SYMPOSIUM RESPONSE #1: Balance in Mission Strategy

by Steve Sang-Cheol Moon

Ted Esler’s article is a careful missiological reflection on the unengaged paradigm. His argument for “robust missiological dialogue” is convincing. It is desirable that mission strategists and missiologists have more time for fellowship and dialogue. 

Ted Esler’s article is a careful missiological reflection on the unengaged paradigm. His argument for “robust missiological dialogue” is convincing. It is desirable that mission strategists and missiologists have more time for fellowship and dialogue. 

Esler’s article reminded me of the need for balance in strategizing missions. Basically, we need balance between different emphases and orientations, which is not necessarily a matter of right or wrong. Different individuals and organizations can rightly have particular commitments and foci, but need to respect the perspectives of other harvest forces. Let me suggest five areas in which we need balance.

First, we need balance between passion and reflection. Mission strategists and mobilizers are passionate, whereas missiologists are reflective. They need to learn from one another, and they need to complement and reinforce one another. 

Second, we need balance between regular missions and frontier missions. Pioneers of frontier missions did not promote frontier missions at the expense of regular missions. Missionary service in more receptive areas consolidates the foundation of frontier missions in the next generation. 

Third, we need balance between task-orientation and relationship-orientation. Strategists and mobilizers in the West tend to be task-oriented, whereas relationship comes before tasks in the Majority World. Mission consultations and forums need to set aside time for relationship-building to create a secure setting of dialogue before dealing with specific agendas. If this time isn’t set aside, then participants from the Majority World will be very careful not to pour cold water on the dominant opinions. 

Fourth, we need balance between a sense of urgency and a long-term perspective. Strategists of frontier missions carry a sense of urgency, especially in their “closure missiology,” which often provides churches and Christians fresh, motivating energy. Missiologists study mission academically so they tend to think broadly in their geographical scope and time span. We need both perspectives. The sense of urgency could raise the level of effectiveness and efficiency as long as it overcomes myopia. 

Fifth, we need balance between strategic planning and keeping in step with the Spirit. The approach of strategic planning can fall into the pit of artificial plans and campaigns unless it is controlled by the guidance of the Spirit. Missiologists need to pray more to be led by the Spirit in doing missiology. Mission strategists need to pray more to be guided by the Spirit before setting specific goals.

We need one another in order to keep balance better. We need to pay attention to what others say at the deep level. We need to respect different roles, commitments, and orientations in doing missions. In the process, let’s be careful not to claim a paradigmatic theory as the grand unified theory. 


Steve Sang-Cheol Moon is executive director of the Korea Research Institute for Mission. He is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with a PhD in intercultural studies.

EMQ, Vol. 51, No. 2 pp. 140-141. Copyright  © 2015 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.


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