By Mark A. Taylor
Not every missionary expert posting at this site this month agrees with every other posting here.
The point is that more missions work is happening among Christian churches and churches of Christ than ever before, and that’s good.
New churches are being planted cross-culturally. Independent congregations in areas once served only by U.S.-supported missionaries are starting new churches that then send out their own missionaries. Thousands of children are receiving nourishment of body and soul because members of Christian churches are sponsoring them with monthly donations. All this is good.
Missions agencies are led by well-educated experts on mission practice and history. Rank-and-file members of local churches are engaged in cross-cultural evangelism and service, both within our borders and around the globe. (No longer is local-church interest limited to the discussions and decisions of a small, isolated missions committee.) This is good.
Our annual fellowship-wide missions emphasis, just renamed the International Conference on Missions, is a must-attend event for thousands. This is true not only because the numbers of missions-minded church members is increasing, but also because so many teenagers and young adults are there. ICOM is now seen as a fertile recruiting ground for Christian colleges seeking to educate yet another generation of missionaries. The best and the brightest from these schools are deciding to serve cross-culturally as our number of missionaries multiplies faster than we can keep count. This is good.
It is also good when missionary strategists debate the best ways for reaching a lost world. Even if they never agree, they will go after their chosen course with vigor to prove that it will succeed. No one writing in this issue is advocating a strategy that hasn’t seen growing numbers of the lost turning to Jesus. It is far better for missionaries to discuss—even to disagree about—the best way to obey the Great Commission than to sit back in complacent obscurity, satisfied with meager results.
But in spite of all this progress, there’s room to do more. Slum populations are multiplying, many of them with little Christian witness. Poverty-trapped people around the world—including in the cities where we live—long for hope. And right in our own neighborhoods, men and women live without the purpose and peace that come only from Christ.
If this month’s discussion of missionary strategy and activity can move us to reach them, that will be very good indeed.