Sunday, June 28, 2009

This Week in the Mission Blogosphere

Here's the line-up for this week in the Mission Blogosphere:
  • "Simple Church", not so simple?: The MissioMishmash had a couple of good posts about "Simple Church". This is often a similar concept as organic and house church. There is quite a movement developing around the attempted return to a more New Testament model of church life. This blogger's first post contained a brief description and off-the-cuff analysis of their ideas. The second post was a great simplification of what we often complicate. I encourage you to read them both. I have done quite a bit of reading about house and organic churches. Like this blogger, I see a great amount of New Testament merit to many of their ideas. However, in the process of throwing out the bathwater, they sometimes throw out the baby. They throw out pastors (practically) altogether. They (practically) throw out preaching altogether in church life. However, all must admit, that we have moved to a more business-like model of church life (though we constantly deny this verbally, we affirm it in practice). We often function more like an organization (constantly adding programs and committees) rather than an organism (with the Spirit freely leading through the gifted members). Does there need to be change? Definitely. In my estimation, this blogger offers a good rough evaluation of the Simple Church approach, read it.
  • 5 Common Great Commission Myths: The Network for Strategic Missions hosted an article by another writer about some myths. Here are the 4 myths I thought were most significant: 1. The myth of accidental discipleship (no, it is intentional) 2. Jesus wants converts (wrong, He wants disciples) 3. When I am ready and able, I will start making disciples (do it now, for He is able) 4. Making disciples is great advice (no, it's a command). Oh, if we all (me included) could overcome this type of thinking! Please read this article, and ponder what myths you have held. Are you willing to be obedient to the command today?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Be Back Soon!

I usually post 3-4 times a week. I am not stopping that, but it may be a little slower for the next week. We are planning a move. That process, as you all know, takes up much free time. Don't fret though! In about a week, I should be up and running on my more usual schedule again. Check back frequently.

Here's some of what is planned for the near future:
  • Where, how many, and who are the unreached people groups? What are we doing to reach them? What can we do better?
  • The coming missionary support crisis among Independent Fundamental Baptists (I know I've been talking about this one for a while, but I want accurate numbers to report to you, and I'm still waiting for those to come in.)
  • And much, much more.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Resource: World Map

Need help visualizing the remaining World Mission task? Statistics and words sometimes do not help us to realize the condition of the world as they should. Sometimes pictures can provide a needed supplement to statistics. This is where resources like World Map come in.

The World Mission Atlas Project (MAP) has turned statistical missions data into maps, allowing us to visualize the status of global evangelization. There are several things here that I would like to draw your attention to:
  • Getting Started - On the home page you will find an interactive globe. Just spin it around and click on a region that you want to know more about. Another way to get started exploring their site it to choose a country or region in the drop down bloxes labeled "explore a country. . ." and "explore a region. . ."
  • The World - On this page you will find a valuable map. Under the heading "Downloads" and sub-heading "Global Status of Evangelical Christianity" there are two downloads. They are the same map in different forms (.jpg and .pdf). The .pdf download is large, but allows you to view the document in greater detail. Notice where the least unreached peoples are on the map. Where are we doing the most work? Is there any discrepancy?
  • Nations and Regions - I pointed out under "Getting Started" a couple of ways to find the information you want. Here is an example. Click on Central Asia, either in the "explore a region" drop down box or by clicking (twice) on that region in the interactive map. This will take you to a map of the region. Below the map are three .pdf map downloads. Download these to see how we are doing in the region with evangelization and translation. Now click on Iran back on the Central Asia page. You will see a map of Iran with several relavent .pdf map downloads below it. How can we get the Gospel to this needy nation? Now you can go to the region/country of your choosing.
Any of the maps on this site can be used freely, just be kind enought to credit them as the source ("Map Source:"). Use this resource to better your understanding of what is going on in the world, and what remains to be done. Seek to spread the Gospel where it has yet to be heard!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This Week in the Mission Blogosphere

OK. Here's the line-up for this week in the Mission Blogosphere:
  • Why are we so afraid of NT house churches? On the blog of an IMB missionary, The M Blog, there was some discussion of house churches. His first post provided a description of a house church meeting on his field. This was done in response to some objections to house churches he had seen elsewhere. The second post contained a lengthy email response. Here's my two cents: Some of the objections are legitimate. But the main objection I usually here is that they just won't work in our (U.S.) culture. So we act as though we must have a building before we can have a church. In fact, church planters often say that he "found a church" when he only found a building (I read this recently in the prayer letter of an Asian missionary). In my estimation, our obsession with buildings often strangles new (and old) churches. Think about it, in so many areas we make a concerted effort not to give into cultural trends. But in this area and others we have totally caved to a materialistic, corporate-minded, culture. We say we do this because we believe it is the only way people will come in our culture, though we won't (and shouldn't) put a rock band on the platform for the same reason. I do not think that house churches are the only biblical churches (for there's no command given for it). However, I will say that our discomfort with simple house churches here, opposed with Paul's comfort with them, may be an indication of deeper differences we have with Paul (concerning things like "what is a church, essentially?"). In the U.S. we may be comfortable with churches beginning in homes, but we are not comfortable with them staying in homes. Why? Your answer to that question may reveal a great deal about what you believe a church is.
  • Advise For All Who Want to Make and Impact - Two Mission bloggers gave a few pieces of good advice to all who want to reach others for Christ. One focused on new church planters, while the other was more general. They basically boil down to "focus on the people." Don't be distracted from the people. Study them, not through books as much as getting out among them. Spend time among them. They are more important than your website, a building, etc. Find ways to engage people in your community. Don't shelter yourself from them as we often do: in our cars, in the self checkout at Walmart, on the internet, etc. If you expect to win people to Christ, you must first be where they are. This is an area that I struggle with, but it can be overcome.
  • World News - Are you praying for the world? Do you know what is happening? Iran is in an uproar, which is only being heard through Facebook, Twitter, and other internet means. The elections are being called a farse and many of the people are demanding change, for just a sliver of freedom. Christians in India are also rejoicing over the election of their more secular party and the ousting of the Hindu nationalist party. These regions are strongholds of Satan. Let us remember that there is a world outside our borders, a world where Christians suffer because of their faith. Let us pray according to 1 Tim 2:1-2, that their governments would give them peace, that the Gospel could spread as it ought to.
Until next time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bringing Our Strategies in Line with God's Goals (Part 1)

The Missionary Goal of God is this: His glory expressed in the worship of a maximum number of people from every people group. The question was asked in the last major post, "Will we align our strategy and resource deployment with God's goal?" Another question is immediately begged,
"How do we know exactly who the groups are that God wants reached, so that we can reach them?"
Are they political nations, divided only by geography? Are they smaller and more specific than that? Who are they? Are we ignoring any of them?

It may be (and I believe it is) that we have ignored many people in our Mission work. We have ignored them because we often hold to a faulty understanding of the biblical people groups that God is targeting. This has left thousands of groups, and millions of people, without any real Gospel witness.

Biblically, who are the 'people groups' God is trying to reach, some of whom are being ignored today?

The Language of the Commission

Looking at the 'Commission' first given to Abram (Gen 12:1-3) and then to the church (Matt 28:19-20), God primarily used two (English) words to describe the objects of His Mission: ‘Families’ (Gen 12:3) and ‘Nations’ (Gen 22:18, Matt 28:19). Other corporate terms He used in relation to the division at Babel until the consummation of the Mission include Tongues, Lands, Kindreds, and Peoples (Gen 10:31-32; Rev 5:9, 7:9).

Without going to the original languages (which is not needed in this case), what do these words tell us? The words in isolation do not give us a complete missionary strategy (as some would press us to believe). However, they do point to a reality that impacts God's view of the world and His Mission, and should impact our view of the world and Mission strategy.

There are at least two realities involved.

Reality #1 = God’s Goal: restore the divided

God seeks to reconcile all things to Himself (Col 1:20). This reconciliation is aimed at every individual who is separated from God (2 Pet 3:9). However, at the beginning of the separation in the Garden, the Mission was much ‘simpler’: just one family/people/nation/tongue to reconcile to Himself.

Reality #2 = Man’s Situation: division of peoples

Things didn’t stay that ‘simple’ though, did they? The Mission of God was ‘complicated’ when mankind was divided at Babel by language, ethnicity, and geography. This reality impacted the object of God's Mission. God’s acknowledgment of the new reality is reflected in how He speaks of the objects of His Mission from that time forward (e.g. - as divided peoples).

God desires all to receive the Gospel and worship Him (Reality #1), but these new realities (language, ethnicity, geography, etc.) produced new barriers to the spread of His Good News through His servants. Together, these two realities necessitated a different view of the world and of the Mission.

God overcame the language barrier briefly on the Day of Pentecost. But He usually chooses to overcome the barriers through the less spectacular Spirit-empowered toil and sacrifice of His people. He overcomes geographical division as we traverse great distances at great cost to reach the “scattered” peoples. He overcomes the division of languages as we strive untiringly to learn new tongues. He overcomes the division of ethnicity and culture as we demonstrate Christ-like humility, being sensitive to the ways of a people.

These divisions are realities that have affected the way God deals with the world in His Mission. He now deals with them in their division according to their language, ethnicity, and geography (tongues, nations, lands).

The Answer (finally)

I still haven’t really answered the initial question have I? "How do we know exactly who the groups are that God wants reached, so that we can reach them?"

The answer isn’t found in a complicated study of the Greek and Hebrew words God uses to describe the people groups. The key is in the various forms of division (Which was very important to God after Babel). A biblical people group is any group divided from God because of sin and from others because of language, ethnicity, geography, culture, etc. These all pose significant practical barriers to the spread of God’s Gospel. Because of His passion for people and His glory, He is driven to overcome these.

God wants to be worshipped by all of these groups in their distinctness (Rev 5:9, 7:9), but how can we know a biblical people group when we see one? The answer: any group of people divided from others due to a combination of the above barriers is a distinct biblical people group that God desires for us to target. Let’s call those that have little or no access to the Gospel, Unreached People Groups.

There was a time when we could look at people simply in terms of the country they were from, for there were many entire countries that had no Gospel access and few had been truly penetrated. So, we were called and sent to France, Haiti, China, etc. Eventually, most countries had some significant or growing Gospel witness. However, little attention had been paid to the many distinct people groups within these countries. Today this has resulted in multitudes of unreached people groups, though we have had missionaries in their countries for years. The time for our former country-oriented thinking has largely passed. It is time that we think in smaller units, as God thinks, in people groups. Think in terms of His division of language, ethnicity, geography, etc. Sometimes there are thousands of these distinct people groups in a single country, waiting to be reached for Christ.

Fortunately, we are in a better position than ever to reach these unreached people groups. As there are now few countries which have no significant witness, God has provided the knowledge we need to penetrate the biblical people groups which have not been reached within these countries. This knowledge is now coming through research done by Joshua Project,, and others. We can now align our Mission strategy with the final Missionary Goal of God. We can reach every unreached people group of our generation.

Within the next couple weeks we will see who, where, and how many these people groups are. We will also begin to entertain some strategies to reach them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Resource: Skype and Its Potential for Missions

I love Skype. We use it for all of our calling (in and outbound). It saves us money and has allowed us to do things we wouldn't normally have been able to do (like letting grandma see her grandson regularly via a free video conference). So, I have regularly promoted personal use of Skype.

What excites me even more about Skype is its potential for missions.

What is Skype? I am no expert, but here is my explanation. It is a VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) platform. This allows you to make 'phone' calls over the internet. All you need is an internet connection and the program (which is free to download).

What's the cost? Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls are free anywhere in the world. On top of this, you can purchase a local number and an unlimited calling plan. At the time we purchased all of this (about a year ago) it cost us around $60 . . . . for a year!

On a recent trip to an Asian country, we were able to log on to our Skype account and make and receive U.S. calls as if we were making local calls.

What is the potential benefit to Independent Baptist missions?

Many of our missionaries are already using it. It allows them to call home very affordably (even for free). It also allows home to call them with the same benefits.

That is how it is already being used. This is awesome! However, let's take it to the next level.

It is my experience that neither Independent Baptist missionaries nor IB laypeople are completely satisfied concerning their connection with each other. It isn't uncommon for missionaries to feel disconnected from the ministry of their sending and supporting churches. They can feel as though they are all alone. In some isolated fields, this can bring unnecessary stress and pressure. On the home front, pew-setters often feel they are disconnected from the work their missionaries are doing on the field. It is my conviction that connecting members with their missionaries is a key factor in mobilizing a church for missions. I believe it increases passion, sending, going, giving, caring, and much more. There are many ways in which this connection can be fostered.

Here is one of them:

Imagine a missionary on an isolated field. There aren't any working close by who are of like faith and practice. If it weren't for the connection he is able to maintain with his sending church, he would feel the isolation much more, reducing his overall effectiveness. But his sending church has taken many active steps to avoid this. One of the steps involves the use of Skype. The pastor voice and (when possible) video conferences with the missionary weekly. This allows him a way to affordably and very personally care for the member of his church that is working overseas. In addition to this, once a month the missionary joins the church for a Wednesday service. Part of these special services includes a video interview conducted by the pastor. During this time, the church can see and hear the missionary and vice-versa. There is also time given for some members of the church to ask questions or make comments. This part of the service is closed as the missionary hears and sees the church praying for him. The rest of the service is seen by the missionary on the other side of the planet.

This is a scenario that can be a reality in almost any church. Many already have the equipment they would need to make it possible. The rest could make the worth-while investment. Video conferencing would be possible for any missionary on a field that has high-speed internet access (which includes many fields that you wouldn't normally think of). Voice conferencing usually just requires dial-up access. There are many possibilities. It is not too difficult logistically Be creative.

Disclaimer: Skype to Skype calls are encrypted, and should be perfectly secure. However, Skype is 'closed source', and many have raised concerns over how secure it actually is. It seems to me that it is secure enough to use comfortably even in restricted-access countries (China being a possible exception). Because of Skype's 'closed' nature, it is difficult to be certain though. Right now third-party encryption platforms (such as PGP) are not able to be used with Skype. Again, I do not think it is anything to worry about. Certainly, there are less worries with Skype security than there are with typical emails and even phone calls.

Summary: Is Your Theology of Mission the Same as God's?

You have a ‘theology of Mission’ whether you know it or not. All of your missionary strategies reflect this theology. In fact, much of your life may be a reflection of this theology. It drives your passion (or lack thereof), your motives, strategies, methods, use of money and resources, time usage, etc.

Bob goes to church every time the doors are open. He hears about missions frequently, but doesn’t feel motivated to get involved. In fact, it isn’t any more exciting than the “Feed the Children” type commercials that are always played while he tries to eat.
What’s his problem? A bad theology of Mission. You see, as far as Bob can tell, missions is carried out for man, not God.
Carl would like to be more involved in missions, but it seems much too difficult. Lost people are so hard. The work is too complicated. He doesn’t feel equipped for such a task.
What’s wrong? His theology of Mission is off. He sees the Mission as something he must carry out. It is his Mission instead of God’s. But God is doing the work. He wants to do it through Carl.
Dean is a supporter of missions. One day he goes on the Joshua Project website and is shocked to see that there are still 6,500 people groups that are unreached, with little or no access to the Gospel.
He can’t figure out why, since we’ve been doing this ‘missions thing’ so long. The answer is this: we have been using a defective theology of Mission. Our theology ignored a major goal of God’s Mission: reaching every people group. He wants to obtain worshippers from every group of people, not just a random bunch of people.
These are just a few examples of how our theology of Mission can affect us. Look at your own life now. What kind of theology of Mission does it reflect?

Over the past month I have attempted to lay a theological foundation for our involvement in God’s Mission. I wanted to summarize them here.

Who’s Mission Is It?

The Mission is God’s. It is bigger than individuals and churches. Missions is the movement of God through churches. The church is not reaching out to the nations, as much as God is reaching out through her. What does this do for us? It replaces our passion with His, our resources with His, our vision with His, our power with His, our agenda with His. We are tools. He is the actor.

The Purpose of the Mission of God

Our focus in missions is usually on the people being reached. As important as that is, it is secondary. Our Mission should be the same as God’s. The Mission of God is to get glory to Himself by redeeming to Himself a people out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation who will worship Him in loving obedience throughout eternity. Is seeing God glorified among the nations our primary purpose? If not, our Mission motives are skewed, and our passion will be lacking.

The Object of Mission

Who is God trying to reach? It is more than just a random bunch of people. It is people from every people group. He is trying to reach (through His churches) every person and every people. If we are ignoring whole people groups (as we are) in the pursuit of a random bunch of people, we are forsaking one of the primary objects of God’s Mission (and failing to reach a maximum number of people in the process).

The Mission is God’s, we are mere tools. His Mission is to get glory to Himself by redeeming the maximum number of people from every group of people on the planet. That is God’s theology of Mission. What is yours?

Much of the future of this blog will be an application of these truths.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This Week in the Mission Blogosphere

Three posts and a poem. That is our theme for this week in the Mission blogosphere.
  • How NOT to Drop a Missionary's Support - An Evangelical foreign missionary made some good comments concerning missionary support ethics. It is inevitable that missionaries will lose some support while on the field. This is accepted. However, unacceptable is the way in which support is often dropped. No notice, no call, no explanation, just no more support. The blogger gave 3 reasons why support is sometimes dropped in this manner: Cowardice, Cruelty, and/or Incompetence. What are some rules that should be followed when support has to be dropped? Follow the Golden Rule, give as much advance notice as possible, try to do it when they are back home, give an explanation, investigate to make sure it is a legitimate reason, tell if it is temporary or permanent, continue partnering with them in prayer. Overall it is a helpful post, and worthy of a read.
  • Ten Little Missionaries - The same missionary posted a poem about the missionary call. Its rythm and ryme aren't the greatest, but it is a good poem nevertheless. I am sure that almost all of us know people who match the description of each of the 10 little missionaries.
  • Lay Mission - We all know that today we have developed a 'professionalized' ministry, where only the 'highly trained' and ordained do the work. This is obviously not Christ's plan for His churches. Instead, the plan is for the whole church to be involved in the work of the Mission, the 'professionals' being there to help them in that direction. This week a couple bloggers commented on this theme. One suggested that the work of Mission should be carried out by the whole church (particularly the 'lay members'), with fewer 'professionals' needed. The other posted a quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd Jones asked "Do we manifest the freedom of the New Testament church" with the giftings of all her members mobilized for ministry. "The notion," he said, "of people belonging to the church in order to come to sit down and fold their arms and listen, with just two or three doing everything, is quite foreign to the New Testament, and it seems to me it is foreign to what has always been the characteristic of the church in times of revival and of reawakening." While we certainly would not adhere to all that these two bloggers would suggest of us, there is no doubt that every 'lay' member, the whole church, should be fully engaged in the Mission. The suggestion is toward a reorganization of the way 'professionals' (in churches and mission boards) are used in missions, toward a mobilizing role, rather than doing most of the work.

Posting Here Soon:

Urgent Need: Solutions for the Coming Missionary Support Crisis (I am waiting on some numbers to get in before I post this. It will be a must read for all concerned about our world Mission.)

Mission Resource: Skype (How can it be used to mobilize churches in the Mission? How can it be used to improve local church missionary care and reduce missionary attrition?)

Building a Biblical Mission Strategy (Considering a biblical [i.e. God's] theology of Mission, what should our overall Mission endeavors look like? Where can improvement be made?)

Just click on the 'follow' or 'subscribe' links to the right to be notified when new posts are up.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Object of Mission (Part 2)

In the first post of this discussion, we saw that God doesn't just seek a multitude of individuals, He seeks a variety of individuals from every people group to worship Him (Rev. 5:9, 7:9). The lesson in the previous post was essentially this: Since Babel, God describes the objects of His Mission largely in terms of distinct groups of people who have been separated by Him linguistically, ethnically, and geographically. Therefore, this object should be a major focus of our Mission strategy today.

Before we continue with this people group approach to the Mission, I wanted to offer a little balance to the approach (which I will try to do often).

While I do not want to discourage you from reading his book (all of you should), I do want to draw your attention to a statement made by Charles Keen (whom I have the greatest respect for) in "Thinking Outside the Box." His statement is representative of the beliefs (stated or implied) by many in the movement to reach unreached people groups.
"God's design is diversity. For years many of us have practiced a commitment and desire that the multitudes, or numbers, was the motive. Numbers are not the issue with God. He wants to be worshipped by a diversity of peoples. This may mean less rather than more. He desires some from all tribes, language, and peoples." (pg. 25, emphasis mine)
Biblically, we can say without reservation that God seeks (and will obtain) worship from the diversity of the world's peoples. However, to say that "numbers are not the issue with God" and that "this may mean less rather than more," has no Biblical basis. This is ignoring another significant object of God's Mission, namely, every person.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 (emphasis mine in all verses)

"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim 2:4

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (the context reveals that He is speaking of all the individual whosoever's in the world)
So, the objects of God's Mission are not only every group of people in their diversity, but also every person in his individuality. In other words, God seeks every person among every people.

Brother Keen is correct when he points out that we have long ignored many people groups because of our focus on individuals. However, he is wrong to imply that there is some theological tension between the objects of every individual and every people group. These purposes of God are not mutually exclusive, but inclusive. God purposes that every people group worship Him, and also that a maximum number of individuals worship him. Numbers are the issue with God, as well as diversity (which Brother Keen implies on pg. 15).

The question isn't a theological one (does God want to reach people or peoples?). That is settled in Scripture. The question is a strategic obedience one (will we align our strategy and resource deployment with God's dual goal?). That needs to be settled by us.

So, here is where we are now. The objects of God's Mission are every person and every people. We have long focused merely on individuals, ignoring the diverse peoples who do not yet have the Gospel. We must align our Mission strategy with the Missionary Goal of God: the glory of God expressed in the worship of a maximum amount of people from every group of people.

Discussion toward such a strategy will be posted next week. Till then, browse the unreached peoples on Joshua Project and think of what you could do to reach them.

Resource: Joshua Project

Much of the talk in missions (not among Independent Baptists though) over the last several decades has been about people groups, especially unreached people groups (who they are, how to reach them, etc.). As this discussion has been taking place, several related resources have been developed to help reach them. Perhaps the most well-known and valuable of these resources is Joshua Project.

"Joshua Project is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world
with the least followers of Jesus Christ." They have broken the people in the world up into people groups and have used various criteria to classify them as reached or unreached. The tools that they have available can be used to make our missionary work more strategic, and to ensure that no people groups are ignored. Here are some things that are available to you:
  1. Resource Page - PDF's, Powerpoints, and beyond are available for download on this page. Browse through the downloads, do some reading, and you will find yourself understanding the remaining world task that much better.
  2. Countries - Click a country on the map or choose one from the drop-down list on the upper right to view extensive people group info for each nation. Clicking on the column titles will allow you to arrange the information in the way you wish.
  3. People Selector - By entering the information you want here, you can get a people group table taylored to your specific needs.
There are many other ways to utilize Joshua Project's resources, but these will get you started. This is an amazing strategic resource. The benefit of viewing the world in people groups (as opposed to mere political nations) can hardly be overstated. Joshua Project is sure to be referenced frequently on this blog in the future.

What peoples are unreached? Is anyone trying to reach them? Go to Joshua Project to get an idea. But do note that this doesn't tell you where Independent Fundamental Baptists are working, and who we're reaching. So what are the implications for us?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

This Week in the Mission Blogosphere

This week the Mission Blogophere gave us several interesting posts. In addition to these I wanted to include an old post from the "Voice of the Martyrs" blog that was challenging. So here it goes:
  1. Solving the Southern Baptist missions dilemma (and others?) - One Mission blogger, Grady Bauer, posted a possible solution to the Convention's missions problem. The same day, another blogger, Alan Knox, affirmed Grady's thinking on his own blog. What was the solution? Encourage missionaries to get secular, income-producing jobs. On Alan's site, this caused quite a bit of raucous in the comments. Some accused him of some "personal agenda", an axe to grind, etc. But is it really a bad idea? Not only is it very practical, but it is also very biblical. The greatest church planter in history (Paul) worked for an income almost everywhere he went. I concur that this option should be considered by all missionaries and sought by many (most?). This will be discussed in much more detail on this blog with an up-and-coming series.
  2. The unreached may be more reachable than we think - Justin Long of "The Network for Strategic Missions" posted about the location of unreached peoples. He notes that nearly all (90%) missionaries are working with people groups that already have access to the Gospel, while almost no missionaries (1%) work among unreached people groups. The reason often given is that these groups live in restricted countries. However, Justin pointed out that an enourmous number of these people live in relatively open countries, waiting to be reached. What will we do about them?
  3. If you lost your Bible would it change your life? - This was a question posed by an old post on the "Voice of the Martyrs" blog quite a while back. A persecuted Christian prisoner made this statement: "In prison, the most difficult thing was to live without a Bible." Would it affect you as much?
Should missionaries consider working in a secular field for an income while they are church planting? 

What will we do about those unreached peoples who are reachable?

If you lost your Bible would it change your life?

Three important questions. What will you do?

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Object of Mission (Part 1)

The Mission is God's. He is the One on Mission through His churches. The primary purpose of the Mission is to see God glorified as He ought to be, by everyone. These were covered in two previous posts. I don't think that those are hard for Independent Fundamental Baptists to accept. However, this one may be different for some.

Think of this sentence: God is seeking whom? 'God' is the subject. 'Is reaching' is the verbal part of the sentence. 'Whom'? Who is the object? Who is the person or group that God is primarily trying to reach?

Your answer to this question could have a significant impact on Mission strategy. If the object is a maximum number of individuals, there is a certain strategy needed. However, a different strategy altogether may be needed if the objects are people from every group of people. And we could go on.

Our primary concern is what the Bible says about it. So, let's take a (very brief) look. . . .

Is God concerned with a maximum number of individuals being saved or with people groups being discipled? I think you will see in this series that the answer is both. But the way the Scriptures speak of these may change the way we view Mission strategy.

If you search the Scriptures for God's heart for the world of men and how He views us, you may be surprised at how much He speaks of families, nations, tongues, and people in a collective sense as opposed to people in an individual sense.

A key event in Old Testament history is the tower of Babel incident. "The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (Gen 11:1). After an exhibition of their pride, God chose to confound their language (11:7) and scatter them "upon the face of all the earth" (11:8). Thus are born (by an act of God) the peoples of the earth with their various languages and ethnicities, and eventually cultures.

The very next major event spoken of in Scripture 'sets the tone' for the Mission of God until its closure in Revelation. After all of these distinct peoples have been formed, God demonstrates His love and pursuit of them by separating Abram from them in order to redeem them all to Himself. "In thee," God tells Abram, "shall all families of the earth be blessed" (12:1). In other places God uses words such as "nations" (18:18) and "kindreds" (Acts 3:25) to describe the objects of His Mission through Abram. In essence, God is telling Abram that it is His desire to bring salvation to all of these distinct groups of people that He just made.

When God puts His Mission in the hands of His church, He again uses the same language. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations" (Matt 28:19). Then, when describing the end result of His Mission, God uses these same words,
as His people "sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev 5:9)

and as "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb" and worshipped God (Rev 7:9).
While I will not go into Hebrew and Greek here, or into a complete explanation of all that is revealed (everyone exhale), thus far it is clear that God does seek the distinct groups of people of the earth in their distinctness. He doesn't just seek a multitude of individuals, He seeks a variety of individuals to worship Him. It seems that God largely views the world in terms of peoples in their variety, not just as one large mass of humanity. Therefore, the objects of His Mission are largely described in terms of diverse peoples, rather than mankind as a unified mass.

As churches on Mission, it is clear that we also view the objects of missions in terms of distinct groups. However, these distinct groups are generally defined in terms of geo-political boundaries (the French, the Pakistanis, the Chinese). There are several problems that have arisen because of this focus. One of these problems is theological and another is strategic. Theologically, God clearly views them in smaller units. Strategically, this geo-political view of people has caused us to ignore some people entirely, giving them no access to the Gospel.

For the purpose of this post, you need to realize that since Babel, God describes the objects of His Mission largely in terms of distinct groups of people who have been separated by Him linguistically, ethnically, and geographically.

So, should we just seek to reach a few people from every group or should we seek the maximum number of people, even though we may not reach every group? How does God's view of the world affect our mission and strategy? What are the dangers of a people group focus in missions? These are all questions that I will try to answer in various posts over the next few weeks.

For now, think of this: do you desire for people of every distinct group of people to worship God? Is this evident in how you arrange the affairs of your life?

See Part 2.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Urgent Need: Solution for the Coming Missionary Support Crisis

Coming Soon: Is there a missionary support crisis among Independent Fundamental Baptist churches? What is it? What can be done?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Resource: Valuable Mission Links

It can take quite a while to find what you want on the web. This can be frustrating. I have felt this frustration while attempting to learn about and research missions. In order to help myself and others, I have compiled a list of (what I consider) the most valuable Mission-related sites on the net.

You can download it for free by clicking here.

The links are contained in a table on a pdf document. They have been arranged by general topic and name. In the far right column are brief descriptions of the resources to aid in discerning their usefulness to you. The titles in bold are those that I feel are most valuable. Almost all of the resources are free to access (which was one of my main criteria). You should be able to access all of the sites directly from the pdf document. 

As usual, I feel compelled to add a disclaimer: Very few of these resources are of an Independent Fundamental Baptist persuasion. There are nevertheless useful. Use at your own Holy Ghost-guided discretion. 

I pray that this resource will be useful. Please comment on this post if you have any other online resources that you would recommend. I am constantly searching for more and your imput would be considered valuable. Feel free to distribute, reproduce, or use this document as you wish.

You must have the Acrobat Reader installed to view the document. If you do not, you can download it for free from Adobe