by C. Peter Wagner
Concise, practical information about what God is doing in the world today.
We live at a time when Christian mission activity far surpasses anything previously known. There have been other times during which the spirit of missions was high in the Western churches, But today three elements have been added that make our days unique: (1) a sharp rise in the foreign missions activity of churches in the Third World; (2) an unprecedented harvest in many places resulting in dramatic church growth; and (3) an explosion of missiological knowledge that is measurably increasing the effectiveness of our worldwide missionary force.
Recognizing this positive climate for missions, I felt that I could write a book which might make a helpful contribution to the cause (On the Crest of the Wave: Becoming a World Christian, Regal), In it I would try to increase the motivation for world evangelization among Christian people by providing them concise, practical information about what God is doing in the world today, I determined to make the book positive, because I have come to feel that reporting God’s work is more effective for Christian ministry than reporting Satan’s work. Furthermore, I believe that God spoke to me about four years ago and told me to avoid polemics.
My approach to accomplish that objective was first of all to let the reader know what is happening in the world out there. It encourages people because it lets them know that missionaries have been effective, that their money has been well spent, and that their prayers have been answered.
Following an upbeat introductory chapter, I felt there were several things that needed to be included. One was a chapter on the theology of missions, discussing not only biblical reasons for motivating world Christians to become involved in missions, but also the touchy issue of the relationship of evangelism to social responsibility. My argument follows the Lausanne Covenant by prioritizing the evangelistic mandate while not neglecting the social dimension. Because I hold a high view of the body of Christ, the role of spiritual gifts in missionary work needed to be developed in another chapter. I feel that while all believers ought to be world Christians, not all are called to be missionaries.
Then I sense that world Christians want to know just how the missionary enterprise is actually run. What makes it tick? Thus, I included a chapter on structures and organizations, another on the role of the home churches, and another on how strategy is planned once missionaries get to the field. I then discuss some of the more lively missiological topics of the day, such as contextualization, theological education by extension, research methodology, short-term service, and Third World missions.
For the first time in any of my books, I have included a chapter on the relationship of supernatural signs and wonders to the worldwide spread of the gospel. My attempt here is to deal with phenomena such as healing the sick and casting out demons in a straightline evangelical context that is non-Pentecostal and non-charismatic, although my research data comes almost entirely from Pentecostal and charismatic sources. I believe we have now entered into what I like to call the "Third Wave" of the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit in the 20th century, and that this power may turn out to be the most important ingredient for fulfilling the Great Commission in our generation.
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