Four Things the Western Mission Movement Needs To Pay Attention To

The modern Western mission movement has seen huge success over the past 200 or so years. But now, partly to the efforts of that movement, the world has changed dramatically and if Western missions are to remain relevant they will need to make some radical changes. I would like to suggest that there are three areas in particular that we need to pay attention to.

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Mourning

Mourning is something that many western cultures don’t do well.  Unlike our Mediterranean neighbours, or more expressive people from tropical climes, we think holding our feelings in check is a Good Thing.  “Stiff upper lip, old boy.”

Christians are often even less inclined to mourn than others, because we have a sure and certain hope that our departed have gone to be with Jesus.  We use terms like “promoted” to express our positivity.  I was even once told by a family member at a funeral that we were not going to cry, because it was a happy day of celebration for our friend who had gone to a better place.  Which left me with a lot of grief and no outlet for it. Sometimes we need to express our emotion and have a good wail.

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Obedience

“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

After 10 years of working in the civil service, as I was watching a James Dobson film, God gave me a strong desire to be a teacher. I had no A levels, never mind a degree, and a wife and young family to support so it seemed a crazy idea. However, when God speaks into your heart it is simply a question of whether you will obey or not. I did obey that call and became a Primary school teacher and then was involved in Initial Teacher Education for 16 years.

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Living authentically

“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy 4:6-7

Do Paul’s words inspire you with a vision for your life? Are they a source of motivation? Or do they fill you with a sense of inadequacy, or maybe even guilt?

If I’m honest, over the years I’ve experienced all of these feelings as I’ve contemplated Paul’s no-holds-barred faithfulness. Could I EVER live a life like that? What would it look like for me to be faithful for a lifetime?

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Self-care

I have written many times about the need for mission workers to be actively supported by their church, agency, family and friends – all of whom are very important for the resilience and fruitfulness of the mission worker.

However, the provision of intentional, pre-emptive, supportive care does not absolve mission workers from caring for themselves!  With millennials in the mission field, who are accustomed to more attentive parenting, workplace nurturing and personal mentoring, there may be an expectation of higher standards of support than were previously considered appropriate.  We need to lovingly remind mission workers that they are not children, they have been selected for their ability to thrive in the mission field, and have been trained to withstand the challenges of life in demanding places.

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Build a RAFT!

We have written about the challenges of re-entry on a number of occasions but so far we have not introduced our readers to the RAFT. This helpful analogy was introduced by David Pollock who was an expert in transition. His point was that the RAFT helps us leave well, so that we don’t feel we have unfinished business when we arrive back in our passport country.

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What is not held by faith

Much of our world is divided into two. In the majority world, we are told that there are two kinds of NGOs working; faith based, and ‘not-faith-based’. Christians tend to go along with this terminology. ‘We’ are the ones doing faith-based development. Other people are doing the ‘real-thing’, the development that is not just based on faith! Because theirs is the ‘real thing,’ whereas ours is just a faith-based imitation, we look up to ‘them’ as better and setting the pace.

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Passion for Mission Reflections 1

This is the first of a series of blogs from Phil Prior on the Global Connections event “A Passion for Mission”, which took place on the 8th June 2017 at All Souls, Langham Place.

The theme was “God’s Mission in a Time of Transition. What is the role of the UK in mission today in a world that has changed so much and continues to change?”Read more

Reverse Missiology: An Introduction

Passion for Mission Speaker 2017 Israel Olofinjana writes on the concept of “reverse mission”, which is becoming more and more relevant for the church today.

If you live in an urban part of the UK, you have probably noticed the many African, Latin American, Caribbean and Asian churches and Christians in Britain. Perhaps you’ve wondered why all these people are coming and starting churches in the UK?

One popular phrase used to describe this activity is ‘reverse mission’, but what is reverse mission, and why is it a controversial term?Read more