This is an article from the May-June 2012 issue: Celebrating 200 Years of Mission Society Sending

Two Hundred Years of Pursuing God’s Heart for All Peoples

Two Hundred Years of Pursuing God’s Heart for All Peoples

With this special bicentennial issue of MF we celebrate not only 200 years of mission society sending of missionaries, but also the efforts by thousands of missionaries over the centuries who have worked tirelessly to discover the strategies and methods that God uses to establish and grow his Church in every tribe and tongue. 

It is easy for us in our time to look back and think that we have learned so much and we are doing things so much better than they did “way back when.” But this process of learning from our mistakes is not a straight line of progress. In many ways we still have a lot to learn from the pioneer leaders in missions, such as William Carey or Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson, who developed the idea of establishing indigenous churches that are self-supporting, self-governing and self-reproducing. We still struggle today to implement the great thinking of these pioneers from long ago. Even when we identify mistakes that we have made in the past, we still struggle not to fall back into them, and while the majority of missionaries may have learned from some past mistakes, there will always be those newcomers who never got the message that the methods they are employing today have continually failed over the last 200 years. In our efforts to grow Christ’s kingdom we manage to make new mistakes that our forefathers in the faith may never have envisioned. MF seeks to keep these setbacks from happening as much as possible by letting you know in each issue what others are learning and discovering about what God uses to grow His kingdom quickly and effectively.

Even with this uneven record of progress, we must never lose heart in striving to improve what we are doing and to discover God’s ways of establishing and growing His kingdom. In this spirit, we present a number of respected leaders who give us their insights into what we have learned and the mistakes we have made in more recent times.

We start off on page 18 with an article written by Ralph Winter in 2007 in which he gives his own insightful overview of the mistakes the Western Church has made in the hope that others will learn from them and not repeat them. Other leaders give us their insights starting on page 22.  Robby Butler provides some of the most important strategic insights in this issue in his article starting on page 25. If we do not learn how to turn the average believer into a disciple-maker, it will be very difficult indeed to bring access to the gospel to every person. We will talk more about this in an upcoming issue.


Prayer is a major offensive wepaon in our arsenal.  I don’t know about changing’ God’s mind.  That is biblical- God literally changed his mind in reaction to Moses’ prayer.  I hate open theism with a great hate so we will assume some kind of middle ground here.  God invites us to pray to Him.  Some have said he does nothing but in answer to prayer- not quite true but a good Kingdom principle none the less.  Here’s my thing on the more’ issue.  We are at war.  The troops are arranged by the Lord of Hosts.  He gives us each different gifts and insights into who He is and what He is up to.  He purposely makes us dependent on each other.  I need lots of people praying for me, my family, and the work He has us about because different people will pray in different ways as they each have their own understanding of what He is up to.  It is more than just getting 100 people on board so that at least two will actually pray’.  It is the King getting the resources needed for the battle lined up.  The charge goes forward.  The enemy is stymied because he is hemmed in by the focused attention that the King himself has orchestrated.  Someone asks for health, another for opportunities to share, another for protection against temptation and sin, another for the veils to be lifted from the eyes of those we serve. You get the idea.  When we fail to live this way we see well we see what we too often see.  Good initiatives fail.  People whom we were sure had a key role to play get sick and go home.  Key friends turn apostate.  Love grows cold.  We need a lot of folks to play their parts if we are going to take a stronghold such as Middle Earth, or Western Europe or home town USA.  Now you guys can attack me for sounding too much like Peter Wagner but honestly, I don’t read him. I believe what I just lined out is found in Jesus’ parables, in Paul’s letters, and in my and your experiences.  Let’s keep challenging each other to pray faithfully.  Our ministries, our families, and our lives depend on it.

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