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What is Your Philosophy of Mission Work?

by Bob Young
© 2013
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Every church involved in mission work operates by some philosophy. That philosophy may or may not be studied, carefully thought out and analyzed, or fervently prayed about, but it exists nonetheless. In an effort to clarify and sharpen the mission focus and philosophy of the local church, more and more churches are writing out their philosphy of missions (not to be confused with a mission statement, which is different than a philosophy of mission work). Without careful study and preparation, the philosophy that guides mission work may be influenced by both bad and good motivations and by both true and false ideas.

Dan Hardin describes three mission philosophies in his book Mission: A Practical Approach. One approach see missions primarily as helping meet the physical needs of this world--feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, liberating the politically oppressed. A second approach believes that as long as Christians exist in a certain location, missions is carried out by their presence and example. A third philosophy, the one that Hardin upholds as biblical and legitimate, is an understanding of missions that "emphasizes winning souls, discipling, baptizing, church planting and nurturing."

An indigenous church is one that is "self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating." The following "indigenous church principles" identify the main concepts of the mission philosophy Hardin describes and supports, with a primary focus on evangelism and spiritual needs.

The contemporary church will do well to consider afresh these concepts. We have developed lots of "mission work" that does very little to expand the borders of the kingdom and to bring the lost into a saved relationship with God. At best, one might affirm that our covert and indirect approach helps people with basic needs. At worst, one might observe that we are not doing what God sends us out to do, the most important thing we can do--to seek and to save the lost.

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Last updated April 2, 2013