How we talk about missions?

By | 19:12:00 2 comments
Barbara & I were at a meeting a few nights ago in which a missionary was reporting about the work of that particular organization. He started off with a verse and a 2 minute thought about that verse and then proceeded to talk for most of the time about the humanitarian aid and social works of the mission, showing pictures of buildings and many other things, wrapping it up by saying that within all that they do they seek to talk to the unsaved about Christ.
I have noticed a trend in missionary reports that seems to divide the report into seperate sections;
One, which takes up around 90% of the time, being the conversation about what the people are doing, building work, needs of the mission and various practical issues.
And second a 10% or less thought from a passage of scripture, that seems to be an attempt at Christianizing the whole thing.
I realize, even within the mission I work, that it is important to talk 'physical' issues such as paper and machines and finance and needs of people around the world, but surely we can find a more Christ saturated way of talking about missionary organizations by which Christ is shining forth as we talk of His work in building projects, of His work in medical and humanitarian works etc.
I guess when I go to hear of what missionaries are doing I am hoping to hear a Christ centred report of how their efforts in Christ are glorifying Him and reaching out to a lost world in His name, confronting them with the cross.
Whether we talk of printing gospels, smuggling bibles, humanitarian aid, orphanage work, building projects, summer missions or any other aspect of mission work should we not constantly talk of these things in light of, and intermingled with Jesus instead of taping a short thought and verse on the end?

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


Andrew and Carolyn said...

Hi Gary,

Thanks for your helpful thoughts on this issue - I've found it challenging to read through this morning, as my wife and I will soon be moving into missionary work ourselves.

I agree with what you share, and also feel that another component can often be missing. In the generation in which we live, is there not a case for building a Biblical argument and insight into mission when we share about what God is doing? In previous days missionaries could, perhaps, count on a certain level of understanding of what mission is and why we do it. In our generation that may not necessarily be the case, and so there may be an argument for showing people the 'why' of mission from the Bible, as well as the 'what' of mission on the field.

I'm currently reading Christopher J. Wright's 'The Mission of God', published by IVP in 2006. I'm not sure whether I'll agree with all of his arguments by the time the book is finished, but he is certainly making a compelling argument not just for the biblical basis of mission, but the missional basis of the Bible.

Keep up the good work here - really enjoying your blog!!

Gary Boal said...

Thanks bro', useful thought, i've been trying to work on the way I 'report' of Every Home Crusade and will certainly include the "why" of missions in it. That aspect hadn't crossed my mind, but my heart beats completely in time with your comment.
Class to hear you's are moving to missions, we'll certainly be praying for you!