Most people who know something about the late missiologist Ralph Winter, know about his Lausanne 1974 plenary address on unreached peoples (Winter 1975). Some know him from his reinvigorating the discussion about church and mission structures—which he called Sodalities and Modalities (Winter 1974). Still others know him because of his foundational work on Theological Education by Extension (TEE) in the 1960s (Winter 1969).
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Ultimately it is the church on the ground, the local community of believers, that is the critical expression of Christ’s love and power in the world. Made up of individuals who have personally placed their faith in Him, this bride of Christ must be the final basis for evaluating our efforts in evangelism. Scripture, early church history, examples of explosive growth of the church elsewhere, and often neglected media case histories all point to the fact that it is the local body of believers—living, working, and testifying together—that has been critical to the growth and multiplication of the Church.
Uber, iPhones, Airbnb, Netflix, and Amazon. The list goes on. Disruptive innovations are taking over traditional North American industries. The missions realm also needs consistent creative effective new ways for how we activate, recruit, and onboard new workers. The environment is ripe for unprecedented breakthroughs in mobilization collaborations in the North American missions’ enterprise.
A few years ago, my daughter texted me while she and her husband were traveling and praying about their future. She asked, “Dad, why does Christar require one hundred daily prayer partners for those who are serving long term?”
In 1900, Andrew Murray tackled the key question to the missionary problem as to why there were so few missionaries. In his report to the ecumenical missionary conference held in New York in April, he thought the answer was simple; it was the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Though I totally agree, I think there is much more to it than simply a Lordship question. I believe it is in how we, the church, view the cross.
Rites of Passage is a foreign concept to most evangelical churches, literally and figuratively. Somewhere along the way, the local church has lost this important value. Rites of passage are still common among institutions like fraternities and sororities, military and civic organizations. A few church traditions have kept this concept of development for their youth and new converts. The Catholic Church has baptism, catechism, and first Communion. The Jewish bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah still help young people move along the pathways of their faith. The Mormons (LDS) have elderships, Melchizedek priesthood, and the ever-present two-year mission after high school.
The Global Mobilization Network (GMN) believes mobilization is essential to calling the whole Church to committed participation in reaching the whole world.
In December 2015, more than two hundred forty leaders involved in mission mobilization from more than thirty countries gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for the second Global Mobilization Consultation (GMC). To better welcome many different kinds and styles of mobilization and mobilizers, this paper was written before the event in order to provide a simple but clear idea of mission, along with a broad, descriptive definition of mobilization emerging from scripture and practice. Leaders from several countries worked together to produce this paper, with some modifications made at the event. The lead author was Steven C. Hawthorne.
Information is powerful. We’ve all experienced moments where the discovery of a particular piece of information has radically shifted the direction of our lives. Many of us in the mission community had our lives transformed when we discovered the theme of God’s global mission that runs from Genesis to Revelation. The realization that God has always been a missionary God continues to challenge countless Christians to consider the direction and purpose of their lives. Or maybe it was the discovery of the unreached, that millions of souls lived beyond the reach of the local church and had little to no access to the gospel that was the watershed moment in your life. State of the World talks that educate and inspire Christians are a regular feature of mission conferences. Thankfully, God has raised up hard-working men and women who dedicate themselves to helping transform Christian worldviews through powerful and up-to-date information.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and peering into the rearview mirror of missions history, attempting to see it from God’s perspective, is a formidable, but exhilarating, endeavor. One modern thinker who has done a stellar job of helping us understand when, where, and how God has been at work over the centuries is missiologist Dr. Ralph Winter, founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission (now Frontier Ventures).