Been trying to write an Introductory book for Christian missions. I suppose I should be working on it right now. I have written some short books before. I did one on medical missions (based on my dissertation)… pretty good, but short. I did one on the use of narrative in missions (a bit rough and speculative but I like it generally). I did a very rough one on wholism in missions (more of a thought notebook than a book). But this one is meant to be a bit more official… hopeful for Seminary Extension students in Southeast Asia. Hopefully, it will go okay.
I am seeking for this Introduction of Missions to be a bit less American in its logic. Missions in the US tends to focus on culture in its taxonomy (E-scale and P-scale designators for what is or is not missions). In the US where mission organizations dominate, not only Christian missions but determining what is Christian missions is built around culture. I really enjoy teaching Cultural Anthropology, but I consider a theological and ministerial tool, rather than a guide for determine what is Missions.
But things are a bit looser in Asia… even more so with Diaspora missions, Bivocational missions, and Short-term missions. Add to that cybermissions, part-time missions, and such and the culture isn’t the best tool for separating missions from other ministries.
With this in mind, I am trying to develop a book on missions that is Church-centered. Church-centered does not mean Church only. I am a Baptist and in Baptist history there has been the tendency to consider the local church as God’s only vehicle for His work. As such, mission organizations and other organizations are considered to be without divine authorization. That is absolutely NOT what I believe.
Rather, I see missions in terms of its relationship to the local church. When the local church sends out a person, family, or team for God’s kingdom outside of itself (for God’s kingdom, not itself), that is Christian missions. Mission agencies may assist local churches in empowering, training, providing logistic support, member care, and accountability… but that role doesn’t change who is the sender.
Hopefully, the book will turn out okay. Shifting missions from being culturally-based to church-based really has a lot of ramifications including:
- Definition of Christian missions
- Definition of missionary
- Understanding of what it means to be “called” or “sent”
And more… Frankly, changing the above three really changes the whole field of study. We will see where it goes.