Before reading this little post, I hope you will take the time to read the excellent article:
“Be Patient, Missions is Urgent” by Josh Manley
An quote from this article worth meditating on is:
“Among other things, Paul’s priorities teach us this: The urgency of the mission requires patience to ensure that the integrity of the mission is not undermined. Undermined by what? Any method that sacrifices faithfulness on the altar of fast, or pastoral care on the altar of impressive numbers.”
Sloppy and fast has not only often been the methodology but even the rallying cry. Some might note the slogan of SVM ““The Evangelization of the World in This Generation” to AD2000 (“the largest, most pervasive global evangelical network ever to exist” -Ralph Winter) seeking “cooperation in establishing a church within every unreached people group and making the gospel available to every person by the year 2000.” to DAWN’s “Saturation Church Planting.” I am NOT saying any of these organizations were or are bad. Rather, the language of them can lead some people to embrace a manic behavior of missions, rather than one of planning and discernment.
Big programs with lofty dreams are… commendable… to a point. But they get wrongly understood by many.
Bigger is not Better
Faster is not More Effective
Jesus certainly did not use a Fast strategy. In fact, one could make the argument that He rejected a “fast strategy” rejecting public demonstration of his Messiahship at the temple, and rejection of a quick rulership of all nations (from His temptations in the Wilderness). One could further argue, that the success of Slow ministry during the first three centuries of the church, compares quite favorably with the Fast ministry strategy of the 4th century post-Constantine church.
Strangely, the article got me thinking about the Slow Food Movement. It is a move to localize food, focus on quality food, and ensure healthy/clean food. As such, it rejects much of the industrial food infrastructure. The theory is that slow food is healthier, is tied to a higher quality of life, and establishes a more harmonious relationship with the world. The key terms are “good,” “clean,” and “fair.” You can read about the movement at www.slowfood.com
For fun, let’s take the definition for one of their terms: NEO-GASTRONOMY
– Neo or ‘new’ gastronomy is a concept of gastronomy as a multidisciplinary approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, people and culture. The term was coined to correspond with the evolution of the Slow Food movement, which began with an initial aim to defend good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slower pace of life (eco-gastronomy), and then logically broadened its sights to embrace issues such as the quality of life and the health of the planet that we live on (eco-gastronomy).
Is there a point of correspondence here between Missions and Slow Food? Could missions become so focused on volume and speed, that it is producing sloppy, unhealthy churches and “believers” who are ill-equipped spiritually or socially to impact the world in a positive way? Is there a more holistic view of God’s Kingdom than missions as a multi-level marketing scheme?
Instead of Neo-Gastronomy, what about Neo-Missions? Or perhaps it is better to say “Archaeo-Missions. ” (One could argue that neo-gastronomy is also archaeo-gastronomy). One might come up with a definition that sounds a wee bit like the definition above:
Neo or ‘new’ missions is a concept of missions as a multidisciplinary approach to kingdom growth that recognizes the strong connections between faith, action, community and culture. The term was coined to correspond with the evolution of the Biblical Missions movement, which began with an initial aim to empower evangelism, discipleship and add savor (salt and light) in the world, and then logically broadened its sights to embrace issues such as human rights and other aspects of shalom on the planet that we live on.
Frankly, I think it is safe to say that the Fruit of the Spirit is most evidently a “slow food.”… good, clearn, and fair.