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 missons 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.

The good and the bad of missions

World map 

Photo credit Stijn Vogels (Creative Commons)

Tony and I have been privileged to travel to various countries in all five continents and to see missions at work first hand.

First the good:

I was brought up, in a Christian sense, on the biographies of those on the mission field. I learned from Hudson Taylor (China), Amy Carmichael (India), James Frazier (Lisuland), Jim Elliott, (Ecuador) Helen Roseveare (Congo), Bruce Olsen (Colombia) and many others. I was inspired and challenged to live a sold-out life, to be willing to give my life for the sake of the Kingdom.

During my early days as a doctor, I had the privilege of working with several senior doctors who had been part of a revival that went on in Rwanda in the 1940s and 50s. They came back to the UK with the unmistakeable fragrance of Jesus on their lives. Their message was one of repentance and living a transparent life. What a privilege to work alongside them.

I know an American lady who has spent years living in the villages of North India. She has seen many hundred churches start and trains many church planters.

Another friend, Michele Perry, runs an orphanage in war-torn Sudan. She is seeing miracles and many are finding the Lord. Whenever I feel discouraged, her life inspires me–she was born with only one leg. What excuse do I have?

This past fall we were in Southern Russia with a lady from the UK who rescues people off the street. Most of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the wars with Chechnya and Georgia. She takes these people in to her center, sees them healed, trained and then sent out to various others parts of the country for the Kingdom.

Most people need no introduction to Rolland and Heidi Baker. Tony and Rolland went to a missionary school in Taiwan together. We have seen their extraordinary work in Mozambique at first hand.

I have learned much from others who have spent years on the mission field. People like Guy Muse,  David Watson, and Curtis Sergeant are profoundly influential.

We in the organic/simple church movement owe a huge debt of gratitude to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptists. Much of what we have learned about church planting movements comes from their teaching and experience.

God is using many men and women to reach out to the nations cross-culturally. They are effective ambassadors of the Kingdom who are seeing much fruit from their work. In some cases, many tens of thousands of people have found the Lord because of their impact. The lives of these missionaries are an example to us all.



Simple/organic church needs simple/organic mission

Photo credit: Abdallah (Creative Commons)

For some time now, I have been pondering the question, "What does it look like for simple/organic churches to get involved in mission?" I'm referring here to the role of what is usually known as "the missionary"–one who is called to leave their own culture and live in another nation, either short or long-term.

Here are some of the questions I have:

  1. How, if at all, are simple/organic churches currently involved in missions?
  2. How could/should their involvement differ from traditional mission work?
  3. What is the most effective church planting training they can receive?
  4. Who are the most effective people to reach unreached people groups?
  5. Are there any mistakes of traditional missions that we can learn from and avoid?
  6. How can this be financed?
  7. How can people be supported in the field?
  8. What language and cross cultural training is needed?

What other questions do you have?