nations

Not Biblical, no longer helpful:

-”the 10/40 window,” “last frontier,””edge of lostness.” When the world was two-dimensional (and to most Christians, that was until very recently…), it made sense to think of people as places on a map and to put them into categories (population, religion, demographics, reached-ness, number of churches, accessibility, etc.). Today, people defy taxonomy; the world is dynamic. Tribes used to be discovered in uncharted corners of the world, now we’re discovering them hiding in globalized urban centers and on the internet.

-”Nations.” Yes, the Bible uses the word “nations.” But missiologists (actually anthropologists) have defined the therm to mean, “ethnolinguistic people groups.” But were there really people from every ethnolinguistic people group present on the day of Pentecost? What about third-generation Muslim immigrants in Paris?

-”Reached/Unreached.” As the church rediscovers her role as incarnatioal (rather than attractional) image-bearers, people are realizing that it’s better to go where God leads (through relationships, gifting, opportunity, interest, connects, etc.) than to engage a people simply because they are “unreached.” God orchestrates the church’s strategic missional engagement, so we need to forget what we think we know about who is “reached” and who is “unreached.”

And then there’s the ambiguity of the concept of “reaching” people….

It’s time to replace the old missions vocabulary with a new one.

When I was in college, my friends that wanted to be missionaries were really into John Piper. He wrote a book called “Let the Nations Be Glad” in 1993 that really challenged popular thought concerning missions and God’s gloy. The basic premise was the God is mostly concerned with His glory. God is a jealous God, and His greatest desire, according to Piper, is that all the nations of the world worship Him. Piper makes the application to global missions by saying that the goal of the Church’s mission is that all nations worship God. I recommend the book to anyone who hasn’t read it.

About that same time, a guy named Jeff Lewis (the professor of missions at Cal Baptist, not sure what he’s up to these days) was making the rounds talking and teaching at Christian Universities about “God’s Heart for the Nations.” He built on Piper’s idea that the main reason for human existance is that we would worship God, and that our act of worship ought to be leading others to worship Him as well. Lewis was also really into people group research, and was therefore focused on the 10/40 window. His teachings had a profound influence; not only on my “Mission Friends” (get it?), but also on the IMB. In 1998, the Board adopted its “New Directions” campaign and strategy change, shifting it’s focus from countries to ethno-linguistic people groups. This “paradigm shift” echoed Jeff Lewis’ call for the Board to take the focus off of “reached” people groups and to concentrate it’s efforts and resources on the “unreached.” In fact, Jeff’s study on “God’s Heart for the Nations” can still be found here at the imb.org website.

Anyway, Jeff asks the reader again and again to consider:
“Start Pondering … What is God’s ultimate passion? Not His only passion, but what is His chief end? When everything is eliminated but one, what is His central motivation?”

I’d like to hear what you all think about this. I’ll post more thoughts in a couple of days.