Posts Tagged ‘History’

Historic Gatherings of 2010

December 3, 2010

Unbeknown to many, the year 2010 is a historic year for Christian Gatherings.  This year a number of meetings commemorated the 1910 Edinburgh meeting that effectively launched the modern ecumenical movement, focused on World Evangelization. If you trace the global missions gathering, you can go all the way back to William Carey, who called for a meeting of this kind in 1810. That meeting never materialized, so 1910 is the date most recognized.

*So here are four conferences that occurred in 2010 that brought together Christians to talk about missions:

Toyko 2010 – This was the brain child of Dr. Ralph Winter, and took place in May of 2010  (one year after his passing).  The major distinctives of the conference were 1) its focus on unreached people groups, 2) attendees from sodalities and 3) planning and attendance largely from the non-Western world.  The major accomplishments of Tokyo 2010 were 1) the Tokyo Declaration: a reclaiming of John Mott’s vision of “Making Disciples of Every People in Our Generation” and 2) the establishment of a global collaboration effort towards reaching all peoples – the Global Network of Mission Structures (GNMS).

Edinburgh 2010 – was held from June 2-6 and was very ecumenical as well as culturally diverse.  The WCC (World Council of Churches) was the primary ecumenical community launched by Edinburgh 1910.  It was understandable that the WCC was so prominent in this centennial celebration. The conference was limited to 250 invitations which enabled the delegates to work together face to face on common documents (as opposed to the others that did most of the work before).  A major criticism of Edinburgh 2010 is that it was so concerned with ecumenical issues and unity, that it neglected the idea of evangelization and missions.

Cape Town 2010 – commemorated Carey’s desire for a meeting in Cape Town from October 16-25.  It was the longest (8 days), largest (4,000 delegates) and most publicized of the four meetings.  Cape Town provided the most access to its meeting through online live videos, twitter, a blog and Facebook. The meeting was sponsored by the Lausanne movement (that has its roots from Billy Graham and John Stott in 1974) as well was the WEA (World Evangelical Alliance – also birthed from Edinburgh 1910).  Lausanne is ecumenical in participation with its focus on worldwide evangelization.  The goal was to further partnership and participation in global evangelization.

Boston 2010 – occurred November 4-7 and was smaller compared to Tokyo and Cape Town.  This was a meeting planned by and for the academics -professors, seminary students and others.  It looked much like an EMS meeting in that it was largely presenting research and receiving comments.  The conference was the only of the four not to be by invitation, and was much cheaper than the others.  Planners hoped it would accomplish a movement of mission activists in the vein of The Student Volunteer Movement and Mount Herman One Hundred.

Along with the conferences, two major book projects are being released.  Operation World is a daily prayer guide through country by country issues newly updated.  The other is a scholarly evaluation of worldwide Christianity, The Atlas of Global Christianity.

*This is a more detailed description from Biola professor Dr. Allen Yeh published in the IJFM.  Here are two Mission Frontiers issues that also include these events: May/June 2010 & July/August 2010.  I also found a listing of these four major events along side of some of the less known conferences of 2010 here.


Mission Movements – Reflections from the 1200’s-1400’s

February 5, 2010

Thinking and reading about mission/renewal movements within the Catholic church pre-Reformation (another renewal movement with tremendous success.)

The following is Dr. Paul Pierson (Fuller Theological Seminary) through his book, Dynamics of Christian Mission

“new mission movements are nearly always initiated by key leaders – men or women who have gone dep in thier life iwth God and consequently felt His heartbeat for the world and then have communicated their vision to other” (p.108)

“mission and renewal movements virtually always arise on the periphery of the boarder Church.  Often, but not always, they are lead by laypersons.” (p.109)

“The historical reality is that every movement, no matter how it began, will become institutionalized and fall into the danger of losing its original vision and vitality.  None is exempt from that danger.” (p.109)

“Often a movement of renewal or mission makes theological rediscoveries … and are often accompanied by new patterns of leadership selection and training.” (p.112)

“a missiological entrepreneur is one whose vision goes beyond that of the dominant Church and mission structures of the time, and who consequently creates new movements to implement the vision.” (p.118)

Examples he gives: Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, Samuel Mills, Hudson Taylor, Cameron Townsend, Ralph Winter.  On top of his preceding list I would add: Donald McGavarn, the reformation leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as others.

Good stuff.  Continue the conversation with me.

Missiological Implications of the Intertestamental Period

June 19, 2009

This summer my wife and I are going through Foundations of the World Christian Movement, a 3 hour all of history overview course.  It follows similar path of the program we run called INSIGHT.  It is a lot of Dr. Winter’s missiology.

This week we’ve been reading about the time before Jesus comes to the scene called the Intertestamental Period.  Here are two major missiological implications of this time period:

  • Diaspora: The diaspora set up the possibility for God’s chosen people to be spread out all around the region.  It is said that God’s word was taught in all the cities.  Had the Northern and Southern Kingdoms not been taken over, the people of God would have been geographically isolated.   These spread out believers is who the 1st century missionaries like Paul and Peter went to first.  In these synagogues across the region people’s hearts were more ready to receive the truth that the Messiah had arrived.  The diaspora (along with the Septuagint {in detail below} ) made it possible for Gentiles to engage with truth before the ultimate truth (Jesus) came.  These “God fears” were the start of the Gentile church – greatly aided by the diaspora Jews.  A current missiological strategy could gather the local Christ-followers and make them catalysts for the spread of the gospel.  Most missions tend to neglect the local Christians and toss their nominal faith aside, rather than re-light a fire within them.  Another strategy could be proposed out of this example is saturation.  This is where we infuse an area with a large number of Christ followers and hope they share their faith with their neighbors.
  • Septuagint: The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Old Testament, put together during this time of Hellenization (see Alexander the Great).  The meaning of the ancient role of the Septuagint for modern missionary strategy concerns the language and culture of the people being served. The Septuagint was seen as attractive to the Romans because they could go and hear Greek being read and learn the language. It was a felt need that the early church and synagogues used. Usually the Jews made these “God fearers” sit in the back because of their ethnocentrism (a practice we should not repeat), but nevertheless Roman citizens were exposed to the truth. I think there is a missiological correlation with using the Bible to teach English.  This strategy has been widely used in China and other such closed countries where “English teachers” will come into to Universities, schools, or just neighborhoods and teach English using the truth. While I have not participated myself, from reports it seems like this strategy helps open people to receive the truth and use one on one mentor relationships to challenge individuals/families to faith and further disciple them (in both English and God’s word).

    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 2 – “Eric Liddell: The Flying Man” – Mark Harris

    December 12, 2008

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

    First off, for a great full book on the story of the great Olympian and missionary to China, Eric Liddell, read “Eric Liddell: Pure Gold” by David McCasland.  Harris’ article starts with the popularized version of Eric Liddell, the movie “Chariots of Fire” and then announces the development and arrival of the sequel to “Chariots of Fire” called “The Flying Man.”  This sequel is a American/Chinese film collaboration made professionally as a tool to share the gospel through the story of Eric Liddell.  After announcing said movie, the article launches into the missional life Liddell lead, being born to missionaries serving in China and returning to China to serve himself after the 1924 Olympics.  It gives details on his time in China (that I will allow you to read yourself in the short article or in the full book.)

    Two things from the article elaborated on what I already knew from the Pure Gold book.  1) “The Flying Man” movie 2) the reverence the Chinese people have today for this historic person that served their people.

    “The Flying Man” release is being timed according to the dual hype of the ’08 Olympics of China and the 2012 Olympics in London.  Both geographic locations themselves Liddell spent significant time in, but even more so, the combination of the two is almost a representation of Liddells’ life (Again, born in China, childhood in England, returned to China.)  It seems like this is going to be more than just a cheesy Christian movie.  In another report, I heard they were bringing along big time actors, producers, sound guys and asking for professionals in the entertainment industry to collaborate on the project.  I look forward to the release of the movie, hopefully in 2010 or 2011.

    The other intriguing part of the article (already knowing the story line) is Chinese people’s respect and adoration of this man.  Interesting pieces:

    -Despite the project costing over a million dollars, the Chinese government paid to have Liddell’s house restored and preserved.
    – On the site of the internment camp Liddell died at (Weihsien), the Chinese govenment placed a stone monument honoring him.
    – TV networks in China have produced their own documentaries of Eric’s life and service to China.
    – There is a Chinese station that replays the original “Chariots of Fire” over and over
    – The Chinese government allowed a publishing of “Running the Race: Eric Liddell — Olympic Champion and Missionary” by John Keddie. For the government to allow an overtly Christian book is amazing.

    So read the article, buy the book, pray for China and the legacy of Liddell to live on.