Cross cultural missions has changed a lot from the days of heroes like Adoniram Judson and Hudson Taylor.
These men of faith left their homes on boats with the thought of never returning to Western shores. They lost wives and children to diseases. If they wanted to communicate, they had to write letters that would take months to arrive to their destination. Many of them labored for nearly a decade before they had their first believer. They did it all; from learning language, whole Bible translation, writing, medicine, building, and more.
The information age has changed everything and missions is no exception.
We know more about the needs of the world and those who have never heard the Gospel more than ever before in human history. Our understanding of missions work is the most informed it has ever been and that information has led to the creation of new roles in missions work.
One of the main roles to have emerged in the last couple of decades has been that of “Strategic Coordinator.”
These God-appointed advocates for the unreached stand up among the courts of believers, Western or otherwise, and demand the right for the unreached peoples of the world to have an opportunity to hear the Gospel and have life giving churches planted among them.
They also advocate for indigenous and culturally appropriate forms of communication, conversion, and church rather than importing Western church cultures.
Their role can be both residential or non residential.
In his book “The Non Residential Missionary” David Garrison calls the “SC” role the
“missing link in missions.”
Author Seth Godin might call some of them “linchpins.” He explains what he means by the term “linchpin” this way:
“There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.”
For the missions world, I believe that SC’s are the small but essential part of linking the Body of Christ together especially for the purpose of helping those populations have less than 1-2% believers among them.
Some of the best non residential SC coordinators are those who have cross cultural experience.
They are those who have paid a price to know and understand both the language and culture of the people or population segment for whom they are advocating. Some that do not have this experience are still very effective because of their passion and skill set that makes them effective advocates.
The SC role has now been adopted by many of the major denominations and missions organizations working globally.
It may have a different name and nuances, but there is no doubting that the role has become a huge part of the solution to get the Gospel to those who need it the most.
Hundreds of SC’s are working in a wide variety of organizations globally.
A large percentage of them are from the IMB or International Mission Board. From my perspective the IMB is one of the best organized group from the West focused on seeing movements emerge among the unreached.
They are very deliberate in their approach and well supported. They wrote a whole book about the transition to the SC role called “Strategy Coordinator.” They are tracking CPM’s (church planting movements) all over the globe.
However their weakness may be perceived as trying to propagate a denomination versus a strictly indigenous movement that is also “self-theologizing”, for lack of a better word. Some believe in the present day ministries of healing the sick, casting out demons, and spiritual gifts, while a majority don’t. I’m sure some of them might disagree with my assessment.
My Perspective and Role:
As I have been oversees and seen the needs for myself, I have always sought God on how he might be able to use me for his global cause. My life and gifts were available to him and my expectations have always simply been to serve him in the best possible way.
From my own personal perspective here in Thailand, the independent churches (charismatic or otherwise) have many times been full of faith and fire, but lacked a highly reproducible strategy for reaching those without Jesus and growing from just a small congregation into a CP movement.
Some that I’ve seen are good at drawing people into meetings but not very good at equipping their people to remain in their socio-cultural communities to bring Jesus to those who were once just like them, (ie) family and friends! Some were not very good at even drawing people to a meeting or sharing the faith in a natural way.
The charismatic church in general has lacked in missions strategy and organization. In our zeal and passion, we have done more harm than good at times. That would be my critique of our own “charismatic” flavored movements.
Based on these insights, the SC role is where I chose to begin to focus my attention.
I began to see the SC role as a great fit for what I believe God had called me to do in global missions. As an independent sent and supported from a local church and a few individuals, I have the flexibility to focus on what I feel are the greatest Spiritual needs of the nation and work across all organizational lines. This has been highly beneficial for us and for many who have connected with us.
Because we came to Thailand without a team, I began to eagerly seek out like minded friends from different parts of the country and form them into a network where we could share what God is doing, strategies, resources, and testimonies. We have been able to do that and more.
“Strategic And Catalyst”
When my wife and I were first married, I told her “I don’t know where we will end up in the world, but there are two words that I feel will define our ministry.
They are ‘strategic and catalyst.'”
When we look at what God has done with us in just three very short but exciting years, we can easily see the fulfillment of that word. We came into the understanding of the SC role even after we decided to obey God’s call to the unreached.
Our heart still is the “unreached” and now even more specifically outlined as the Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu majority worlds. Only one penny out of one hundred dollars given to missions goes to this part of the world.
We are honored not only to be called, appointed, sent, and supported to this part of the world by our local church and partners. But we are also willing and ready to continue in the role no matter what direction or location it may take us as a family.