Frontier vs. Regular Missions Part II

Today continues a three part series of defining missions, and showing the priority for frontier missions over regular missions.

Last entry I gave a personal story as well as worked through some definitions and gave some statistics. I wanted to lend my thoughts on the implications of Frontier vs. Regular and what missions means.

I mentioned that the word missions is far too over used. I would go on to say that the word is so over used that it loses its meaning.  No one is going to say that their mission is useless and no one is going to condemn another when the generalized term is used.  Using the previous definitions and the knowledge of the state of the world we must re-gain our focus and really do missions (frontier missions).  All of those other “missions” are good, but in order to see that all peoples have a chance to hear and respond to the gospel, we must focus our efforts on those areas completely without access to the gospel.

The question is of strategy. Should we keep sending our resources (people, money, prayer, etc.) to places where the gospel is planted and where individuals have an opportunity to explore the scriptures and have someone walk with them the path of faith (regular missions)?  Or would it be best to send these resources to places that have no witness at all (frontier missions)? If I had a dirty house with 10 rooms, would I get together all of my friends and spend all of my money and our time just to clean 6 of those rooms over and over and over again, leaving the other 4 rooms dirty? NO, that would make me a bad steward of my house, and I wouldn’t be able to say the house as a whole was clean.

So too with missions. We put so many resources into certain areas, completely neglecting the need for Christ throughout the world. Evangelism is great. We are all supposed to be a part of it. There are not those who are called not to share their faith. Evangelism is not a special calling that you have but a gifting of the Holy Spirit from re-birth. Evangelism should not soften the word missions.

How many new followers to Christ are there everyday in America? In China, about 30,000 people are coming to Christ daily. Can you imagine the impact more resources would have on this place? There are still so many who have not been presented the gospel. Most people in America have heard the gospel; but world-wide, last year alone, 120 million people were presented the gospel for the first time ever. Can you believe that there are that many people today who have not heard the gospel, and that was just one year of first encounters with the Truth.  We need to pray and take care that we are good stewards of God’s Kingdom.  May we be like the men in the parable of the talents who expand their ruler’s kingdom (Matthew 25:14-30).

I leave you again with the words of the greatest missionary:

“thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
-Romans 15:20-21

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2 Responses to “Frontier vs. Regular Missions Part II”

  1. Derrick Says:

    Overall, good posts.

    As much as I largely agree with you, I think we must be careful. While there are obvious discrepancies that need to be resolved, we ought to be more cautious before condemning too much of ‘regular’ missions. First, we define ‘missions’ ourselves, making dogmatism difficult. Second, while I am not certain this is the case, we must leave open the possibility that God really isn’t sending to certain places right now, perhaps in judgment, perhaps strategically (He knows more, and has a way of doing things that make us go, ‘huh’?). Third, it cannot biblically be asserted that every, or even most called field workers are called to ‘frontier/Pauline’ type ‘missions.’ Paul in Romans, Acts, and elsewhere is giving descriptions and passions related to his specific call, not another’s. Obviously, in a great way, his descriptions of his own call are related to the commission of every local church. However, within the broader ‘Mission’ there are those like Timothy and Titus and others, whose ministries are just as legitimate, though not immediately ‘frontier.’

    Does the Bible lead us to believe there is a modern imbalance? I believe so. Does the commission of every church include a call to facilitate the movement of the Gospel to ‘unreached’ (usually by our own definition) peoples? Absolutely. Does this mean that there will not be a very large amount of legitimately called ‘regular’ missionaries, even of the Timothy and Titus sort? No. Many of them are still involved broadly in ‘frontier’ missions, only a different, though biblical, phase of it.

    Let us passionately lift up the eyes of those who are ignorant, but let us do it in the most non-condemning way possible. Then, let us allow the Lord of the Harvest to lead and send in ways He sees fit, even though they may not neatly fit within our paradigms.

    • Adam Hoffman Says:

      Derrick, thanks for your post. My intentions were to avoid condemning regular missions (it is God’s work, thus needs to be recognized as such). I wanted to illustrate the greater imbalance that exists. I did not mean that frontier missions was better than regular missions, or that all were called to frontier missions; only that most people are doing regular missions, neglecting frontier missions.

      An issue that is related to this conversation is to ask the question, “Are there cases where missionaries are doing regular missions in places where the indigenous church would be better for the work?”

      Timothy and Titus were enabling the growth of a church that was not yet built up. They were not pastors who were taking the role of capable members of the community.

      I agree with the last section of your comment. To God be the Glory.

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