What is the Cutting Edge of Missions?
Recently, a missions "expert" was giving advice to a pastor.
"Your missions program is good," he said, "but it is rather traditional. You are no longer on the cutting edge." He went on to say that traditional churches support long-term missionaries, while cutting-edge churches support nationals.
The internationalization of modern missions is indeed one of the most exciting movements of our day. This movement however, has a long history, and it didn't just happen in a vacuum. It is the Spirit-led fulfillment of the goals and prayers of agencies like SIM that have consciously fostered the formation of national church leadership and missionary societies in the non-Western world. Since the earliest days of cross-cultural ministry SIM has been committed to planting churches that would be equipped to fulfill Christ's Commission.
God has used the efforts of traditional missions in such a way that today the total number (and perhaps the spiritual vitality) of the non-Western church outstrip those of the West. Because of God's blessings, traditional missionaries have been effective beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
I would like to suggest that the cutting edge of missionary strategy is still long-term missionaries working together with national churches to win the rest of the world. As we work in joyful partnership, we model the unity that God intended for His Church, and we become more effective in the task of worldwide evangelism.
God's call to go must continue to be answered in every culture and era. If that call is ever diluted to simply "Send money," we will lose our sense of God's heart for the world. Our missionary vision will be reduced to fundraising and mission tours. Of course we need to help national churches to fund their ministries. But we need to help responsibly, without creating an unhealthy dependence that robs churches of initiative and ownership in their missionary outreach.
Sent ones from every culture working together in loving fellowship worldwide form the most powerful strategy in missions.
The cutting edge of world evangelism hasn't changed in the past 2,000 years!
Reprinted by permission from issue #77 of SIMNOW.