The best kept secret of mission agencies in our day—speaking ever so broadly–is that the mission force is less equipped for service than the people they serve. Instead of thinking about missions as an agency putting into service its crack force to accomplish a mission, the reality is that undertrained people with big hearts are sent abroad to be nice. That may very well be nice, but it is not accomplishing the Church’s mission.
Now, there’s a challenging statement! Rollin Grams has just started what looks as if it will be a hard hitting series on “Issues in Missions Today“. Over the next few weeks, I’m hoping to interact with some of what he says; to highlight some of the issues he raises and to (probably) disagree with some of the things he says. This looks as though it should be an interesting exercise. For the moment, I just want to highlight the themes in Grams’ first substantive post in this series.
- Denominations have, by and large, lost the vision for mission.
- Independent churches cannot hold the vision of mission by themselves—they cannot hold it intelligently, adequately, accurately, efficiently, or appropriately.
- Local churches have lost the vision for mission.
- Most mission agencies have lost the vision of mission.
- Missionaries have little understanding of the mission of the Church and little training to accomplish this mission.
- The approach to financing missions is disconnected to the mission of the Church.
As you can see, he isn’t pulling his punches – now go away and read the whole post.
Let me just make one comment; Gram’s fifth point is (in my experience) very true. Over the last few years one-term mission training courses which include a little bit of cross cultural training, a hint of Bible and a soupçon of theology have become very popular. I’m sure that these courses have their place, but as a way of training career missionaries for long term service, they leave a good deal to be desired. For years, Wycliffe has provided a high level of technical training in disciplines related to translation and language development. However, in the UK, the Wycliffe training courses have recently moved to Redcliffe College in order to integrate them more deeply into a broader Biblical and missiological framework. I’m very excited at what this means for missionary training in the UK.