Good “Missional Grumpiness”?

As one who has been a missionary for closing in on 20 years, I can get grumpy on things for various reasons. For example, I feel the temptation to say, “THE JOSHUA PROJECT IS A WASTE OF TIME!!”

That may not be totally true. Focusing on people groups is not necessarily the most valuable thing today… and maybe it never was. But perhaps it inspires some churches and Christians to think more multi-culturally and and pray beyond themselves. (Or maybe it is simply a waste of time. Not sure.)

I can get grumpy in missions for a couple of reasons.

#1. I can get grumpy because I am set in my ways. I was trained in a certain way, and I practiced missions in a certain way, and I have a certain theology that I don’t want to question. So encouragement to change makes me grumpy.

#2. I can get grumpy because certain things in missions is taught as dogma (like UPGs and UUPGs) that seem to either not be true or at least isn’t helpful in may situations (or may have been useful before, but the time is passing.).

“Grumpiness” is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a SYMPTOM. But what happens when one has a symptom? A symptom is not a problem. A symptom points to a problem… or one of several problems. For example, a cough is not a problem. It is a symptom that points to one of several problems. It lets us know that there is something wrong and needs to be dealt with. Missional grumpiness is a symptom… but it can have more causes. I must take that symptom and reflect. Is there something in missions that needs to change? Is there something in me that needs to change? Either way, it points towards the need of positive change. So, I think that all grumpiness is… good— unless it is not addressed. Then it is bad.

I guess that is why I enjoyed a podcast recently, because it dealt (positively) with a lot of issues— challenging some missions dogma that truly needs to be challenged. The title of the podcast episode is ‘Glurbanization,’ Church Planting, and Why Our Definition of ‘People Group’ Is Outdated: Dr. Michael Crane. It addressed several ‘sacred cows’ in missions that I was already really conflicted about— and even brought up an issue or two that I hadn’t really thought through very much (like whether house churches are good, or bad, or ‘it depends’).

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