I will admit up front that the mischievous part of me prompted this blog post, and it is aimed at a different audience than I usually address. I suppose it might even miss the target group.
Over the last five years, I have had the priviloege of participating in the shifting paradigm of IMB of the Southern Baptist convention. Churches have been challenged to engage unengaged people groups and unreached people groups. This, however, should not be confused with a typical once a year random mission trip that resembles a glorified vacation. It is an engagement that requires a church to essentially take on the role of the missionary in a specific location among a specific people group.
As I have traveled, it is not unusual to run into “mission experts” that challenge the concept and say “it will never work.” Yet, it has worked in our case, and recently in completing my Doctor of Ministry at Columbia International University and Seminary I had the opportunity to survey and interview other churches that have also had great success with this approach. (This is on file in the library at C.I.U. in my dissertation entitled, Equipped to Engage: A Study of How SBC Churches Have BeenEquipped to Engage Unreached and Unengaged Unreached People Groups.)
So this morning I was thinking, Paul wasn’t commissioned by a mission board or agency. As far as I know he received little if any cross-cultural training for the task.He was called by God, and set apart by the church in Antioch. I am not sure he fit the bill at all of our concept of a missionary. He was more like an itinerant evangelist in some ways. He traveled from place to place, staying long enough to equip the churches he planted and move on. He stayed longer in Ephesus than anywhere. So did he do it wrong?
There is often debate among missiologists about whether missions should embrace a representational model like Paul, or an incarnational model like Jesus. What if we embrace a Holy Spirit empowered method that recognizes the value of diversity in methodology? With over 3600 people groups still unengaged (have no access to the Gospel), we need to challenge more churches to become more than “mission-minded”. Considering there are more than 42,000 Southern Baptist Churches, and less than 200 that have taken on paradigm of the church serving as the missionary, I think we can do better.