Missions: the ugly

The last two post have looked at the good and the bad of missions. Now the ugly!

  • We have friends in India whose best church planters (and their churches) have been “stolen” by Western missionary organizations offering to pay them more money. The lure of money in a very poor culture is often difficult to resist.
  • Some of the most effective communicators of the Gospel we have seen are those who would be misfits within their home culture. Their eccentricities  are accepted when they are in a different culture and they have a boldness and faith that produces spiritual results. However, they are the rarity.  Others who are misfits within their home culture end up on the mission field and produce problems for the rest of the team and/or are ineffective. They should never have gone into cross-cultural missions in the first place.
  • Some of the most committed and willing believers go to the mission field with inadequate training and little/no support from their sending organization. They return home after a few months feeling like failures.

Most missionaries we know are an example to us all. They have literally given up homes and families for the sake of the gospel. They lay down their lives for the sake of those they feel called to reach.

4 replies on “Missions: the ugly”

Raising up native missionaries is the only way to really reach a culture so that it is transformed from within. Bless those foreign missionaries who are able and willing to be assimilated enough to reach and produce the native workers to take their place and plant churches among their own people.

Shortly after embracing the organic church perspective I was introduced to the Didache. This little dissertation on the oral tradition whereby mid-first-century house churches detailed the step-by-step transformation by which gentile converts were to be prepared for full active participation in their assemblies. The instructions in there are very interesting regarding the going out to preach the gospel. I know that we benefit in many ways from the big mission organizations but given the flawed human nature we live with, and having had the experience of working for many years in a non-profit ministry, the temptations are great when there is a steady flow of money. Two by two…take nothing. Where does that fit in? I see that as a big part of relying wholly on God to lead and provide. To become an itinerant and gather financial support for a mission call just doesn’t fit into my understanding of missionary at this point.

Rita, some interesting thoughts. I’d be interested to hear more about what the Didache says about going out to preach the Gospel, although I assume from what you say that they used a Luke 10 type pattern–going out with nothing.
One of the problems of big mission organizations is that the missionaries are seen as rich Westerners who don’t understand the culture.

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