Chapter 1

Chapter One: Mission

Additional information, discussion, and resources

More About Mission

Defining the concept of mission and then relating it to theology made this a particularly difficult chapter to write in the given space. Mission is more than simply sharing the Gospel message, but going out and living it. In other words, our reflection on theology helps us become like Christ as we go and do his mission. However, I often found myself reducing mission to the narrow sense of merely sharing a message. Sometimes living the Gospel can be much more difficult than simply relating the theology of the message. For more on mission, check out Friend of Missional.

Biblical and Systematic Theology

The theology definitions I provided in this chapter were a bit underdeveloped and simplified. For a more comprehensive treatment, see the Treasures Old and New blog.

Christianity Today has an interesting article relating to the approach of missionaries when sharing the Gospel in another culture and its implications for us in our own context today.


Assuming they survive the initial contact (which no
one takes for granted anymore) the missionaries spend a great deal of
effort to learn the tribal language and culture. They work at building
relationships so that when it comes time to share the Good News, people
listen instead of chasing after them with machetes. Apparently food and
medicine help a lot with this, at least according to the movie.

Okay, so once they understand the language and
culture and have built relational bridges with the people, they begin
to share the message of salvation. Now comes the interesting
part—during this process, behavioral issues are very low in priority.
Rather than being “sin police” the missionaries view themselves as
ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). If they focus on behavioral problems, such as idolatry or sexual sin, it can be very counterproductive.

Ron recounted instances where the missionaries got
the tribal people to do all the right things. You know, little things
like wearing clothes, not murdering their neighbor, stuff like that.
But for all their success in making the natives civilized, the gospel
never took hold. The people did what the missionaries wanted, because
they saw the benefits of cooperating. Frankly, it really amazes me what
a well-timed gift of a cast-iron pot can do. But the people they were
trying to reach never internalized the gospel and the result was
tragic. Why did these efforts at evangelism fail? Because instead of
looking with compassion on tribal people those particular missionaries
viewed them as inferior or even “evil” and needing to be “fixed.”

2 thoughts on “Chapter 1

  1. Tom G.

    I’m afraid you excerpt of the CT article shed mostly shadow on your subject (probably since I haven’t read your book), but I di click over to read the article. I was surprised the article’s segue into homosexuality and the Church’s treatment of gays, which, need I say, the author finds horrendous? No surprise there!

    Personally I am a bit lost on the whole issue. I know a number of gays and no radical queers (their own term BTW). I have spent time speaking with them on a variety of issues relative to gays in American society, etc., and I am perplexed as to what to do with them. They are uniformly really nice guys. And what woman doesn’t LOVE an openly gay man? :}

    Dealing with gays today is not like Paul’s command to Timothy, that a bishop be the husband of one wife so if he has two it’s fine, he just can’t be a bishop. Do we “allow” openly gay people into our church only so long as they are getting counseling and going to SA or something like that? They can sing in the choir as long as they don’t sway while singing?

    I don’t know what the answer is unless we completely change the definition church. From “the called-out ones” to “the really, really tolerant and indulgent ones”, maybe?

    I am coming to the opinion that there is no “one answer for all.” I’m thinking I’ll probably just take a “wait until the end of the world and let God sort it out” approach (Matt. 13: 24-30). But in the meantime, I know I don’t want to see my local baptist church doing an evangelistic outreach with the local Metropolitan Community Church.

    But then, I used to be addicted to porn so who am I to throw stones? I didn’t get thrown out of church because I never publicly admitted it. But if I’d stood up every week to ask for prayer for my “problem”, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been asked to teach Sunday School!

    Sorry if I’m rabbling. Wish I had an answer to all this sinnin’ going on!

    God’s Best,

    Tom G.
    Author, Dealing with the Dragon


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