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.