Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Missiology Page 1 of 8

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to train indigenous workers?

Why do we raise thousands of dollars of monthly support, move ourselves and our families to foreign cities, learn their languages and cultures, and seek to plant churches or establishing disciple-making movements within those cultures?

Because Christ tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. Matt 28:19-20.

But the response we often get from those who have thought about the human and financial resources being expended in this effort:

Wouldn’t it be cheaper and more effective to train and support indigenous believers to reach their own people?

How should you and I respond to this pushback?

Fruit to Harvest: the key is abiding

In October 2017, a major consultation on Muslim ministries was held in Thailand. It was called, “Abide, Bear Fruit“, and was a follow-up consultation to the one held 10 years earlier, also in Thailand. Both conferences were organized by Vision 5:9, “a global mission network focused on ministry among unreached Muslim people groups”.

The 2007 conference had identified 68 fruitful practices in working among Muslim peoples and these practices have significantly impacted missiological strategy for the past decade. The conference also resulted in a well-known book in mission circles, From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices and Emerging Issues among Muslims.  That book, edited by J. Dudley Woodberry, was reviewed by this blog in a post a few years ago.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Book Review: Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine

In his recent book, Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine, Kevin Vanhoozer makes the claim that everyone is a disciple of someone else. Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples Through Scripture and Doctrine by [Vanhoozer, Kevin J.]We all follow someone else’s words or stories. The question is whose words, whose stories are we following. We often follow the stories that provide meaning for our culture. The book identifies as a pastor’s guide but has valuable insights for missionaries. Vanhoozer makes use of Charles Taylor’s (the author of A Secular Age) concept of social imaginary. He explains:

A social imaginary is the picture that frames our everyday beliefs and practices, in particular the “ways people imagine their social existence.” The social imaginary is the nest of background assumptions, often implicit, that lead people to feel things as right or wrong, correct or incorrect. It is another name for root metaphor (or root narrative) that shapes a person’s perception of the world, undergirds one’s worldview, and funds one’s plausibility structure. … Social imaginaries, then, are the metaphors and stories by which we live, the images and narratives that indirectly indoctrinate us. Yes, we have all been indoctrinated: filled with doctrine or teaching. The doctrines we hold, be they philosophical, political, or theological, feel right or wrong, plausible or implausible, based largely on how well they accord with the prevailing social imaginary or world picture. – p.8, 9

Timothy and Titus as Models

In  a previous post we looked at how Paul identified himself as a preacher, apostle, and teacher of the gospel in the Pastoral Epistles. I suggested that today’s missionary identifies with Paul as preacher and teacher of the apostolic gospel. We are not apostles but preach and teach the message of the apostles recorded in Scripture. Timothy and Titus likewise were not apostles but served as coworkers with Paul and in the Pastoral Epistles were delegates of Paul. So we share an affinity with Timothy and Titus as ministers under the authority of the apostles.

THE ROLE OF TIMOTHY AND TITUS

In writing about the role of Timothy and Titus, Andreas Köstenberger notes:

Timothy and Titus are often viewed as pastors of local congregations. However, as mentioned, their role is not actually that of permanent, resident pastor of a church. Rather, these men serve as Paul’s apostolic delegates who are temporarily assigned to their present location in order to deal with particular problems that have arisen in their respective churches and require special attention.

Andreas J. Köstenberger, 2017, Commentary on 1-2 Timothy and Titus, p 8

Missionary Identity according to Paul

The letters to Timothy and Titus are important for understanding Paul’s perspective on missions and his own identity as a missionary. Chaio Ek Ho concludes his article on the Pastoral Epistles:

From our examination of the letters in the PE [Pastoral Epistles], we have seen how these letters articulate an underlying missionary outlook and a theology of mission à la Paul. (Chaio Ek Ho, “Mission in the Pastoral Epistles,” Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles, ed. by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder, 2010, p267.

Photo by Glen Noble on Unsplash

What should we read to learn best practices in church planting?

The Mission Round Table, Volume 13 #2 (May-August 2018) was titled, “To Make the Word of God Fully Known”: The Bible in Mission and the World. In the editorial Walter McConnell wrote:

As in other matters, the Bible should be our final authority regarding mission and the church. Those of us who strive to be reflective practitioners of mission must make it our aim to base our thinking and work on God’s written Word as we present his living Word to the world so that all may have an opportunity to experience his blessings. To do this we must drench ourselves in God’s Word, saturating our thinking and practice with its message. Mission Round Table, vol.13, #2, p 3.

Fulfilling Marketplace Ministry

In my previous post I sketched out the significance of work from a Christian perspective:

  1. Work is part of God’s original design for humanity.
  2.  The Fall brought toil and frustration to work but did not diminish the significance of work.
  3.  Understanding work in the light of our primary and secondary calling enables us to engage in all types of work for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors.

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