The IFMA Frontier Declaration
We, the delegates to the 65th annual meeting of the IFMA, recognize the historical objective of our member missions has been that of pioneer church planting evangelism. We declare our renewed determination to penetrate the remaining frontiers of those peoples which represent the final barriers to the completion of the Great Commission.
We acknowledge with deep gratitude the blessing of God on our world wide ministries, and we praise Him for the growing dynamic church, at home and abroad, that is our partner in this task.
Yet, we confess:
- that though we have been challenged repeatedly to mobilize people in specific prayer for specific fields, and though we agreed to the urgency of that challenge, little has been achieved;
- that in many instances we have stayed too long in established ministries when our resources should have been redirected to new frontiers;
- that we have not adequately challenged and trained others to share in pioneer evangelistic outreach;
- that we have failed to prepare sufficient missionaries for the frontier task and to challenge them to a life commitment;
- that we have fallen short as missionary agencies in ministering to home churches in that we often have been more concerned about what we receive without adequate concern about what we can give.
We therefore declare that we will be more attentive to the plaintive cry of a lost world and the compelling mandate for the Glory of God to fill the earth.
Whereas we rejoice in the momentous impact of evangelical missions in most countries of the world, yet we acknowledge that all of the world's peoples have not been reached. We reaffirm, therefore, that our chief and irreplaceable duty is to share the blessing of God with all those peoples, and that we are called anew to prayer, devotion and sacrifice so that we can join with others to complete the remaining task.
To that end we reaffirm our highest strategic priority to be the planting of churches among the remaining peoples by the penetration of those frontiers. We will do this both by sending new forces to new fields arid by conveying new vision in old fields.
We further declare our belief in the primacy of evangelism, yet we humbly desire to follow our Lord by expressing deeds of love and mercy, especially among the poor and oppressed peoples of our world.
We humbly accept renewed responsibility to churches, at home and abroad, to labor with them toward their full involvement in the penetration of the frontiers. We are willing that our methodologies and structures be submitted to the urgent need of new outreach. In this effort our commitment is to nothing less than the accomplishment of our Savior's command to make disciples of all peoples.
Carl Palmer, missions pastor of Los Gatos (California) Christian Church, cited several specific ways boards and churches could Improve recruiting, deputation, and training of candidates. He also called on churches to adopt specific unreached people groups in cooperation with mission agencies.
Ian Hay, general director of SIM International, urged mission leaders to identify the "reachables" among the unreached. He called for specific goals and for balance between nurture and evangelistic ministries. He reminded the delegates that Western missionaries are not the only answer, and therefore the missionaries of overseas churches should also be involved. He proposed a planned moratorium whereby agencies could extricate themselves from completed tasks.
Throughout the week there was mounting concern for the role of prayer in penetrating the frontiers of the lost. Instead of discussing final reports of various strategy groups at the last session, participants gave themselves to prayer for specific unreached people groups.In an interview with Missionary News Service, W. Elwyn Davies, general director of the Bible Christian Union, said that both older mission leaders and young people are showing the greatest response to moving forward. "I've not heard one graybeard being cautious and this is very exciting," he said. At the same time he noted that there are always cautious executives "when it comes to organization and finances." He admitted the need for balance between risk and caution, but he hopes "to see a'little bit of risk taking."
"Venturing on God just doesn't come about by discussion and reading learned papers," Davies said. "There has to be that inner dynamic, which will be ours if we maintain the prayer flow we have seen here."
He said that at the outset of the conference he feared that too much material had been packed into the program, but, he concluded, "the changing of the program, the hours spent in prayer, really met a great and deep response in my heart."
During the conference the Island Missionary Society. (Greensboro, North Carolina), and the U.S. Center for World Mission (Pasadena, California), were welcomed into full and associate IMFA membership, respectively.
With these two additional missions, the IFMA, founded in 1917, has 85 U.s. and Canadian member missions with approximately 11,000 missionaries in at least 112 countries.