What we need in our sending into frontier missions situations is “stripped down missions.” As opposed to carrying our cultural baggage with us, we need to get light and lean in this area in order to have the best chance of breaking through.
As we go out encountering the last unreached peoples of the world (there are still over 7k groups totalling well over 2 billion people), more of the same from the past eras of mission simply will not work.
This goes for both those who are crossing into near cultures and those crossing into distant, far cultures. Both have unique challenges and advantages.
I am still a believer, as I believe others should be also, in the whole Church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world. But this ideal presents unique challenges as well. They are challenges that can be overcome if we are willing to lay down our own agendas and take up a more “Kingdom” centered agenda that is looking to see the Gospel come alive in the context of the where we are sent, rather than replicating that which we know and are most comfortable with.
As we come and go, we will be tempted to replicate what we have seen, experienced, and learned in our own cultures (whether they be American, African, Latin, Korean, Filipino, Singaporean or otherwise). We have to make a deliberate decision not to do this. We have to help our supporters understand what our real goals are and manage those who believe that our goal should be to replicate their model in a new mission field.
“Stripped Down Missions” means that we don’t need to carry our “pre-fabricated” materials designed to build out our own home models in our new contexts.
Rather, “stripped down missions” carries with it a bag of strategic principles, tools to initiate a work. Its goal is that this work would be indegenized and owned locally.
Looking to what is still remaining to be done to see that each remaining unreached and especially unengaged people has the ability to not only hear the Gospel but also have access to a Christ centered fellowship in their own culture, we must decide beforehand how we will go and what we will take with us to do the work God has assigned.
What you bring, your unique “flavor,” may be good back home but it may not work well or translate in the frontiers of mission.
The question you must ask yourself is how can I take what I know, what I have learned, what God has shown us, and distill it down to core principles that are ready and prepared by God to relate to any culture?
One you have these written out, the goal should then be to allow those principles or truths to be “incarnate” or literally to put on the flesh of the local culture as much as possible.
Once you have done the essential missions task of bringing the Gospel to those who have not yet heard and making disciples, the decisions are in the hands of the new believers as you help guide them and direct them to choose “forms” that are closest to their OWN host culture, not yours.
As you work with new believers, you can explore together how those “forms” can be infused with new meaning. It is also important to keep in mind not just the new believer but also their family and the make up of the “core” people around them.
How will they best receive the Good News? How can it best flow naturally through the family lines?
Part of the role of “stripped down missions” is to also explore what must be rejected, especially in the area of idolatry, trust, and allegiances.
Rather than simply telling, a person carrying a “stripped down missions” strategy will lead through Bible discovery and experience before dogmatism.