Thinking Here Like There
When we relocate abroad to be missionaries it changes all of the rules of engagement and strategy. We begin to think and do odd things. We take in inordinate amount of time looking to become an “insider.” We look for persons of peace. We hammer through contextualization not only in how we teach and proclaim the gospel but in how we demonstrate the gospel. We exegete our cities and communities. We again put on our contextualization goggles when it comes to gathering new believers together for instruction, discipleship, worship, and prayer. We think and talk about movements and exponential multiplicative growth. There are a myriad of other missionaries skills that we embrace and live out.
But, when it comes to church planting in North America we simply jettison most things in the above paragraph and immediately begin planning for “launch Sunday” and all efforts are focused on making a trendy and entertaining worship gathering. Even when confronted with these truths and dichotomy church planters are quick to point out that here we simply do church like we’ve always done in the West. Church planters seem to can’t wait until they can get an office and move in with their books so they can spend fifteen hours a week studying and writing their sermons. Seemingly a bulk of the rest of their time then is dedicated to the Sunday gathering ... pushing social media, coordinating graphic design and other media, picking out the song list (and tweeting about it), and so on.
Am I being harsh? Yes. Why? Because if we sent a missionary over there we would chastise them if they did those same things if they were in Paris or Copenhagen or Tokyo or Singapore. So what’s the disconnect? Where’s the rub?
We can talk the talk about missionary thinking for over there but until we are truly ready to think and act like a missionary at home we’ll continue on in the same trajectory that we’re on. Big cool gatherings for the mostly convinced where apart from the upfront leaders most of the church is a passive spectator. But if we actually viewed our home turf as a mission field it would begin to change everything ...