bits from bob....

Refreshing our Philosophy of Mission Work

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

Dan Hardin describes three mission philosophies in his book Mission: A Practical Approach. One approach sees missions primarily as helping meet the physical needs of this world--feeding the hungry and clothing the poor; providing child care, medical care, and education or other training; and liberating the oppressed. A second approach believes that as long as there are Christians in an area or region, 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."

Regardless of the approach, the ultimate goals must be seeking and saving souls, and establishing mature indigenous churches. A mature indigenous church is "self-governing, self-sustaining, and self-propagating." Hardin lists eight "indigenous church principles" which provide a primary focus on evangelism and spiritual needs. This article suggests ten concepts, reordering and expanding his list.

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. We have inserted a lot of foreign missionaries into mission fields with the primary purpose of meeting physical needs. Of course, we point out that such needs meeting also provides opportunities to bring people to Jesus, but such results are often (usually) fairly limited. At best, one might affirm that our covert and indirect approach primarily helps people with basic needs with a limited secondary focus on eternal salvation. 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