Posts Tagged ‘evangelism vs works’

The Flying Man Pt 5: New Insights From Three Eras of Mission History by Robby Butler

December 30, 2008

(Read the original article published in the Nov/Dec edition of Mission Frontiers magazine)

This article is about the Perspectives course revision. The beginning paragraphs go over some of the milestones reached and influences of the course. The new revision is due January 2009. We were around when they were working 60-80 hour weeks editing and revision the reader. Also beginning in 2009, we as a staff will methodically go through the articles one by one and discuss their content. If you can’t tell we are excited about this.

The majority of Butler’s article covers concepts in the revision Dr. Winter’s article on the Eras of Protestant Missions. (NOTE: I have not read Dr. Winter’s revised article, I am simply reviewing this MF article.) Butler reviews the addition of a section comparing these eras with “kingdom mission” or “church mission.” You can read for your self the summary he gave of what kingdom and church mission are and how they apply to the three ears in missions.

Butler then takes Dr. Winter’s article and its kingdom/church mission definitions and critics each of them objectively. Butler says church mission often transforms individuals instead of communities and concentrates on salvation of the individual rather than the society. He says kingdom mission can be done without Christ (social action) and it is easy to get caught into just doing good things.

I think there is a need for the two to complement each other in order for mission strategy to be effective. The church, evangelism, development and society level change are all necessary for the true gospel to be preached.


The Flying Man Pt 4: How to Best Help China by Dr. Winter

December 23, 2008

(Read the original article published in the Nov/Dec edition of Mission Frontiers magazine)

Some of the themes discussed in my the last post will be repeated and elaborated on here. Again it is interesting to read Dr. Winter’s writings as he usually talks out the issues he writes about to our staff on Friday mornings. I remember him bringing up some of these issues and am learning his primary worldview.

Winter contrasts the lives and ministries of two China heroes. One is the famous missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, his less known contemporary is Timothy Richard.

First the similarities, both were evangelical in tradition and culturally sensitive (wore Chinese clothes and learned Chinese language.) Both were visionaries and pioneered organizations. Both also had a love for China, and devoted their lives to serving the Chinese people.

Since much is written about Taylor, Dr. Winter spends most of the article describing Richard and contrasting with known facts / practices of Taylor. Winter cited a history of missions book with information on both missionaries called These Sought a Country by Kenneth Scott Latourette.

The main dividing line concerns the issue of what do to on the field? Is it just service (a recent trend in developing organizations and the focus of North American people [read previous blog concerning these stats.]) Is it just evangelism and focusing on “the spiritual?” Or is it a combination of the two?

Taylor vehemently evangelized and concentrated all his eggs in this basket. He told his team members to not worry about planting churches, but only preach and evangelize. He strictly followed the Mark version of the Great Commission but seemingly neglected Matthew’s Great Commission covenant.

Richard on the other hand focused on evangelism with helping the people. Naming eliminating the horrible practice of foot-binding and developing nation-wide education. His strategy was to evangelize and sow widely, but focus and disciple those that favored the message. He developed leadership within the church structure and gained acceptance by community leadership and authority.

I have the utmost respect for Hudson Taylor and the things he did for China and the rest of the world. When it comes to strategy though, I am inclined to agree with Richard and have workers follow the more holistic model. To Taylor, I use him as an example of sacrifice and commitment to the task through his example. I also see him as an amazing mobilizer, getting more people to his go to China through his agency than all others.

What do you think? What are your impressions on both of these men and their strategies?

The Flying Man Pt 3: The Legacy of Love in China by Rick Wood

December 20, 2008

(Read the original article published in the Nov/Dec edition of Mission Frontiers magazine)

This short article gives a basic overview of mission history in China. I have two main reflections:

1) Wood borrowed a substantial amount of material from the online user-defined encyclopedia, Wikipedia. How amazing that this work is now being published in articles. It used to be that Wikipedia (online resources in general) were seen as unreliable and not scholarly enough to quote. Now it is beginning to be used more widely. A university recently did a study on the reliability and truthfulness of Wikipedia and found it to be more reliable and accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Amazing.

2) Onto the content of the article itself. I knew that missionary work in many places not only evangelized, but also served the people through practical means. Wood argues that both the educational and medical systems in China can attribute their foundation of these missionary endeavors. I do not believe that at this point in time China would not on its own model the current Western educational and medical systems; however I did not know that it was missionaries serving the Chinese people in the 19th and early 20th centuries that introduced sciences and pharmaceutical medicine to China.

What do you think / hear about going on today concerning mission work abroad? Do workers adequately serve the people through development? Is evangelism without service all unreached people groups need? How can we best glorify God and serve primarily Him in this context?