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I don’t know about you, but I do have regrets over some trends in which I was a willing participant.
They include teased bangs. Polka dots. Crispy, overgelled, permed hair. Tight-rolled jeans. White eyeliner.
And as discussed in the last post, the Church, too, grows throughout time in ways it does things–because Jesus is as relevant as ever.
Unlike my teal-laced high-tops from second grade.
Yes. Sometimes we lose the rich value of what we had. Other times, we shed harmful practices, like ethno-centrism or harmful cultural appropriation.
Don’t unhitch history
In her Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren reminds us the Church exists not only around the world, but backward and forward through history:
When we worship Jesus, we rely on millions of Christians over thousands of years who God has used to bear witness to himself. The only reason we know anything at all about Jesus is because his disciples told their friends, neighbors, and enemies about him…and believers have carries his message everywhere they’ve gone in each generation.
….[A priest friend] often asked us to imagine the communion table stretching on for miles, to remind us that when we take Communion, we mysteriously feast with all those who are in Christ. In the Eucharist we commune with Dorothy Day and Saint Augustine, the Apostle Paul and Billy Graham… (p. 118-119)
Hebrews 7 seems to affirm this connectedness to the Church through history:
One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. (vv. 9-10)
We’re refining ways we accomplish missions for this generation, for this time. But we aren’t shucking the Church and the beauty of Jesus’ Bride through time.
Through these global missions trends–toward godliness and faithfulness rather than, say, bigger hair–we hope to add to it.
GLOBAL MISSIONS TRENDS = More Partnerships.
While living in Uganda, my relationships with trusted nationals amplified and refined nearly every act of service. Even within the last six months, nationals have offered sage cultural understanding and connection for needs that come to my husband’s and my attention here in the U.S.
Effectively, they helped me comprehend everything from traffic accidents to tea time. Bartering to bantering. Mourning rituals to modesty.
Some even took the form of community social workers as we sought to decrease the “White Savior” mentality and its effects on cycles of poverty.
Nationals helped us love with wisdom and depth, and continued to create more lateral relationships rather than superior/inferior cultures. They helped us embrace our role as constant learners.
Discipleship isn’t a hierarchy we maintain, but a mission we reproduce and give away.Discipleship isn't a hierarchy we maintain, but a mission we give away. Click To Tweet
So ask your agency about their goals to train and increase national influence and diversity.
As a point of note, do click to check out Patrick Johnstone’s (author of Operation World) caveats on this trend. Presently, he reports, “In most of the parts of the world that most need the gospel, there are not enough people who know the Lord, who can do the job.”
No longer is missions just someone from the West traveling to the East—we’re now seeing a much more cooperative kind of missionary endeavor which I think is essential to biblical Christianity.
Dr. Timothy Tennet, BiblicalTraining.org
…With other orgs, Churches and missionaries.
Ever heard of the silo effect?
The Silo Effect refers to a lack of information flowing between groups or parts of an organization. On a farm, silos prevent different grains from mixing. In an organization, the Silo Effect limits the interactions between members of different branches of the company, thus leading to reduced productivity.
That same Silo Effect within an area’s missions efforts can waste valuable time and resources. Unfortunately, we’re recreating the proverbial wheel with redundancies in our ministries.
Take, for example the 2 million NGO’s (non-government organizations: typically, non-profits) in India. That’s one for every 600 Indians–far outnumbering primary schools and healthcare centers.
Many, of course, won’t be Christian orgs. But could Christian organizations band together to intensify impact?
Thankfully among global missions trends, Christians are discovering critical partnerships and essential communications.
Partnerships: A Case in Point
Additionally, consider the Christianity Today-featured church revival in Thailand. It’s been fueled by a large database constructed by a former missionary kid. The research caused pastors throughout Thailand to band together.
Once [pastors] saw Martin’s maps, with data drilled down to the village level, they realized just how unreached their own nation remained.
….Each church pledged, on the spot, how many people they’d lead to Christ before his next visit in about two months.
By the time Martin made his way back from Chiang Mai, where he lives in Northern Thailand, to the Phetchabun province, the FJCCA leaders had far exceeded their goals, starting 74 house churches and converting 782 people in just 54 days.
Organizations serving many missions organizations–like Engineering Ministries International (EMI) or Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)–can serve as hubs for missionaries, pastors, and churches. They provide avenues to network, converse, and share ideas.
As you serve overseas, make an effort to understand and celebrate other organizations. Diligently seek ways to lock arms and eschew territorialism.
So let’s do this for the sake of the Gospel–and the unity for which Jesus begged God before his death (John 17:21).
GLOBAL MISSIONS TRENDS = Business as Mission (BAM)/Business for Transformation (B4T).
If you’ve been following Go. Serve. Love for long, you know a big part of our heart leans toward the 4.13 billion unreached. BAM is one of our favorite global missions trends
We need a solution as sizeable as that 4.13 billion… We must empower and send out more than “full-time missionaries”.
…There are significantly more marketplace believers than full-time ministry folks.
Marketplace workers have greater access to more unreached communities than traditional missionaries due to governmental and cultural restrictions. Countries welcome jobs and healthy economies more than Christianity.
People are generally more open to listening to the gospel presented by individuals with whom they have an affinity and relationship.
Don’t miss our page of all our posts on BUSINESS AS MISSION (BAM) :: BUSINESS FOR TRANSFORMATION (B4T).
GLOBAL MISSIONS TRENDS = Migration of people groups facilitating dissemination of the Gospel.
Go. Serve. Love has also touched on this frequently, as in the last post’s focus on urbanization.
Interestingly, by 2050, 75% of the world is anticipated to be living in urban centers. Johnstone estimates that the USA will only be 40% Caucasian. Europe will only be about 60% Caucasian.
Furthermore, the UNHCR estimated that at the end of 2019, a minimum of 79.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes as refugees. That’s roughly 1 out of every 100 people globally. (Interestingly, 80% are hosted in nations affected by acute food insecurity and malnutrition. This means many have profound physical needs.)
The (Really) Good News
But as any graduate of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class will tell you, God compassionately uses movements of people–even tragic, seemingly senseless ones–for his purposes. He’s drawing men and women to know him.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us… (Acts 17:26-27)
Anecdotally, one organization working in a Middle Eastern nation reported to me that the tragedy of ISIS has shaken many Muslims from their faith.
And as this Christianity Today podcast confirms, this migration moved them to other nations. Many of those lie outside of the strictures of Muslim community.
Consequently, their interest in faith is reviving even the European churches in the countries to which they migrate. Ministry to migrating groups of people even has its own name: Diaspora missions.
Wikipedia reports, “Christianity is reportedly the fastest growing religion in Iran with an average annual rate of 5.2%.” Operation World reports 19.6% for evangelical growth. Afghanistan is number 2. (See this article on surprising places Christianity is increasing…and where it’s not.)
Does this get you as excited as it gets us?
When physical, political, and other barriers prevent entire people groups from accessing the Gospel, God remains undeterred in his goal of bringing people from every tongue, tribe, and nation to love him.
Praise Him with us over these global missions trends–and his passion for peoples worldwide.
We want to know.
What missions trends are you seeing–and inspired by?
Janel Breitenstein is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and senior editor for Go. Serve. Love. After five and a half years in East Africa, her family of six has returned to Colorado, where they continue to work on behalf of the poor with Engineering Ministries International.
Her book, Permanent Markers: Spiritual Life Skills for Work-in-Progress Families (Harvest House) releases in October 2021. You can find her—“The Awkward Mom”—having uncomfortable, important conversations at JanelBreitenstein.com, and on Instagram @janelbreit.