In recent months questions have arisen about the validity of indigenous church principles in relation to modern missionary work.
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The mistake is easy enough to make. The hotel is comfortable, familiar. Outside, floods of new cars, smog, some skyscrapers, good restaurants, all overwhelming, occasional glimpses of the palace moat, or the curving roof of a shrine. How Westernized the Japanese are! How similar to us! And yet…
I. THE CHURCH IN CRISIS During the twenty-five years following World War II, most countries in Asia underwent drastic transformations. The result has been the formation of a Westernized, secularized, urbanized Asian society in which the conflicting values of the East and West, ancient and modern, have been thrown together without a common framework for integration.
Especially within the realm of evangelical missions, many eyes are turned toward an intriguing phenomenon: the “extension seminary” for short—more properly, “theological education by extension”—is in center stage. Rarely has such a basic alteration of institutional modes moved so rapidly, hopscotching its way completely around the world.
The church in the Third World is awakening to the fact that some of the models imported by missionaries from their sending countries are failing to meet the need of growing churches. In an open letter to mission executives from key Asian leaders, the concern was expressed for the growing crisis in theological education.
Have you ever wondered how missionaries can train a professional person in the Word of God? In Buenos Aires, Argentina, twenty years ago a Bible institute came into being for the purpose of preparing professional people for the ministry of the gospel. This school has been continuing with an expanding ministry.
Once upon a time there was a wonderful, wonderful club. It was called The Membership Club. The only purpose for its existence was to gain more members. Here is a sample of the Constitution.
In Europe and North America it is customary for churches to support a full-time professional pastor. It is natural for missionaries coming out of this background to duplicate it. But is the traditional system best for church growth?