Missions in Transition Everything is changing: the political environment, economic climate, religious confrontations, economic instability, military and terrorist threats, and new diseases that have no apparent cure and are wiping out entire nations, yet there has never in the history of the Church been a better opportunity for finally accomplishing the task of the Church: World Evangelization
“The 25 Unbelievable Years” • Before 1945 – 99.5% of world under political domination of west (Europe) • By 1970 – 99.5% of Third World was free of Colonialism • Called the “retreat of the West” • Some countries had to fight for freedom: Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, etc.
Nationalism • Obligated indigenization and cease dependence on foreign funds • Revealed imperative of starting churches with indigenous principles (John Nevius, Roland Allen) • Changed status and role of missionary: no longer barda shib (“great master”) or patron (“father”), rather became co-worker or servant! • Exposed suppressed resentment/bitterness for dominance of western missionary – both attitudes were wrong and new roles minimize conflict. • Tested the genuineness and soundness of national church (i.e. China church responded well) • Image of Christianity was de-westernized – not a foreign religion now.
Communist expansion and defeat • Until WWII Communism was limited to Russia • Communism filled the power vacuum in E. Europe in 1945 • Communist armies took China in 1949, then N. Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia; And Cuba and Nicaragua in LA.– it was conquest by ideology. • Persecution severe and many restrictions for church and Christians ostracized or thrown out– until death of Mao • Missionaries thrown out of most communist countries in 1950 leaving approx. 1 M believers. • Today it is estimated there are 70-90 millionbelievers • Communism forced cessation of ancestor worship – making them more responsive to the Gospel!
Changes within Christendom • Protestants shifted toward liberalism • WCC in 1948 • International Missionary Council (IMC) in 1958 merged with WCC and evangelism became socio-political programs, i.e. subsidizing Marxist guerillas in Zambia • Inclusivist message • Membership (Protestants and Greek Orthodox) nearly reached 1Billion as the RCC. • Use leverage to repress evangelical witness • Old line denominations discriminated against fundamentalists/conservatives • Evangelicals kept out of influential churches, no representation on home boards for help in visas, claims of comity violation, use of media, etc. • Scholarships given to liberal seminaries for youth • Results now show a decline in liberal institutions in the US, but harm damage irreparable internationally. They need accreditation too much
Vatican Council II (1962-65) • Persecution of Evangelicals was common till the 60’s. • Vatican Council II forced the change in attitude toward Protestants from villains to “separated brethren” • Liberal and evolutionary theologies were recognized and are taught in their seminaries to become more relevant • Liberation Theology evolved out of this quagmire • Charismatic Movement invaded RCC to and est. 20% • Countries with concordats with Rome have separated themselves from Rome and granted full civil rights to Protestants (i.e. Spain, Argentina).
Pentecostal/Charismatic Boom • Began in 1900 in Kansas, spread to LA, the global • Pentecostal denominations marginally accepted until 1960s. • In 1956 an Anglican priest “spoke in tongues” and the Charismatic Movement began • Defined as the same Pentecostal experience crossing denominational lines, even into Catholicism. • Today this movement is the far majority of Evangelicals (est. as high as 60-90%) • To confuse the issue: the largest grouping of Pentecostals are “Jesus-Only” (deny the trinity) and RCC • No group has ever been as aggressive in evangelism, nor committed to “felt needs” of people around the world.
Missionary Personnel Changes • Indigenous concepts brought about change of role • Sometimes Nationals wanted same pay as missionary • Often Nationals formed their own mission board and send out their own missionaries – presently as many as from US and Europe! • Surge of missionaries after WWII • Many exposed to global needs had to return to help • In 1945 only a handful of missionaries in Europe, in 1980 reached 4000, and by 2000 reached 6700! • Short-term missionaries (1 month to 3 years) explode • Career missionaries have been stable even with 10% attrition rate, but this is increasing since missionaries of the 50’s are retiring in large numbers.
New Attitude towards Nationals • Some missionaries liked control and resisted letting go and trusting Nationals, causing conflicts =Paternalism. • Many missionaries struggled with the issue of identifying with Nationals, especially indigenous lifestyle (clothes, food, social relationships) • Younger missionaries adapted easier, and caused friction with older missionaries • Pentecostal missionaries and non-Pentecostal missionaries have long remained separate. Often Nationals don’t share this need of separation and accept many Pentecostal practices and theology, bringing division and disputes.
Methodology and Missiology • Innovations in missionary methodology • Bible translation surge: • Cameron Townsend from colporteur to translator to founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators (SIL). • They have translated 2149 Bible projects/ 1638 in progress • They have a goal of reaching the last 3,000 language groups by 2025! • Bible Correspondence – Theological Education by Extension • Literature Ministries: books, magazines, newspapers • Chronological Bible Storing /Teaching • Christian Day School/ Christian Colleges/Online DLP programs • Modern Media: HCJB, TWR, FEBC, Back to the Bible Broadcast (rebroadcast with small transmitters) • Jesus Film is available in 547 languages and has been seen by 2.6 billion people (next slide)
Non-Western Christians as a Percentage of all Christians1900-2020 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 2020
Catholic, 51% Catholic, 51% Orthodox, 22% Protestants, Protestants, 16% 20% Anglicans, Anglicans, Orthodox, Indepentent, 4% Indepentent, 6% 10% 1% 19% State of the Christian Church 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2000 1900
Now what are we to do? You will have to decide where you want to invest your life: with the biggest concentration of evangelical believers in the history of the Church, or on the side where there are very few to share the Gospel with the millions who have never heard.