Bible and Mission Links 38

Some interesting stuff, some encouraging stuff and some downright disturbing stuff. A roundup of things that have caught my eye over the last month or two.

It’s taken me a while to get round to posting these links and it could be that you’ve already seen them all, but hopefully there will be something of interest.

Mission Agencies

This uncomfortable article lists five ways in which mission agencies (and missionaries) stretch the truth.

I was recently walking by the exhibitors at a major conference with a missionary friend from the Middle East. One exhibit told of the significant church planting work in the city my friend lived in. He turned to me and said, “I know the missionaries in the city, and they are not doing anything close to what is being reported over there.”

This tendency is illustrated by two articles, one of which examines a controversial (and flawed) approach to Bible translation, while the second examines the way in which the approach is promoted. This post picks up on a similar theme investigating what it calls missional narcicism.

What makes Christianity different is Jesus, not the uniqueness of any local church, so boasting about your group’s special awesomeness is simply inconsistent with the historic spread of Christianity around world and is unnecessary.

I’m sorry if this is turning out to be a rather depressing post, but this important article on abuse of children by missionaries needs to be taken on board. The history of this issue in other parts of the church seems to indicate that once allegations start to emerge, they multiply rapidly. It is not something we can afford to ignore. On a similar theme, this story of the deaths of a number of Ugandan babies due to a missionary who pretended to have medical qualifications is harrowing.

I think it is vitally important that we face up to some of these difficult issues, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the important work of world mission. This article for pastors looks at ways in which they can connect with missionaries.

Missionaries remind us what really matters. When I spend time with young families starting their missionary service or long-termers who’ve served for years, I’m reminded how silly some of our church and denominational squabbles are. The world needs the gospel.

Bible and Theology

I’ve been wanting to write about impact of Matthew 24:14 on missionary strategy for years, but to be honest, I’m not really qualified. I was really pleased to see an article that covers this subject in the latest issue of Themelios. I’d be a happy man, if I’d written Can We Hasten the Parousia? An Examination of Matt 24:14 and Its Implications for Missional Practice. On the subject of the Parousia (delayed or hastened) this book review is very thought provoking – I might need to buy the book.

The book focuses particularly closely on this issue (from the blurb): How did a group of charismatic, apocalyptic Jewish missionaries, working to prepare their world for the impending realization of God’s promises to Israel, end up inaugurating a movement that would grow into the gentile church? Committed to Jesus’s prophecy—“The Kingdom of God is at hand!”—they were, in their own eyes, history’s last generation. But in history’s eyes, they became the first Christians.

On the subject of book reviews, this list of the top ten (it lists 15) books on on Paul published in the last five years might interest some people. I’ve read two of them and in an ideal world, I’d have read a lot more.

This article by Ian Paul takes a hard look at the Pentecost story in Luke; it should be of interest to anyone involved in mission or Bible translation.

Although he clearly sees Pentecost as foundational, and the Spirit as central to Christian experience, he is not offering us a programmatic account of Christian experience.

Mission and the World Church

There is a lot of good thinking about the need to contextualise our Christian witness in this article on the decline of Christendom in Canada.

Today, roughly about 7 percent of Canadians go to church. This means we must lead the church out into the community in a new way, and introduce ourselves as people, as a real possibility. That’s what I mean by a de-centered church. We’ve got to get out instead of waiting for people to come in.

If this is the case in Canada, how much more so in the UK where only 5% of the population go to church?

The previous article looks at the decline in Christendom, while this excellent discussion, involving one of my favourite authors on mission, John Flett, questions the validity of Christendom as a context. Make yourself a coffee and settle down to be challenged.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short list of reasons why we should be aware of the church in the Middle East.

Christianity in the Middle East is not ancient history. It is a living faith with vastly diverse church traditions.

This list of 8 ways in which the global church is different to the American church has some interesting stuff, but it makes the basic mistake of lumping all of the glorious diversity of the church into two categories; American and non-American. This ethnocentric approach is one that Brits adopt, too, and we need to work hard to avoid it. Thankfully, the article ends on a very positive note.

I bump into litabny fairly often on Twitter and I was challenged by his application of Andrew Walls’ thoughts to church planting in the UK:

Walls identifies something so crucial for our Conservative Evangelical churches in our big cities and out of town estates.  That God in His sovereignty moves his church to cross cultures and change in the process. What a wonderful thing if English Conservative Evangelicalism could crossover in particular places, from white middle class culture to something different? That our church plants are no longer replicas culturally, socially, ethnically etc of the churches who planted them, and of the dominant culture of groupings/networks.

Simon Cozens posted some interesting thoughts on near-neighbour strategies for evangelism, which fit niely with the previous article. While this article considers how awkward it is for people to be the objects of the Great Comission.

I love this story of an Ethiopian missionary this story about a young Japanese researcher working on her mother tongue is fascinating (and surprising) – I highlighted something of her work a few years back in this post.


Apparently the world’s langauges can be traced back to a single African language. Having an interest in military history and world mission, this article was bound to catch my attention.

This tendency to over-engineer ministry also makes it harder to multiply ministry. If we make evangelism over-complex and intellectual, requiring lengthy training, then it is no wonder that we fail to produce confident church members who can speak simply to others about Jesus.