The Mission of Missions

August 30, 2008

While perusing the pages of “Consuming Jesus, which my very perceptive wife gave me for my birthday, I ran across a Chinese poem that I see as summarizing our mission in the Netherlands:

Go to the people

Live among them

Learn from them

Love them

Start with what they know

Build on what they have:

But of the

best leaders

When their task is done

The people will remark

“We have done it ourselves.”

While in Slovenia three summers ago Kate and I were heavily impacted by the ministry of Josiah Venture in the capitol city of Ljubljana.  With a staff of around 6-8 intent on reaching students and thousands of them in the city, we were surprised to find the staff reluctant to “get results”–at least, they are reluctant to get results on their own.

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As I see it, missions is not about getting out there and saving souls.  Let me clarify, before the missions police show up at my door: missions is not only concerned with the saving of souls.  Missions has also to do with the growth and maturation of the Church on a global level.  It is not about sending home high stats–that is missions at its shallowest.  In my opinion, approaching missions in a deep way requires that we do it patiently and in a way which leads the national (or local) church deeper in to ministry rather than supplanting it.

Perhaps, thinking back over our poem, the only thing that remains would be to nuance the final phrase, to make sure the reader leaves room for God in the concluding “We have done it ourselves.”  Whew!  Gives me goosebumps!


One Response to “The Mission of Missions”

  1. Ah, the chinese. So rich in their poetry, history, and Olympic organization. God bless the chinese!

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