Important Quotes on Missiology
If you wish to contribute any additional quotes to this list, please e-mail Gailyn Van Rheenen.
Choose a topic:
- “Old churches must not simply stand as monuments to the past but as spiritual grandparents that have invested in the future by passing on their life to others and releasing their offspring to form new congregations. Church planting needs to be given priority by old-line denominations.” — (Eddie Gibbs, Church Next, 2000, 73).
- “Whenever Christians have joined together to establish teaching, worshiping, and caring communities, they have been able to meet the unique challenges they faced from the surrounding culture.” — (Ryken 2003, 30).
- “Mission is ‘the mother of theology’.” — (Martin Kähler . Schriften zur Christologie und Mission. 1971, 190; trans. David Bosch)
- “All true theology is, by definition, missionary theology, for it has as its object the study of the ways of a God who is by nature missionary and a foundational text written by and for missionaries. Mission as a discipline is not, then, the roof of a building that completes the whole structure, already constructed by blocks that stand on their own, but both the foundation and the mortar in the joints, which cements together everything else. Theology should not be pursued as a set of isolated disciplines. It assumes a model of cross-cultural communication, for its subject matter both stands over against culture and relates closely to it. Therefore, it must be interdisciplinary and interactive.” — (Andrew Kirk, The Mission of Theology and Theology as Mission. 1997, 50).
- Mission [is] understood as being derived from the very nature of God. It [is] thus put in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity, not of ecclesiology or soteriology. The classical doctrine of the missio Dei as God the Father sending the Son, and God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit [is] expanded to include yet another “movement”: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sending the church into the world.” (David Bosch, Transforming Mission: paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission.
Maryknoll, N.Y.:Orbis, 1991, 390.)
- “All church planters [and all evangelists] operate within theological frameworks, but often these are assumed rather than articulated and adopted uncritically rather than as the result of reflection. Theological principles may influence strategy and practice less than unexamined tradition or innovative methodology . . . . An inadequate theological basis will not necessarily hinder short-term growth, or result in widespread heresy among newly planted churches. But it will limit the long-term impact of church planting, and may result in dangerous distortions in the way in which the mission of the church is understood. Church planting is not an end in itself, but one aspect of the mission of God which churches are privileged to participate” (Stuart Murray, Church Planting: Laying Foundations, 2001, 39).
- “Too often we choose a few themes and from there build a simplistic theology rather than look at the profound theological motifs that flow through the whole of Scripture. Equally disturbing to the foundations of mission is the dangerous potential of shifting from God and his work to the emphasis on what we can do for God by our own knowledge and efforts. We become captive to a modern secular worldview in which human control and technique replace divine leading and human obedience as the basis of mission” (Paul Hiebert, “De-theologizing missiology: A response.” Trinity World Forum, Fall, 1993, 4).
- “Unfortunately, evangelicals in mission still tend to proceed as though their major problems are methodological. They are not. They are theological. It would be to their everlasting credit if evangelicals would devote themselves, their organizations and their conferences to frequent and thorough studies of the Christian mission as set forth in the biblical text. By its very nature, biblical mission entails clear biblical priorities. When we set agendas in accordance with human preferences and
interests, the idea that we either have, or obey, a Great Commission is belied. When we redefine mission so as to encompass anything and everything the church and believers actually do, or even ought to do, we surrender the distinctive priorities of the Christian mission and risk assignment of the word to the terminological dustbin. Rather than setting still newer agendas as some are already doing, evangelicals should first set the boundaries of evangelical mission.” — (David J. Hesselgrave, Evangelical Mission in 2001 and Beyond–Who Will set the Agenda?” Pre-publication of TWF article, email attachment, April 5, 2001).
- “Mission was, in the early stages, more than a mere function; it was a fundamental expression of the life of the church. The beginnings of a missionary theology are therefore also the beginnings of Christian theology as such.” (Heinrich Kasting. Die Anfange der urchristlichen Mission. 1969:127; trans. David Bosch).
- “Mission’s own discipline, missiology, has developed into a major branch of scholarship and research. It is a discipline integrated with all the theological areas. It must, of necessity, build on biblical foundations and foster a missional biblical theology. It must continue the historical analysis charted out by Latourette. It must approach all of the major doctrines in terms of their relevance to the church’s mission. It must address the pastoral tasks of ministry, and move into the discussion among the practical-theological disciplines and the social and behavioral sciences. Thus, missiology can be seen from two overlapping perspectives: as the ‘systematic consideration of the nature of Christian mission,’ and as ‘the whole range of studies appropriate to the understanding of mission, its context and practical application.’ Even if it is still a marginal discipline to some Western theologians and theological institutions, missiology as nonetheless ‘arrived.'” (Guder 2000, The Continuing Conversion of the Church, pp. 22-23).
- Mission, or missiology, is a somewhat marginalized discipline, taught usually as one of the subjects in practical theology. There is little curricular evidence that “mission is the mother of theology.” — Martin, Kahler, Schriften zu Christologie und Mission (1908; repr.Munich: Chr.Kaiser, 1971), 190, as quoted in Bosch, Transforming Mission, 16. Referenced in Guder, Missional Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998: 7).
- “Incarnation means that God enables divinity to embody humanity. Christians, like Jesus, are God’s incarnations, God’s temples, tabernacling in human flesh (John 1:14; Phil. 2:3-8). Christians, spiritually transformed into the image of God, carry out God’s ministry in God’s way. Frequently incarnationalists relate to seekers from other world religions personally and empathetically (as Jesus taught Nicodemus). Sometimes, however, they declare God’s social concerns by shaking up the status quo and “cleaning out the temple.” The end result of incarnation in a non-Christian world is always some form of crucifixion. (Gailyn Van Rheenen, Engaging Trends in Missions, 2004).
- “Jesus did not come into this world and live His life on a mountaintop isolated from human suffering. He walked among us, ate with us, and shared in our humanity. He did not heal lepers form a distance, but touched them into wholeness. He pressed His disciples and prayed fro them to be in the world but not of the world. The focus of their three years together was not the salvation of the Twelve, but their ministry to the entire planet.” (Erwin McManus. Uprising A Revolution of the Soul, 2003, p. 111).
- “The early church apologetic may be rightly called an ‘incarnational apology.’ The church is the continuation of the incarnation. It is the earthed reality of the presence of Jesus in and to the world. Herein lies the ancient apologetic. The church by its very existence is a witness to the presence of God in history (Eph. 3:10). There is only one actual incarnation of God and that is in Jesus Christ, but the church, being his body, sustains an incarnational dimension. The church is a witness to the presence of Jesus in the world as it embodies and lives out its faith” (Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, Baker, 2002, p. 95).
“Prayer should never be understood primarily in terms of power but rather as relating to God who is the source of all power. The difference between the two is significant. If prayer is understood as power, Christians will readily seek power words or rituals rather than personally relating to a sovereign God and waiting for him to act in his own time. Likewise, these understandings help us comprehend the nature of spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is not about fighting Satan; he has been defeated by the triumphal resurrection of Jesus Christ. Spiritual warfare rather is standing firm in Christ’s mighty power. It is accepting God’s victory through Christ by faith and allowing God’s redemptive power to work through Christ.” (Van Rheenen, “Power, Theology of,” Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, 2000:776-778)
“Phelan speaks for the younger evangelical when he writes, ‘Theological and biblical thought must be lively, controversial, relevant and alive. . . . We should not be
afraid to question, to push, to challenge.’ Theological education that is nothing more than information boxed in by a modern statement of faith will not attract, engage, or hold the minds and hearts of the new postmodern generation of evangelicals.” (In Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, Baker, 2002, p. 168)
“The problem with modernity is that it has separated theology from practice. All the early church theologians were pastors. As time went on, theology and ministry
became two disciplines that lost their relationship with each other. The goal of Christian education in our postmodern setting is to return these two disciplines to the unity they truly enjoy and to recover the salutary impact of good theology. The younger evangelical craves this unity between theology and practice knowing that in theology one finds wisd’om for the practice of ministry and that all good practice is embodied in good theology.” (Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, Baker, 2002, p. 169)
“‘… the marks of the postmodern worldview include a shift from knowledge to experience, from classroom learning to living-room learning, from belief in doctrine to belief in dialogue, from informational teaching to mentored learning, from answers to right relationships, from the single leader to teams, and from church loyalty to distrust of institutional religion. In the face of all these new realities pastors must be skilled and prepared to be authentic, real, believable, relational leaders’.” (Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, Baker, 2002, p. 169-70)
“Rodin reports, ‘The time has come to re-create seminary education in order to meet the needs of a church in a rapidly changing society.’ These changes include ‘relevance, agility, dynamism, transformational leadership, global and cross-cultural engagement, adult learning pedagogy, technology in the classroom, interdisciplinary team teaching, mentoring, reflection/praxis learning methods, core competencies, intensive internships, spiritual and character formation, assessments with teeth, agenda-setting courses, and contexualization’.” (In Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, Baker, 2002, p. 170)
“While our educational institutions are rising in intellectual stature, they are decreasing in influence. The problem lies with the perpetuation of an Enlightenment
agenda in a postmodern world. Administrators, clergy, and scholars need to recognize that education in the seminary and in the church should be
more than the accumulation of information and knowledge. True education forms character, wisdom, spiritual sensitivity, and servanthood
leadership. True education is not only knowledge but knowledge embodied and lived out individually and in community. The mission of
the church in education is not to provide factual information that is memorized but wisdom that forms character and is embodied in a life.”
(Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, Baker, 2002, p. 171)
- “During the 19th and 20th centuries, theologians sought to prove Christianity, to enshrine it as the queen of the sciences, or at
least to give a rational foundation for believing God and the Christian way of life. People more generally accept Christianity today because they touch and taste its essence in living community. The most significant theological issue during the 21st century has
become the relationship between Christianity and the other world religions.” — (Van Rheenen, Engaging Trends in Missions,
- “You hear it a thousand times and more growing up in the East–“We all come through different routes and end up in the same place.” But I say to you, God is not a place or an experience or a feeling. Pluralistic cultures are beguiled by the cosmetically courteous idea that sincerity or privilege of birth is all that counts and that truth is subject to the beholder. In no other discipline of life can one be so naive as to claim inherited belief or insistent belief as the sole determiner of truth. Why, then, do we make the catastrophic error of thinking that all religions are right and that it does not matter whether the claims they make are objectively true? All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life’s purpose.Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known ones. Every religions is at its core exclusive.” (Ravi Zacharias in Jesus Among Other Gods 2000, 6-7).
- “Worship is standing on our tiptoes to see the kingdom” (Leonard Allen, Theology for Church Planting Lab, Mission Alive, Mar. 9, 2005
Morality and Religion
- “One of the most distinct phenomena of the Modern, Enlightenment world is how religion is disconnected from morality. It is assumed that one can be moral without a moral God. I have been reading Zavi Zacharias’ apologetic work Jesus Among Other Gods each day as I work out. Zacharias, a Hindu convert to Christianity, writes that it is very difficult to have morality apart from God. In his discussion of evil, he writes, “If evil exists, then one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law?” (2000, 112). (Personal Reflection by Gailyn Van Rheenen)
“There has always been a spirit of prayer and intercession associated with spiritual awakening, both in Scripture and in history. Revival is preceded
by prayer, birthed through intercession, and sustained by fervent, persevering prayer. Prayer is the central living element to every spiritual awakening and every moving of the Holy Spirit” (Frank Damazio, Seasons of Revival, Portland: BT Publishing, 1996:363)
Reflection on devotional communities: “Most missionary teams are not communities, but teams. The focus of most teams is to work. On
the other hand, traditional communities in the church are by definition primarily committed to relational caring, worship and a devotional
pattern.” — (Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor (Monrovia, CA: MARC,
“Christianity had never been more itself, more consistent with Jesus and more evidently en route to its own future, than in the launching of the
world mission.” — (Ben Meyer. The Early Christians: Their World Mission and Self-Discovery. 1986:206).
“The gospel is never about everybody else; it is always about you, about me. The gospel is never truth in general; it’s always a truth in specific.
The gospel is never a commentary on ideas or cultures or conditions; it’s always about actual persons, actual pains, actual troubles, actual sin;
you, me; who you are and what you’ve done; who I am and what I’ve done.” — (Eugene Peterson. Leap Over the Wall: Earthly Spirituality for
Everyday Christians. 1997:185)
Gospel and Culture
“Identifying the gospel is both simple and challenging. No culture-free expression of the gospel exists, nor could it. The church’s message, the gospel, is inevitability articulated in linguistic and cultural forms particular to its own place and time. Thus a rehearing of the gospel can be vulnerable to the ‘gospels’ that we may be to read back into the New Testament renderings of it. The first tellings of the gospel in Scripture themselves have richly varied quality. They are as culturally particular as our own. Nevertheless, they are the root narrative of God’s action in Jesus Christ for the salvation of the work, and as such the church’s originating message. It is of the essence of the church to root itself in what those first tellings portray of the
character, actions and purposes of God” (George R. Huntsburger, Missional Church 1998, 87).
“The Gospel is the story of God, told from His perspective, to His glory. Only God is bigger than the Gospel. At first it sounds like a foolish paradoxical mystery. And so we try to make it sound more believable and sane. It is not. The Gospel in neither rational nor irrational, but trans-rational (Webber, The Younger Evangelicals 2002, 91).”
“The gospel always comes to people in cultural robes. There is no such thing as a ‘pure’ gospel, isolated from culture”– (David J. Bosch. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. 1991:297)
“The New Testament writers were not scholars who had the leisure to research the evidence before they put pen to paper. Rather, they wrote in
the context of an ’emergency situation’, of a church which, because of its missionary encounter with the world, was forced to theologize” — (Martin
Kähler  1971:189)
“The gospels…are to be viewed not as writings produced by an historical impulse but as expressions of an ardent faith, written with the purpose of
commending Jesus Christ to the Mediterranean world” — (Fiorenza 1976:20)
“Western Church has made the mistake of girding the Eastern David in Saul’s armor and putting Saul’s sword into his hands” — (J. Merle Davis.
New Buildings on Old Foundations: A Handbook on Stabilizing the Younger churches in Their Environment. 1947:108)
“A mission which becomes a commercial concern may end by ceasing to be a mission” — (Stephen Neill)
“The experience of European churches suggests that the synthesis between Christianity and the Enlightenment, which was inherent in much of the
missionary thrust of the last century, is not sustainable forever.” — (Lesslie Newbigin, 1993, p. 4 in “Preface.” In Toward the 21st Century in Christian Mission, ed. James M. Phillips and Robert T. Coote, 1-6. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
“Postmodernism has become infamous for its supposed rejection of absolute truth. The postmodern reaction, however, has not been against absolute truth as much as it has been against the way it has been manipulated. The Church employed absolute truth to defend its message against modernity–against Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ or Nietzsche’s ‘God is dead,’ for instance. But Christians unknowingly succumbed. They allowed modernity to
choose the battlefield. ‘If we can provide rational, scientific proof for our beliefs,” Christians concluded, “we can refute the liberals and win!” To keep fighting on that field of battle is to never reach the postmodern. This battle has taken the Church nowhere. As for postmoderns, we’re over it. Already we soar far above the limits of secular science. We are not bound by it. and we care far more about how to live than about how to prove” (Laura Buffington, John Emert, Erin McDade, and Cris Smith in “Postmodern Issues in Church Planting,” Church Planting from the ground up, 2004, 87).
- If you want to fun fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run with others.
“The image of the church as the ‘body’ of Christ has resulted in a new awareness that the church is the continuation of the presence of Jesus in and to the world. Even though there is only one actual incarnation of God, and that is in Jesus Christ, the church as the ‘body’ participates in the incarnation as an ‘extension of God’s presence in the world.’ God continues by the power of the Spirit within and through the church to have a special presence in the world. This presence is understood as a pneumatological, christological, soteriological, and eschatological presence of the new creation” (Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, 2002, 112).
“The church is where the Spirit of God is forming a people who are the expression of God’s redeeming work in the world. they are the people in whom the dwelling of God is forming a new creation.” (Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, 2002, 112).
“The calling of the church in every culture is to be mission. That is, the work of the church is not to be an agent or servant of the culture. The churches’ business is not to maintain freedom or to promote wealth or to help a political party or to serve as the moral guide to culture. The church’s mission is to be the presence of the kingdom. . . . The church’s mission is to show the world what it looks like when a community of people live under the reign of God” (Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, 2002, 133).
“A church without a missions or a mission without the church are both contradictions. Such things do exist, but only as pseudostructures” —
(Carl E. Braaten. The Flaming Center. 1977:55)
“The church is the church only when it exists for others…The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but
helping and serving” — (Dietrich Bonhoeffer; words written in prison in 1944)
“Just as one could not speak of the church without speaking of its mission, it was impossible to think of the church without thinking, in the same breath, of the world to which it is sent.” — (Bosch. Transforming Mission. 1991:377)
“The church’s final word is not ‘church’ but the glory of the Father and the Son in the Spirit of liberty” — (Jurgen Moltmann. The Church in
the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology. 1977:19)
“The church is both the goal and the agent of world evangelization. Mission disengagement from the church is a biblical oxymoron” (Frank
Severn. Mission societies: Are they biblical? Evangelical Missions Quarterly. 2000:321)
“Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth.
Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people
worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.” — (Howard Snyder. Liberating the Church.
What would an understanding of the church (an ecclesiology) look like if it were truly missional in design and definition? (Darrell Guder,
Missional Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998: 7).
“For the church to live out an intimate engagement with the narrative of God’s action in Jesus Christ that shapes its life and thought, it must use
personal and communal ways of knowing that reach beyond the merely rational.” — Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society
(Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1989), 222-23.
“Falling into an ultimate relativism and subjectivity are always dangers within the emerging postmodern condition, but the postmodern worldview can
nevertheless be conducive to establishing critical points of contact with a more holistic approach to knowing. Referenced in Guder, Missional
Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998: 41).
This is a time for drastically new vision. The current predicament of churches in North America requires more than a mere tinkering with
long-assumed notions about the identity and mission of the church. Instead, as many knowledgeable observers have noted, there is a need for
reinventing or rediscovering the church in this new kind of world. — Peter C. Hodgson, Revisioning the Church:Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988).
“The churches shaped by the Reformation were left with a view of the church that was not directly intended by the Reformers, but nevertheless resulted from the way that they spoke about the church. Those churches came to conceive the church as ‘a place where certain things happened.’ The
Reformers emphasized as the ‘marks of the true church’ that such a church exists wherever the gospel is rightly preached, the sacraments rightly
administered, and (they sometimes added) church discipline exercised. . . . Over time, these ‘marks’ narrowed the church’s definition of itself toward a ‘place where’ idea. . . . This perception of the church gives little attention to the church as a communal entity or presence, and it stresses even less the community’s role as the bearer of missional responsibility throughout the world, both near and far away.” — (Huntsburger in Missional Church 1998: 79).
“He who has not the church for his mother hath not God for his father.”
Mission to the Poor
“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” — J. Hudson Taylor, In Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Howard and Mary Guinness Taylor. Chicago: Moody, 1932(?).
These are the words of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry in his home synagogue in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he
has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 418-19; cf. Isa. 61:1-2, Luke 7:22-23).
“The church has given bread to the poor and has kept the bread of life for the middle class” — Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1992, 12).
“As mission leaders, we have failed to foresee both the immensity of urban growth and the fact that most of the urban growth would be in squatter areas. The opportunity to save the cites from many traumas associated with this development, as well as the opportunity to establish a church in every squatter area that has formed, have been lost almost entirely” — (Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1992, 14).
“Some missions have made a deliberate attempt to reach the rich, believing in a sort of religious ‘trickle-down’ theory. ‘Trickle-down’ works no more in he kingdom than it does in the economic realm. This strategic mistatkes lacks support both in biblical exegesis and in sociological analysis. . . . The gospel ‘trickles up’.” — (Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor (Monrovia, CA: MARC,
“A church trapped by cultural perspectives on affluence rather than adopting the biblical stance of opposition to the ‘god of mammon’ has
exported this into missions. We must return to the pattern of Jesus, who chose non-destitute poverty as a way of life, took the time to learn
language and culture, and refused to be a welfare agency king. . . . Non-destitute poverty and simplicity must again become focal in mission
strategy.” — (Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1992, 15).
“The propensity for the Western church to accept the agenda of aid organizations as focal to the Great Commission has seriously skewed mission. Mission to the middle class is seen as proclamation. To the poor it has become giving handouts or assisting in development as defined by Christianized humanitarian perspectives. It is far easier for churches to give thousands of dollars than to find one of their members who will walk into the slums for a decade.” — (Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1992, 16).
Money and Missions
“The Western temptation is to conceptualize and organize the missionary task on an economic level that can only be sustained by Western support and oversight” (Van Rheenen, Monthly Missiological Reflection #2, “Money and Mi$$ion$,” www.missiology.org/mmr/mmr2.htm).
“The Western Church has made the mistake of girding the Eastern David in Saul’s armor and putting Saul’s sword into his hands. Under these conditions the Church on the mission field has made a brave showing, but it is reasonable to expect that it will give a better account of itself by using its own familiar gear and weapons” (J. Merle Davis 1947, 108; in Charles R. Taber, “Structures and Strategies for Interdependence in World Mission,” in
Supporting Indigenous Ministries, edited by Daniel Rickett and Dotsey Welliver, p. 68).
“The effectiveness of the gospel is hindered by insensitive affluence that makes social relationships not only difficult but embarrassing; for as long as there is an economic gap between missionaries and their converts, fraternal fellowship is difficult to maintain. In the end, the gospel that the
missionary tries to proclaim is watered down, not intentionally but watered down nonetheless” (Nthamburi, “Wealthy Missionaries: An African Viewpoint,” In Bonk’s Mi$$ion$ and Money: Afluence as a Western Missionary Problem, 1991, xv).
“. . . prosperity, while enabling the Western Church to engage in numerous expensive, efficient, and even useful activities, overseas, has an inherent tendency to isolate missionaries from the cutting edge of missionary endeavor, rendering much of their effort either unproductive or counterproductive, or sometimes both” (Bonk Mi$$ion$ and Money: Afluence as a Western Missionary Problem, 1991, xix).
“Since Biblical faith is above all a relational faith, it is not only sad, but also sinful, when personal possessions and privileges prevent, distort, or
destroy missionary relationships with the poor. But this is the almost inevitable price of affluence” (Bonk Mi$$ion$ and Money: Afluence as
a Western Missionary Problem, 1991, 48).
“The use of money is like a two-edged sword: It can empower missions on the one hand while hindering or destroying it on the other. Money can empower missions by (1) supporting effective missionaries to open new areas of the world to the Gospel, (2) partnering with developing national churches to train and oversee effective national leaders, and (3) developing media and materials to strengthen specific local ministries. Money can hinder missions by (1) creating unhealthy dependence, (2) controlling churches which should be self-supporting, (3) creating jealousy between those supported by the West and those not supported, (4) unknowingly attracting leeches and con-men who hope for benefits, support, or a chance to study abroad, and (5) over-support of missionaries who physically separate themselves from the people among whom they hope to minister” (Van Rheenen, Monthly Missiological Reflection #2, “Money and Mi$$ion$,” (www.missiology.org/mmr/mmr2.htm).
Following is a list of specific questions that will aid in evaluating the use of money in missions. (1) Are missions resources used to maintain local churches or to plant new ones? (2) Does support create unhealthy dependence or encourage national church initiative? (3) Are national church leaders ethically, morally, and spiritually responsible to other national church leaders who understand their culture? (4) Are missionaries ethically, morally, and spiritually responsible to teammates on the field, national church leaders, and church leaders of their sending congregation or agency? (5) Do supported national leaders expect to be supported by their own people in the near future? (6) Are national leaders supported on a level consistent with the local economy or on the economic level of members of the supporting church? (7) Does the support of one national leader create jealousy because other equally qualified people are not supported? Who determines who is qualified or not? (8) Does support unknowingly create hierarchies so that churches and institutions are controlled by the West rather than by local Christian leaders? (9) Do missionaries from other countries live on a level that local Christians feel comfortable visiting and fellowshipping in their homes? (Van Rheenen, Monthly Missiological Reflection #2, “Monthly Missiological Reflection #13, “Money and Mi$$ion$ (Revisited): Combating Paternalism” www.missiology.org/mmr/mmr13.htm)
“Jesus was short on sermons, long on conversations; short on answers, long on questions; short on abstractions and propositions; long on stories and parables; short on telling you what to think, long on challenging you to think for yourself; short on condemning the irreligious, long on confronting the religious.” (McLaren, More Ready Than You Realize 15).
- “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words” — (St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Hompage. http://www.stfrancisa2.com/welcome.htm).
“The missionary who is immediately immersed in the local community has many advantages. If the newcomer lives with a local family, he or she can
learn how the insiders organize their lives, how they get their food, and do their shopping, and how they get around with public transportation.
Much can be learned during the first months about the insiders’ attitudes and their feelings about the ways foreigners live. As the newcomer
experiences an alternative lifestyle, he or she can evaluate the value of adopting it. On the other hand, the missionary whose first priority is to
get settled will only be able to settle in a familiar way. Since nothing else has been experienced, no other options are possible. And once a
missionary is comfortably settled in the old life-style, that person is virtually locked into a pattern that is foreign to the local people.” —
(E. Thomas and Elizabeth S. Brewster. “The Difference Bonding Makes” in Perspectives of the World Christian Movement [3rd Edition]. 1999:445)
“Missionaries must cross linguistic, cultural, and social boundaries to proclaim the gospel in new settings. They must translate and communicate
the Bible in the languages of people in other cultures so that it speaks to them in the particularities of their lives. They must bridge between
divine revelation and human contexts, and provide biblical answers to the confusing problems of everyday life. This process of cross-cultural
communication means that missionaries, by the very nature of their task, must be theologians. Their central question is: ‘What is God’s Word to
humans in this particular situation?'” — (Paul G. Hiebert, R. Daniel Shaw, and Tite Tienou. Understanding Folk Religion. 1999:26)
“Cross-cultural reality testing forces people to examine both their own and others’ understandings of reality. Most people simply assume that the
way they look at things is the way things really are, and judge other cultures’ views of reality before understanding them. These judgments are
based on ethnocentrism, which closes the door to further understanding and communication. Furthermore, ethnocentric judgments keep missionaries from examining their own beliefs and values to determine which of them are based on biblical foundations and which on their cultural beliefs.” —
(Paul G. Hiebert, R. Daniel Shaw, and Tite Tienou. Understanding Folk Religion. 1999:27)
Language and Scripture
“The only solid foundation for the Christian character is a personal, direct knowledge of the Bible. The Bible in the mother tongue is essential
for establishing faith in individuals as well as indigenous churches. The girls who speak the Indian language will teach it to their children.
Spanish is the language of the conquest, the exploiters. I trust more in the power of the gospel in the mother tongue than the preaching of any
missionary or evangelist.” — (Van Slyke, the first missionary to live among Zapoteco peoples of Oaxaca region of Mexico, Global Prayer Digest,
February 5, 2001)
“Learning a language is an irreducibly social enterprise that trains a child into a communal mode of living. Thus Wittgenstein likens language to a series of games that require partners for playing: ‘In a conversation: One person throws a ball; the other does not know: whether he is supposed to throw it back, or throw it to a third person, or leave it on the ground, or pick it up and put it in this pocket, etc.’ Language is not a picture that succumbs to distanced observation, it is a socially involved enterprise that by its very nature engages human subjects” –(Brad J. Kallenberg,. Live to Tell: Evangelism for a Postmodern Age. 2002:24)
“One is not born a Christian but becomes a Christian” (Tertullian)
“It is easier to become a Christian when not one than it is to become a Christian when already one” (Soren Kierkegaard).
“Challenges and opposition to biblical Christianity will grow more strident. There will be persecution physically as well as psychologically. Militant Islam and Hinduism specifically target evangelizing Christians in many parts of the two-thirds world. Sometimes the persecution is official,
other times it is informal and in subtle ways” (Dr. Peter Chao, The Changing Mission Field, Presentation at Godsmission, September 21 2001).
“The blood of the martyrs is always the seed of the church.” — (In Light the Window, a video of the Christian Broadcasting Network. 1995,
“Martyrdom and mission belong together. Martyrdom is especially at home on the mission field” — (Hans von Campenhausen. Das Martyrium in der
Mission, in Frohnes & Knorr. 1974:71)
“There are no closed countries if you do not expect to come back” — (Larry Poston, Evangelical Missiological Society national meeting, Nov.
Quotes of Encouragement
“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God!” — (William Carey)
“The church exists by missions like fire exists by burning” (Emil Brunner).
“No man is a fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” — (Jim Elliot)
“Mission is the very lifeblood of the church. As the body cannot survive without blood, so the church cannot survive without mission. Without blood
the body dies; without mission the church dies. As the physical body becomes weak without sufficient oxygen-carrying red blood cells, so the church becomes anemic if it does not express its faith. The church . . .establishes its rationale for being—its purpose for existing—while articulating its faith. An unexpressed faith withers. A Christian fellowship without mission loses its vitality. Mission is the force that gives the body of Christ vibrancy, purpose, and direction. When the church neglects its role as God’s agent for mission, it is actually neglecting its own lifeblood. — (Gailyn Van Rheenen, Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies. 1996:31)
“My soul needing God is like grass needing water.” — (In Light the Window, a video of the Christian Broadcasting Network. 1995)
“Let my heart be broken with the things which break the heart of God.” — (In Light the Window, a video of the Christian Broadcasting Network. 1995)
“The F-16 is an unstable plane. If the computer or pilot does not fly the plane, it will fall to the ground. Likewise, the Christian life will fall apart if one does not rely on God” — (Adapted from Larry Poston, Evangelical Missiological Society national meeting, Nov. 15, 2000)
“Wherever at the moment there is most to do for the Savior, that is our home” — (Zinzendorf, N.; quoted in Warneck. Outline of a History of
Protestant Missions. 1906:59)
“Without the religious element, life is like an engine running without oil–it seizes up.” — (Romano Guardini. Das Ende der Neuzeit. 1950:113)
“When religion falls apart or dries up, not only do people suffer meaninglessness but the civilization crumbles” — (Max Stackhouse. Apologia: Contextualization, Globalization, and Mission in Theological Education. 1988:82)
“The human soul abhors a vacuum. If faith in God falls away, its place is taken by other gods: ‘the powers of Nature, Reason, Science, History,
Evolution, Democracy, Individual Freedom, and Technology…’ (West 1971:99), or other manifestations of secular religion, such as ideology”
— (Bosch. Transforming Mission. 1991:354)
“We know more about war than peace today, more about killing than living. Knowledge of science outstrips capacity for control. We have too
many men of science but too few men of God. Our world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Our is a world
of nuclear giants but ethical infants.” — (USA General Omar Bradley, Time, 1999, Millennium ed., p. 29).
“There exists a passion for comprehension, just as there exists a passion for music. That passion is rather common in children, but gets lost in most people later on.” — (Albert Einstein)
Prayers for Missions
“In our lifetime woudn’t it be sad if we spent more time washing dishes or swatting flies or mowing the yard or watching television than praying for world missions.” — (Dave Davidson)
“Prayer needs no passport, visa or work permit. There is no such thing as a ‘closed country’ as far as prayer is concerned…much of the history of mission could be written in terms of God moving in response to persistent prayer.” — (Stephan Gaukroger)
- “There is nothing in the world — except the Church’s disobedience — to render the evangelization of the world in this generation an impossibility.”
— (Robert Speer)
- “We can reach our world, if we will. The greatest lack today is not people or funds. The greatest need is prayer.” — (Wesley Duewel)
I have one passion. It is He, He alone.” — (Count Nicholaus von Zinzindorf)
“In order to really know God, inward stillness is absolutely necessary. I remember when I first learned this. A time of great emergency had risen in my life, when every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety, and when the necessity for immediate and vigorous action seemed overpowering and yet circumstances were such that I could do nothing, and the person who could, would not stir.
For a little while it seemed as if I must fly to pieces with the inward turmoil, when suddenly the still small voice whispered in the depth of my soul, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ The word was with power, and I listened. I composed my body to perfect stillness, and I constrained my troubled spirit into quietness, and looked up and waited, and then I did ‘know’ that it was God, God even in the very emergency and in my helplessness to meet it, and I rested in Him.
It was an experience that I would not have missed for worlds; and I may add also, that out of this stillness seemed to arise a power to deal with the emergency, that very soon brought it to a successful issue. I learned then effectually that my strength was to sit still.” — (Hannah Whitall Smith)
“The essence of prayer doesn’t consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with Him in perpetual communion. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. Prayer doesn’t mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God Himself, the only Giver of Life.
Prayer is not asking, but union with God. Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives. Prayer is the desire to possess God Himself, the Source of al life. The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with Him.” — (Sadhu Sundar Singh)