at work to carry the harvest at his appointed time (Mark 4:26–29). Make no mistake, that sort of affected person faithfulness isn’t straightforward. It typically challenges our belief and mortifies our fleshly ambitions. Missions in Scripture is tough, typically gradual work. It takes nice endurance and requires cautious Bible instructing (2 Tim. 4:1–2). One author has described actual biblical missions as “blistering,gospel hoe-work.” However the fruit, when it does come, is definitely actual, and lasting, and breathtakingly stunning. And since it’s seen to be God’s work that brings the harvest, not our cool catalytic strategies, he will get all of the glory.

Fable #3: Contextualizing the message is the important thing.

Contextualization is one other space the place the lifetime of Hudson Taylor is typically used as an argument for issues I doubt he would help. On this case, the parable is that contextualizing the gospel message is the important thing for world missionary advance. It’s true that Hudson Taylor advocated contextualization, of a form. He realized the language, adopted Chinese language costume, realized their literature and modeled many cultural norms at a time different missionaries did few of those. And it’s true that what he did was each controversial and fruitful. However right here is the kicker. Taylor’s contextualization was about tradition, not theology.

Missionaries must excel however within the gloriously strange fruits of maturity and Christian faithfulness.

As others have famous, behind his ponytail and Chinese language gown, by his Chinese language speech and cultural allusions, he preached the identical, often-offensive, biblical message that each one different trustworthy missionaries preached. His contextualization was for the sake of readability, not for his listener’s consolation, and the offense he needed to keep away from was useless cultural offense, whereas proudly embracing the offense of the cross.

Taylor understood, I believe, that the important thing was gospel readability. That appears to me a fairly far cry from the makes an attempt to contextualize the gospel message or different biblical teachings that some advocate as we speak. Actually, we need to converse in a fashion that individuals can perceive and we need to keep away from offending them with our manners lengthy earlier than we get to the gospel. However we should always by no means discover ourselves making an attempt to easy out the tough edges of the gospel–downplaying sin, avoiding discuss of repentance, side-stepping Jesus as God’s divine Son, reshaping the church, or baptism, or substitution language all to suit cultural tastes. This turns our want for contextualization into full-blown compromise. A lot knowledge and counsel is required!

On the finish of the day, we want to withstand the error of pondering that we are able to ever repackage Christianity in such a means that it’s at house in any fallen tradition. Contextualization isn’t the important thing. That’s a fantasy. Trustworthy and clear proclamation of the gospel from God’s Phrase is the important thing and with it the gathering of saints into native church buildings. That’s the solely key, all over the place and in each tradition, and it at all times will likely be.

Fable #4: Missions is just for super-Christians.

Off all of the myths about missions, this can be essentially the most well-intentioned one. However regardless of the extraordinary items of some missionary heroes, like Hudson Taylor, the actual fact stays that missions isn’t just for super-Christians. Sure, I agree that we should always have excessive requirements for these we’d ship as missionaries.

As I have a look at the pages of the New Testomony, I see folks with deep theological data and confirmed histories of trustworthy fruitfulness being despatched: Paul, Barnabas, and so forth. Sure, there’s a spot for the keen and inexperienced too: John Mark, for instance. However the total sample within the Bible is to ship our greatest folks to steer out in missions.

But, with that mentioned, it doesn’t imply that the mission wants extraordinary abilities, slightly we should always ship women and men who stand out for his or her strange maturity and faithfulness. In my function as a neighborhood church pastor, I encounter this confusion typically. A church member comes to speak to me about what it takes to arrange to be a missionary. I believe they typically count on me to record a whole lot of uncommon issues. However what I virtually at all times inform them is that this: Research the Bible and labor exhausting to be an particularly trustworthy church member.

I need our church to ship out women and men who stand out in seemingly strange issues like biblical data, knowledge and discernment, various relationships, intentional hospitality, evangelistic initiative, church faithfulness and discipling perseverance and fruit. Give me somebody like that—with a couple of different issues tossed in like the power to be taught one other language—and that strange Christian life transplanted to a different tradition can yield a wealthy harvest of gospel fruit. Missionaries must excel however within the gloriously strange fruits of maturity and Christian faithfulness.

Fable #5: The native church simply pays and prays for missions.

Lastly, I’m stunned how typically I encounter church buildings, missionaries, and sending companies that appear to consider that native church buildings are solely accountable to fund and pray for missionaries, however that the actual work of missions is for others. Maybe the fruit of largely impartial missionaries, like Hudson Taylor, has fueled that misunderstanding. However that, too, is solely a fantasy. Scripture is evident. It’s not merely by people or mission organizations, however by “the church” that the sin-confounding energy and knowledge of God’s gospel plan will likely be seen by the entire universe (Ephesians 3:10).

The native church is, in a way, each the means and the top of missions. It’s the Bible’s solely plan and methodology for worldwide gospel enlargement and the consequence for which our missionary efforts intention. Sure, prayer for missions is the church’s pleasure and responsibility (Eph. 6:19, Col. 4:3) and help for church-sent missionaries is its privilege and accountability (Three John 6–8). And but, there may be nonetheless way more.

The native church is the first missionary coach, equipper, and pastoral supporter. Actually, it may be good to have somebody arrange church help for missionaries and to help them—that’s what good sending organizations do. However we should always by no means delegate away the discipling, discerning, sending and supporting function of the native church. And we should always always remember that the top imaginative and prescient of most missionary efforts must be establishing extra wholesome native church buildings that plant different wholesome church buildings till Christ returns.

There are a whole lot of myths which have grown up about missions. A few of them are most likely fueled by an admirable, if misguided, sense of humility or urgency. Others appear to merely replicate our Western dependancy to something that guarantees to be sooner, larger, simpler, or cheaper. However every one, if left uncorrected, will seemingly have a tendency towards a weakening of biblical missionary labor and a reliance on our personal knowledge and strategies. Might God clear our minds, dispel our cherished myths, and renew our biblical imaginative and prescient by the readability of his phrase. And should we work to depend on God’s knowledge, not our intelligent methods, going ahead. Put one other means, we should always all bear in mind:

God makes use of males who’re weak and feeble sufficient to lean on him. —J. Hudson Taylor

1. https://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/10-church-planting-movement-faqs
2. https://teamexpansion.org/dmm/

Standard Articles in This Sequence