A Framework for a New Era of Missions

EMQ » January–April 2024 » Volume 60 Issue 1

Kompong Chnang, Cambodia: Craig Greenfield speaks with several children. Photo courtesy of Craig Greenfield.

Summary: When every geopolitical nation has a gospel presence, what is the role of an outsider in helping the global Church to continue to grow? How do outsiders, especially from the West, remain faithful to God’s call to love their global neighbors and use wisdom to know how best to serve?

By Craig Greenfield

For many, missions is the story of heroes, martyrs, and gospel advance. For others, it’s the story of colonialism and missionary disasters. At the same time, the context of global mission has changed drastically. The church has spread to every geopolitical nation, and more people from more nations are participating than ever before. The era of the West to the rest is over.

Is there still a place for outsiders, particularly Westerners, to serve in cross-cultural mission? Does this cause more harm than good? How do outsiders now remain faithful to God’s call to love our neighbors – both across the street and across the oceans?

I’ve lived in slums and inner cities as an outsider among the poor for twenty years. I’ve led humanitarian organizations, a global missions agency,[i] and now a grassroots youth movement (called Alongsiders)[ii] that is truly making the world a more beautiful place.

So, I am passionate about finding ways to frame and communicate God’s call to engage in ways that fit today’s realities. Perhaps the framework I have developed to understand the role of outsiders, including Westerners like myself, will be helpful for you and your context, as it has been for many others. But first, let me give you a glimpse of my story…

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