A Call for a Mission Renewal Movement
What will it take to multiply the numbers of "heroes on the home front'? How can we hope to translate the initiatives of a Cordon Aeschliman, a Greg Fritz. a Ruth Tucker, or a Rob Malone (see ME, October November 7983) into a sustained renewal movement on the home front that will bear fruit in frontier mission fields.
The following article, condensed from a larger 20page article by the some name, yields some vital clues. Len Bartlotti, notional coordinator for the Frontier Fellowship, here suggests lessons to be learned from five major mission movements in the United States between 7885 and 7920. Len's conclusions are as contemporarily relevant as they are historically rooted. Note in particular how the Frontier Fellowship satisfies the conditions of a comparable mission renewal movement today.
The complete article can be obtained in two ways: as one excellent article among others in the premiere issue of the International Journal of Frontier Missions (January 1984); and as a separate reprint. Both options ore explained in further detail on page 79.
As Western mission agencies retool, as hundreds of Third World agencies harness their vibrant new manpower, and as harbingers of a new student movement raise their voices, the battle cry "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000" has yet to be sounded on a neglected front tine of the mission movements the million, of Christians and churches worldwide who comprise the home base of the mission enterprise. In the spirit of the massive united missionary education campaigns in North America in the early part of this century, is it possible that the time has now come for church and mission leaders to unite in promoting cooperative mission renewal movement embracing the entire home base of the Protestant mission movement and the rebuilding of pioneer mission perepective within it.
United Missionary Campaigns, 1885 1920
In the thirty five year period 1885 1920. at least five major missionary movements arose which provide positive models for us today. These movements mobilized and aroused the passions and resources of a generation of churches and campuses alike for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The Student Volunteer Movement
The first of these, the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, we, officially organized in 1888.
The SVM watchword, "The evangelization of the world in this generation." and pledge. 'It is my purpose, if God permit, to become a foreign missionary." were a call to world Christian discipleship for a generation of Christian students Through 1945. the SVM turned over 20.000 students toward the foreign frontier fields.
But, perhaps just as significantly, over 80.000 pledged SVM'ers, also a part of the "movement", remained at home and became the lawyers, doctors, businessmen whose avowed purpose, in line with their SVM commitment, was to "ensure the strong backing of the missionary enterprise by their advocacy, their gifts and their prayers." They realized that a student movement aimed solely at the "foreign field" could not remain viable any more than a plant could grow and produce fruit apart from a nourished and expanding root system. The passion of those who stay must match that of those who go.
The Missionary Education Movement
In 1902, a similar but more denominationally controlled SVM type movement was founded (by 15 denominational boards, the SVM. and the YMCA), originally celled the young People's Missionary Education Movement. Its purpose was to educate and enlist young people not touched by the SVM. those outside of colleges and universities. In 1911. "Young People's" was dropped from the name. and Its mandate enlarged to Include adults, and home as well as foreign missions. The MEM communicated its mission vision through pamphlets, mission course outlines and study texts, slides, films, educational and inspirational conferences, and served as a clearing house for mission education materials.
The Laymen's Missionary Movement
In November 1906, another powerful auxiliary agency called the Laymen's Missionary Movement sprang into being. Moved by the the inability of the mission boards to financially support the increasing number of students desiring to become missionaries, John B. Sleman and 75 founding laymen developed a proposal for "a campaign of education among laymen to interest them more largely in the cause of missions.' The plan was unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed by a group composed of representatives of all Protestant denominations in North America.
One notes the loyalty and close cooperation between the Movement and missionary agencies and churches. From the very beginning of the LMM, it was clearly understood that the plan was not to send out missionaries or to administer mission funds, but to cooperate in the enlargement of the work carried on by the various churches through their own mission organizations. The LMM had an efficient official liaison with some seventeen denominations, and as much as possible worked through existing denominational staffs and structures.
In Its emphasis upon spiritual resources of faith and prayer, sacrificial giving, mission education, and businesslike financial methods, the Laymen's Missionary Movement was, according to Valentln Rabe's detailed and extensive study, 'the most significant new development during the pre World War I Period" Though student and women's groups had formed in support of foreign missions, the Laymen's Missionary Movement was "the first men's body dedicated to the cause In the hundred year history of the American movement." Nearly one million men had attended some three thousand conferences by the end of the Movement's first decade. As a result of the 1MM'. "investigation, organization, and agitation" for foreign missions, within seven years (between 1906 and 191'4) mission giving in America was quadrupled.
The Men and Religion Forward Movement
The fourth pre World War I missionary education campaign was the Men and Religion Forward Movement of 1910 12. Its concerns, however, were so comprehensive as to include 'every good thing" from labor reform to evangelism, home and foreign missions to an especially strong social message, which was its greatest thrust. With revival like fervor and methods, their whole Gospel for the whole world" message was effectively communicated throughout North America.
Debating the validity of a broad inclusive definition of "mission" is beyond the scope of this article, but the ser lesson for those concerned today about the need for that precisely defined activity called "frontier mission" is alarmingly clear: Though the magnitude and priority of the frontier mission challenge Is apparent and widely embraced by serious church and mission leaders, any broad based mission renewal movement may face intense pressure and temptations to soften a strategically focused mission vision, in favor of a more palatable and saleable generalized mission appeal. The centrifugal force is tremendous.Today of course we are delighted to avoid the home/foreign tension through the distinction between those people groups (at home or abroad) where the church is now 'domestic," and those people groups (at home or abroad) within which there is not yet a viable, internal witness, e.g.. what have been defined as Unreached Peoples, Hidden Peoples or Frontier People.
The Interchurch World Movement
The Interchurch World Movement of 1918 20 was a campaign larger in scope and goals than anything ever attempted before or since. It envisioned a massive united "forward movement" on a worldwide scale, utilizing the combined forces of American Protestantism. 135 representatives of American Protestant mission boards and related agencies inaugurated the movement on December 17, ista.
The plan called for the organization of an lnterchurch World Movement of North America 'to present a unified program of Christian service and to unite the Protestant churches of North America in the performance of their common task, thus making available the values of spiritual power which come from unity and coordinated Christian effort In meeting the unique opportunities of the new era,"
In tine with the trend noted above, the scope of the movement was dangerously broad In comparison with the SVM and the early MEM and 1MM, The ICWM's scope would cover not only foreign missions, but "all those interests ...outside of the local church budget which are naturally related to the missionary enterprise, which of course could be interpreted to Include almost any church-related activity. Organization Included a General Committee of over 135 members, a small executive committee, and a Cabinet on the national level, as well as inter church committees or federations on state and local levels.
The methods of the lnterchurch World Movement are also instructive. Significantly its starting point was 'a thorough united survey of the home and foreign fields of the world for the purpose of securing accurate and complete data as to what ought to be done by the combined churches to meet the needs of the hour, and of at least the next five years." this survey was followed by a thoroughgoing educational publicity campaign to carry the facts of the survey to the entire Protestant church constituency in America and to every mission station where the churches of North America are at work." The campaign was then geared to stimulate the churches to provide the resources of men and money which, on the basis of the surveys, were proved to be necessary to meet the world's needs, culminating in a great united financial drive in the spring of 1920.
Can It Happen Again?
One observation is obvious. Whether the initiative came from the mission boards themselves (MEM, MRFM, ICWM) or from a spontaneous grass roots movement (SVM. LMM), one sees a remarkable conscious and unified commitment to cooperatively mobilize and educate the home churches which formed the essential base for mission outreach Motives included (undralsing but went far beyond it in scope. The strengthening of missionary vision and commitment in the home churches was not a utilitarian venture so much as a vital part of the mission mandate itself.
Can It happen again? Since the collapse of the ICWM no united missionary campaigns of any comparable global vision or national magnitude have arisen. Ralph Winter reminds us, with particular reference to the SVM. that. "II happened then because not only those who went as missionaries, but also those who stayed home had been caught up in a movement and highly educated on missions Those who stayed did not forget those who went .... These things do not just happen. Our implementing agencies must work and pray toward such specific ends before God will bring it to pass."Two points underscore both the need and value of a major organized movement to deal properly with the challenge of reaching "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000".
First, the goal is eminently feasible. With 758 million Bible believing Christians in the world, the thought of 16,750 new mission teams or double that number is quite believable. Each team could have '5,400 backers if all evangelicals were alerted!
Second, the goal is also hopeless without a significant renewal of prayer, education and cooperation to enrich the aspirations of the evangelical community worldwide. Ten year trends. if unchallenged, indicate something like 30,000 Protestant North American missionaries alone retiring within the next decade with only 5.000 replacing them. The estimated 18.000 Third World missionaries represent the firstfruits of an increasingly muscular non Western mission force, but even that strength needs to be more clearly focused on unreached people groups. Right now the frontiers attract only 1% of the world's pastors and missionaries, less than 10% of North America's Protestant missionaries, and 5% of its mission money. To stay as we are is to lose ground, and to miss she challenge of the century.
This brief historical survey of united missionary campaigns provides the background for she Frontier Fellowship an emerging new mission renewal movement focused on the final frontiers of the Gospel. It is a call for a new effort involving intensive national campaigns of prayer, mission education, recruitment, and giving; working along denominational, confessional, geographical and cultural lines, and within every evangelical institution; organized collaboratively and promoted internationally and interdenominationally; end focused specifically on the planting of a viable expression of the Church In the remaining unreached people groups around the world.
An incoming tide lifts all she boats in the harbor. In the same way a mission renewal movement has the power, by God's Spirit, to bring new vision and a silent, mighty lift to every dimension of God's Church, until that Church be established among every people.
"I'lI TOUCH TEN" is a campaign sponsored by the U.S. Center for World Mission and intended to accomplish two goals: to spread missions vision and thereby broaden the base of missions support, and to enlist increasing numbers of $15.95 'Founders" whose gift. will complete the purchase of the Center's campus. Here's how the campaign works: Box coordinators each assume responsibility for the local distribution of 100 packets of brochures, or "invitations to hope.' (100 packets constitute a "Hope Chest.
Each person who receives a packet. In turn, malts these brochures, with handwritten note, In hand addressed envelopes, to ten personal friends. The brochure introduces each reader to the thrilling world of frontier mission, and request. a one time only $15.95 gift for the Center's founding budget. USCWM staff members in Pasadena serve as area coordinator.. available to assist box coordinators and other "vision spreaders" in their respective areas.
Everyone here at the USCWM wishes to express how very grateful we are for every vision spreader doggedly working with us in this campaign by saying Thank you and Praise God!
These next few pages show our latest tally of progress! The amount of response to each "Hope Chest" is indicated to encourage and challenge you coordinators and honorary founders. Notice how much "Touch Ten" work is happening in small towns!
Or... call us at (213) 797 1111 for packets! You may ask for your area coordinator here on staff, whose name is listed beside your area on the tally list which follows.