Wednesday, May 02, 2007,6:53 PM
Missions vs. Missional
I think I've become too used to the language of the missional church. The language that sees the Kingdom of God present in this world, that sees the good news as being about more than getting one's butt into heaven when we die, and that takes seriously the call to bring freedom to the oppressed. So this past Sunday as I visited the church I grew up in, I wasn't prepared to go back to the old perspective. That of a church doing missions as opposed to being missional.

My first clue should have been that it was the church's missions conference. Missionaries from all around the world had been brought in to report on what they were doing. So the sermon that morning was from an Indian man who runs a Seminary in India. He was there to tell us about the "Divine Strategy for Missions." As he put it - the way missions always has been and the way it always should be. The strategy is apparently composed of a mere four points.

1. Spreading the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - which as he explain is a lot easier in India than America because they allow prayer in schools.

2. Raising support from the believers - this has to come from Americans because indigenous people can't afford to support missions.

3. Engage in social outreach - This is done only to soften people's hearts because "physical help that doesn't result in spiritual help is no help at all."

4. Reach the influential in the community - because finding and using power is the only way to spread Christianity.

During most of his sermon he kept talking about the tiny tiny amount of Christians in India. But then at one point he said something about how Pentecostalism is really popular and spreading fast in India because they focus on healing so much (but that we of course know that the only true healers are doctors who have been gifted by God and trained at medical schools). So besides sounding more like a high modernist atheist than a spiritual Christian, he was drawing lines at who really are Christians. Apparently only those who follow cessationist conservative Evangelicalism are true Christians.

I'm sure there are good things coming out of this mission, I was just saddened at how limited a perspective they have. Serving Christ in a missional way involves so much more than getting people intellectually convinced about the facts of the Gospel. It is so much more organic and contextual than this "divine strategy for missions."

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posted by Julie at 6:53 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


6 Comments:


  • At 5/02/2007 10:39:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

    "physical help that doesn't result in spiritual help is no help at all."

    Sounds like he kind of got what James said a little confused, pretty much backwards actually.

     
  • At 5/03/2007 12:27:00 AM, Anonymous Johnny Brooks

    I am not so sure that any good comes from a mission like this. In fact I have found that Bible colleges, seminaries, or other narrow minded means of teaching have a great hindrance on spreading the kingdom of God.

    The hardest people for me to convince that Jesus wants us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick are those that have been to a Bible school run by a missionary or funded by some church from the U.S.

     
  • At 5/03/2007 10:46:00 AM, Anonymous Rick Meigs

    Oh my, Julie. There is no way I could have sat through such a message. So full of error and misunderstandings that I'm afraid I'd have leave to avoid it ruining my day. There is nothing right about any of this four points. Maybe he should go and talk with some of his Chinese brothers: no prayer in schools, primary support comes from indigenous people, lots of social work (and supernatural healing), and no "finding and using" political power. BUT, the church is growing wildly fast.

    Great post Julie.

     
  • At 5/03/2007 04:32:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Thanks for the comments.

    Johnny - I struggle with this. This group helps rescue orphaned toddlers living in sewage who have maggots in their and gives them a home and treatment. They give the poor education. They take in girls who have escaped illegal widow burning. I might disagree with what they are teaching or their reasons for helping people, but they are helping make some people's lives better. But its sad when one needs to ask if the good outweighs the harm.

    Rick - Its interesting, there were a lot of missionaries to China there for the conference as well. I didn't get to hear what they thought about the sermon (besides that his accent was hard to understand), so I wonder if they follow that same philosophy or not.

     
  • At 5/03/2007 10:33:00 PM, Blogger Michelle Van Loon

    You said, "...(but that we of course know that the only true healers are doctors who have been gifted by God and trained at medical schools). So besides sounding more like a high modernist atheist than a spiritual Christian, he was drawing lines at who really are Christians. Apparently only those who follow cessationist conservative Evangelicalism are true Christians."

    It's funny how even though I'm miles and miles away from this thinking in my life and experience, reading your words gives me a jolt of adrenaline (run or fight?) and a horrible flashback to life in the fundy world. Yipes!

    I am grateful for the ways that God is erasing the bad definitions some in the church have put in their dictionaries for "Go", "Do" and "Be".

     
  • At 7/05/2009 07:34:00 PM, Blogger HazelwoodUSA

    I am glad that Jesus and the disciples were able to bring real healing, and did not not have to go to 12 years of medical school because it is by His stripes that we are healed.

     

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