I’m working on a story about churches that are directly involved in overseas mission work. I’m especially focusing on the wave of Baptist churches who are figuring out how to send their members overseas for extended periods of time.
There’s no doubt Baptist churches are finding new and inventive ways of doing mission work. Many of the congregations are doing direct mission work above and beyond the ministry they are doing through traditional Baptist channels. Many of the ministers involved in this kind of mission work say churches are taking back the role of being the missionary-sending agent.
Mike Stroope, who has become a pseudo-spokesman for the new missions landscape, describes the new missions environment this way:
For the past ten years, I have been seriously thinking about and campaigning for the local church’s involvement in the worldwide mission of God. My conviction that the church should take the leading role in missions has not diminished over these years but has only increased as I have studied Scripture and considered the task of missions. Because God’s mission is to reconcile the world to Himself, the church must find its purpose and meaning in this mission. I am convinced more than ever that the local church must be more than a passive observer of this mission; it is meant to be at its frontlines. As the church prepares for mission, sends its people to the nations, and participates directly in the harvest that is to come, it is the church. Because it exists for God’s sending, the church has no option but to center its life and activity in His mission.
And yet, questions about how the local church’s mission activity will look and by what means the church is to go to the nations seem to be the overwhelming concern. I hear pastors and church leaders voice deep conviction that their churches must do missions, but in the end most of them stumble over how it is to be done and by what means. That which we are deeply committed to is left undone because our familiar and convenient mission paths have disappeared. So, we want to do missions, but we don’t know how or by what means. What is needed is a clear mission pathway, a vision of the way forward.
Powerful words. I’m curious about what you think.
What do you think of Stroope’s insight? What are the implications of a missions landscape where the church is the sending agent? Is this landscape the new paradigm for missions? Are Baptists struggling with how to do missions?
I’ll post my story on direct missions later this morning to hopefully encourage more dialogue.