Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mission - Day Two

My college-aged daughter just returned from a six week “mission trip” to Japan with Campus Crusade for Christ. Students in Japan take English classes all of the way through school. Less than 2% of the Japanese people identify themselves as Christians. Most people say that they have no God. The Campus Crusade students went to a private university campus each day to share the good news of Jesus. They developed friendships with the Japanese students and spent hours talking to them about Christ. The Campus Crusade students would host “fun evening gatherings” to get to know more Japanese students. Many Japanese students accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord as a result of the ministry of these college students.

My suspicion is that most people in “Presbyterian pews” have this model as their picture of mission work. However, as I said yesterday, the PCUSA does not have a clear definition of “mission.”

The definition of “Mission (Christian)” in Wikipedia:

“Since the Lausanne Congress of 1974, a widely-accepted definition of a Christian mission has been "to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement." This definition is motivated by theological analyses of the acts required to enhance God's reputation (usually translated as "glory" or "honor"). The definition is claimed to summarize the acts of Jesus' ministry, which is taken as a model for all ministries. The motivation is said to be God's will, plainly stated throughout the Bible, including the Old Testament (see below).

The movement must "plant" (start) churches because the process of forming Godly disciples is necessarily social. "Church" should be understood in the widest sense, as an organization of believers. It is not a building. Many churches start by meeting in houses. Discipling is required to grow the number of believers to the largest extent, and maximize their quality and therefore the acceptability of their worship to God and non-Christians.

"Viable" means that it is self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. This is the famous "three-self" formula invented by Henry Venn of the London Church Missionary Society in the 19th century.

"Indigenous" means that fully native members of the culture have all the needed abilities and accept all the required duties. Only indigenes can fully adapt the Gospel to their culture, maximizing both natural, high-quality worship and the number of people that can be reached in that culture.

It must be a "movement," because special organization is required for the task of planting churches. This movement naturally forms cross-cultural missions, when persons who understand and accept church-planting duties go to people outside their culture, as Christ commanded in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus the cycle repeats.

However, Christian missions can more broadly mean any activity in which Christians are involved for world evangelization.

In addition to theological doctrine, many missionaries promote economic development, literacy, education, health care and orphanages, believing these causes advance the glory of God. Christian doctrines (such as the "Doctrine of Love" professed by many missions) may permit the provision of aid without requiring religious conversion.”

What do you think about the Wikipedia definition of Christian mission?


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