Thursday, July 20, 2006

Weakness of Intruders

It’s understandable why some churches and individuals want to take ownership of missions. They read about unreached people groups and, rather than working with the national church or career missionaries, make a commitment to do it themselves. I have no problem with people wanting to be personally involved in ministry anywhere in the world. I appreciate the commitment that people have to reaching the unreached with the Gospel. But I do have reservations with some people; I call Intruders, who take on the task of world evangelization simply for those two reasons. Many of these self-appointed missioner’s can cause more harm than good. Why?

Missiologically Inept -- The three components of a missiologist is a thorough knowledge of History (church/country), Theology (biblical/mission) and, Anthropology (cultural/applied). The bane of most of mission work is that few Doers are equipped in these areas, how much less those who have never lived overseas but nevertheless want to own an overseas ministry. Missiological incompetence leads to…

Ministry Ineffectiveness
-- What’s the plan? What’s the goal? What are you trying to do? If the answer is, “I’m just trying to be witness for Jesus,” that’s not a strategy, that’s a slogan. So you want to reach Muslims, how will you do that and with whom, Sunni’s or Shia’s? Going to use the Jesus Film, feed the poor, hold a healing campaign? How about the Hindu, Jain, Sikhs, what’s your strategy in presenting the Gospel to them? What’s the plan for reaching the upper caste in India, the different tribes in Kenya or those who are marginalized in society (such as the eunuchs of Mumbai or the prostitutes of Bangkok)? I give Intruders an A for zeal and an F for understanding how to put a plan together for ministry.

Mission Waste – I met one Intruding pastor in Nairobi last year who said his church in the states has targeted the “harvest fields” of the world for ministry. Setting up Kenya, which is over 80% Christian, he has led his church in the states to give millions of dollars to buy land, build a building, furnish it with the latest sound equipment, etc., so they can have their slice of the harvest. Statistics show that 95% of the resources (people and money) go to the people and countries of the world where there is already a strong witness. The “more bang for the buck” mentality may make for good newsletters and fundraising, but it adds to the waste and doesn’t reach the two billion people that do not have a Gospel witness of any kind.

So what is my ideal of North American involvement in missions? If they are not going to be Doers, how then should they be engaged in world outreach? Next week.