Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Whose task is missionary work?

There are many wonderful missionary organisations all over the world doing wonderful things. We are working fairly closely with Operation Mobilisation as they use our church in Swaziland as one of its training bases. But of course there are many others – many of them focussed on getting youth involved in missions.
In spite of having great appreciation for what these organisations are doing, there is always a bit of sadness when I see the success which many of them have in getting people involved in missions, because I believe that ultimately this should be the task of the church. Without wanting to take anything away from these organisations and without criticising them at all, in a certain sense I see these organisations as something which had to be created once the institutional church failed to do what God expected it to do. This is like using a spare wheel on a motorcar because the real tyre is no longer functioning as it should. One has to be thankful for the availability of the spare, but the real tyre has to be repaired and the spare put back into the boot where it belongs. But to be honest, I cannot foresee that this will happen in the near future. This is not a modern problem – it had been the case for many centuries (with the exception of a few futile attempts by the church to get mission under its control again – often not because they believed that this is what God wanted, but because the church liked to control things). Somehow the church seem unable to understand what God really wants it to do.
I will be first to admit that Christianity would never have expanded so rapidly without many of the mission organisations and therefore it would be childish to criticise what these organisations had done in the past and are still doing at present. These people are doing great work in many countries all over the world. Yet, I still have this uncomfortable feeling that the reason behind these organisations is the disobedience of the institutional church to send out missionaries into the world. The church has many reasons for this: lack of funds, lack of manpower, lack of facilities as some examples. But the mission organisations are doing it. They find funds. They find the people. The motivate the people to come for training and then send them out literally into the whole world and somehow it works.
And the question that keeps nagging at the back of my head is why the church is failing to do this. Is it a lack of faith, a lack of will or a lack of God’s vision that is keeping churches from obeying the great commission?


Monday, July 30, 2007 - Posted by | Mission, Missionary Organisations, Theology


  1. That’s a great point. I never thought of para-Church missions agencies as functioning that way-as a response to the Institutional Church’s lack. I just finished reading a book published by Zondervon called, ” Glocalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage the New Flat Earth” by Bob Roberts Jr. It really has some great new ideas about the Churches responsibility to be transformational. The author believes that Churches shouldn’t necessarily have one or two missionaries that they support. Rather he believes the entire Church, by definition, are missionaries; and that it’s a Pastors responsibility to mobilize the Church members from every profession to engage in glocal (both global and local) ministry with their professions and gifts. It makes some similar points to your old blog post titled “retirement as mission” or “retired or re-tyred?” was trying to discuss. I recommend this reading for more great discussions on this subject. It’s endorsed in the new Christianity Today with an interview with the author.

    Comment by Bryan | Monday, July 30, 2007 | Reply

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Bryan. Having been part of OM you have first-hand knowledge about what I am speaking about. I see Bob Roberts wrote more than one book about Glocalization. The other one’s name is “Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World.” I decided to order both of them and will report back after I’ve read them. They had better be good, because they cost a lot of money 😉

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Monday, July 30, 2007 | Reply

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