This past Sunday I taught on world-wide missions: what is broken and where we are going to begin to focus as a church. You can watch the sermon HERE.
For ten years some things about traditional missions have bothered me
– at least my understanding of tranditional missions. I'm not sure I have the answers, but I struggle with several things. And I'm wide open to being corrected on these issues…
Questions I have about missions…
1) Should we be sending missionaries from the USA to non-English speaking countries if they already have the Gospel, Christians, and local churches?
Can you imagine a church in the US successfully reaching people with the Gospel if the pastors have only learned to speak English a couple of years before? How many of those far from God – who speak English – would they likely reach? It doesn't seem very many. The best people to reach English speaking people are English speaking people. If English is your second language, there will be a language barrier for years, decades, and maybe for life.
So it seems to me – that if a county has Christians and local churches – then they are the best ones to reach their own country. Of course, unreached people groups need missionaries to come in, learn their language, lead people to Christ, start a church, and raise up leaders. But what about the countries that already have believers and churches?
I'm not sure I have heard of raging successes of planting churches by US missionaries. I am sure the stories are out there, but I haven't heard many.
I've been in several countries visiting missionaries who have a higher percentage of believers in their country than we have in Monroe County here in New York.
Is it wrong to go to those countries as missionaries? No, I'm sure it isn't. Is it the best investment of our mission's money? I'm sure it can be. But our focus is going to be toward unreached people groups.
Am I thinking wrongly? What am I missing?
DISCLAIMER: In no way am I discounting ALL missions work or even any missions work. Some of my missionary heroes have been in Brazil for decades and we plan to keep supporting them even though there are many believers there. I love any and all missions work. We are just beginning to think through best strategies for a church attempting to embrace and fulfill the Great Commission.