July/August 2009, Volume 6, Issue 4
A country can only export what it manufactures. That's a pretty basic principle. But now apply that principle to the topic of missions: if generations of American churches have been characterized by pragmatic church growth principles, what would you expect to see characterizing their overseas missions endeavors?
Okay, so maybe American missions work is driven by the same kind of pragmatism that characterizes so many American churches. Is that really such a big deal? Well, stop and consider the differences between planting pragmatically-driven churches in America versus planting them in most Majority World contexts. Such churches in America have the luxury of building themselves upon the foundations of a culture imbued with several hundred years of Christian influence and ethical norms. Fill a room with nominal Christians, as pragmatically-driven churches do, and you still have a dame that looks half way decent. She'll dress up alright.
Now build that same church with those same pragmatic principles, yielding once again a room filled with nominal Christians, but do it in a country with strong traditions in polygamy, or animal sacrifice, or ancestor worship, or Islamic chauvinism, or Hindu castes, or nepotistic social structures, or so on. Build it on the shoulders of leaders who didn't grow up in Sunday School and were not groomed in seminary classrooms with tall genealogical trees, where orthodoxy, even if it's doubted, has been defended in book after book after book. What should we expect of this church? I've been around the Majority World block enough times to suspect something very different, indeed.
Philip Jenkins and now others have checked the stats and told us that global Christianity is moving South and East. But are they talking about "Christians" saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone? Some would probably tell me that these questions are rooted in arrogant, West-centric assumptions. But am I allowed to raise questions?
Andy Johnson kicks off this 9Marks eJournal by pointing to the problem of pragmatism in missiology today, which is the primary concern we want to raise. The pseudonymous "Ed Roberts" and "Doug Coleman," both workers in sensitive contexts, review popular but problematically pragmatic resources. Yet another anonymous overseas worker thoughtfully engages the related subjects of contextualization and lying. Both of these articles are highly recommended.
More practical matters are described in the articles on partnerships and what three churches are actually doing. Really practical matters are provided in the tool kit. Conrad Mbewe's especially is a must read.
In all this, we pray that these articles and the recommended resources help your church more faithfully engage with God's work around the world.
THINKING CAREFULLY ABOUT MISSIONS
Pragmatism, Pragmatism Everywhere!
You say you believe the Bible, but what's your bottom line for missions: biblical faithfulness or whatever works?
By Andy Johnson
Putting Contextualization in its Place
A veteran missionary offers an in-depth synthesis of the biblical material on contextualization and then applies it to evangelism in the Muslim world.
By a missions strategist for Central Asia
Lying, Hostile Nations and the Great Commission
Are you lying if you give some but not all your reasons for gaining access to a restricted nation?
By a missions strategist for Central Asia
MISSIONS PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN CHURCH AND FIELD
Missions Partnerships from the Home Church's Perspective
Not all partnerships benefit the supported workers. Here's how one church tries to bless, not burden, their overseas partners.
By Andy Johnson
Missions Partnerships from a Field Worker's Perspective
Can two walk together unless they be agreed? A veteran missionary looks at how much agreement is needed between a local church and a team on the field.
By Ed Roberts
HOW THREE CHURCHES PUT MISSIONS INTO PRACTICE
Sending Missionaries in Community
If the world knows we are his disciples by our love for one another, why not send a whole team of Christians overseas to plant a church?
By George Tissiere and C. Bug
Cultivating a Culture of Missions in a Small Church
Faithfulness in global evangelism isn't restricted to huge churches with huge budgets. Small churches, too, can cultivate a big commitment to missions.
By Tom Ascol
Developing Missions Networks Without a Denomination
Denominations aren't the only missions-sending game in town. A church can build more flexible networks without them.
By Jeremy Pace
A MISSIONS TOOLKIT
How American Christians Can Help Christians in Zambia
An African pastor reminds American Christians to be a little quicker to listen and a little slower to speak.
By Conrad Mbewe
How to Get Businesspeople into Missions
As the window for non-profit work as a platform for missions is closing, a window for business as missions is opening.
By the executive director of Access Partners
Guidelines for Deciding Whom a Church Supports
An internal Capitol Hill Baptist Church elders memorandum by Andy Johnson
A Church Questionnaire for Supported Missionaries
Used by Capitol Hill Baptist Church
RECOMMENDED MISSIONS RESOURCES
9Marks Pastors' and Theologians' Forum
We asked a roundtable of pastors and theologians from around the world the question, "Do you like Operation World? Why or why not?"
Answers from Mark Dever, Matthias Lohmann, Conrad Mbewe, Michael Oh, and Luiz Sayão
Book Review: An Introduction to the Science of Missions, by J.H. Bavinck
Reviewed by Andy Johnson
Book Review: Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, by John Piper
Reviewed by Robin
Book Review: Missionary Methods: St Paul's or Ours?, By Roland Allen
Reviewed by Scott
Book Review: A Window on the World, by Daphne Spragget with Jill Johnstone
Reviewed by Tim Cantrell
9Marks supports Access Partners because they provide a helpful way for churches to engage their members in the work of missions. Click the logo on the left for more information.
NOT-SO-RECOMMENDED MISSIONS RESOURCES
Book Review: Church Planting Movements: How God Is Redeeming a Lost World, by David Garrison
Reviewed by Ed Roberts
Book Review: The CAMEL: How Muslims Are Coming to Faith in Christ, by Kevin Greeson
Reviewed by Doug Coleman
MISCELLANEOUS BOOK REVIEWS
Book Review: God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt,
by Os Guinness
Reviewed by Patrick Schreiner
Book Review: Where Are All the Brothers? By Eric Redmond
Reviewed by Anthony Carter
AUDIO LEADERSHIP INTERVIEWS
Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa with Conrad Mbewe
Posted on July 1, 2009
Zambian pastor Conrad Mbewe provides a firsthand look at the growth of biblical Christianity in his part of the world.
Leading the Church Today with Aaron Menikoff & Friends
Posted on June 1, 2009
Aaron Menikoff asks Mark Dever and the 9Marks team to provide Church 101″ for church members. Send it to your members today!
9MARKS ON FACEBOOK
9Marks now has a Facebook fan page! Click on the logo on the left to go there.
The Korean translation of Twelve Challenges Churches Face by Mark Dever and The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever can be purchased here.
An English/Tagalog version of What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever can now be obtained for free from Action International Ministries.
UPCOMING 9MARKS EVENTS
God Exposed: Awkward Preaching in an Age of Comfort
SEBTS, Wake Forest, North Carolina
Mark Dever, Danny Akin, C.J. Mahaney, Thabiti Anyabwile, Michael McKinley
Together for the Gospel 2010
Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul
Registration is now open!
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Click here to link to the 9Marks Workshop page.
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