MF Behind the Scenes
Mongolia and Missiology
Right now, in various places and peoples all across the world, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is surmounting cultural and linguistic differences and transforming the lives of thousands in what we refer to as "people movements to Christ." The example of Mongolia presented in this issue is just one of these people movements. A people movement is where large numbers of individuals move together to come to Christ within an unreached people where there was no self-sustaining church planting movement.
What causes these people movements and what can we do to foster them in every people? This is what the science of "missiology" is all about. Missiologists look at what missionaries have done and how God has worked around the world. From these observations they discover what helps to bring about these people movements and what gets in the way of them.
I encourage you to read the article by RL, starting on page 10, with the eyes of a missiologist. Look for the lessons that were learned and what has helped and what has hindered the Mongol people in coming to Christ. Many of the lessons learned here can be applied with other peoples. Unfortunately, many of the mistakes made in the past are being repeated over and over again because the missionaries from various countries have not been good enough students of missiology. We also tend toward what is easiest and quickest to do, such as inadvertently planting our own culture along with the Gospel, sending money instead of people, doing for them what they should do for themselves and creating dependency in the process. Rather, we should do what is most effective which is making the Gospel indigenous (normal and natural to them, not appearing foreign) so the people take ownership of it. The Gospel then spreads naturally and rapidly along the lines of normal relationships.
The goal of all missionaries should be to make the Gospel indigenous to whatever unreached people they are working with. Learning how to do this is the most important thing a missionary can ever do and also one of the hardest. It is not a simple task easily learned on short-term trips or prayer journeys. These activities have their place, but there is simply no substitute for well-trained long-term career missionaries who will come along-side the people they seek to reach and become their servants and students. The missionary needs to learn the people's culture and learn how to present the Gospel in a culturally relevant, sensitive and meaningful way without bringing in his own. (See the article, "What Color is Jesus?" in the July-October '97 issue. You can retrieve this article from our E-mail conference under the name MF97.07-10.22-Color. See the on-line subscription information at right.)
Zeal and good intentions are not enough. We need missiologically well-trained people who will not have to keep "reinventing the wheel"--making the same mistakes missionaries often make. Whether we are pastors, missionaries or mission supporters, we must all be life-long students of missiology. If not, we will inevitably be supporting the wrong mission efforts while the truly worthy work will go wanting for needed resources. We cannot treat missions like a hobby and assume that we know enough to do a good job. Inadequate knowledge can be very dangerous. A good place for anyone to start is to take the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course. See page 42 for locations. Even if there is not a class near you, anyone can get the Vision for the Nations curriculum and begin the learning process. (See item 226 on the response form and page 28 for more information.) The progress of World Evangelization will be hurt or helped by how well or ill informed we are about the mission God has given to us. We owe it to the Lord to do our educated best for His praise and glory among all peoples.