hear, hear!

Dave is absolutely right on this one. I commend it to you.

From my perspective, it is less selfish to plant churches in America than it is too pride ourselves about a well-lit missionary board that is conveniently dark in the area right around our church.

In addition to his call for church planters, we need young families to go with them and give themselves to the task of fulfilling Christ’s commands.


if the shoe fits…

Dave Doran has a post on the subject of missionary pastors. Here is his description:

One major concern I have is regarding the too common practice of missionaries serving as the long-term pastor of a mission church. I’m not speaking about the short-term practice of planting a church and serving it until it can call a pastor. I’m concerned about the practical reality that some men are essentially serving as a pastor on the mission field while remaining supported by churches back in their sending country. I’ve seen cases where the same man has served as the pastor of a mission church for decades—so long, in fact, that the church itself would no longer really consider itself a mission church. The congregation looks and acts mainly like an independent congregation, but its pastor is actually supported by other churches, not them.

In principle, I think I agree with Dave on this concern. His point resonates with me, because in many ways, “I resemble that remark.” I am a missionary pastor. I am (in part) supported as a missionary. I have served at our mission church now for literally decades (25 years this last August).

I say that I agree with Dave’s concerns ‘in principle’, but I would like to point out some factors that in my mind must be taken into consideration on this question. This isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ question.

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cost of independence

Writing in support of the Southern Baptist news service, Baptist Press, Philip Robertson highlights the cost of independence to the Independent Baptist churches (largely fundamentalists).

It is a plan that unifies. With regard to missions, the old adage is true, "We can do more together than we can do individually." While I have many independent Baptist friends, I am not an independent Baptist, because I believe in the Cooperative Program. After all, what is it that sets the Southern Baptist Convention apart from other denominations who are doctrinally and theologically like-minded? The Cooperative Program unites us around a specific plan to fulfill the Great Commission. Churches in other denominations share a common cause, but they don’t necessarily share a common plan. Our commitment to the Word of God and the plan of Cooperative Program missions really is the glue that uniquely binds our convention together.

The contrast between the strengths of the SBC Cooperative Program and the weaknesses of our independent churches, mission boards and missionaries and our faith missions deputation practices highlights one of the most important costs of the fundamentalist flight from the denominations some years ago.

The fundamentalist position at the time was that independence for the sake of preserving purity of the faith was worth the cost of losing the power of cooperative efforts like the CP. As a missionary, I have often wished for a more efficient means of raising support and maintaining a mission ministry. But if it were in the SBC CP, for example, I would also be linked in with the likes of Rick Warren and others whose theological/ecclesiastical positions I would find more than distasteful.

There is a cost to independence, but in my mind, the cost is well worth it, if independent churches can maintain orthodoxy.


God’s work in Mongolia

I have mentioned my friend Scott Dean before. I’d like to encourage you to read some news about the Lord’s work in his ministry recently.

It all began with a prayer request last week, then three posts on God’s answer to those prayers:

Praise the Lord for this good news!


another missionary leave-taking story

My recent posts reminded me of the story of Marcus & Narcissa Whitman, missionaries to Walla Walla, WA in the 1840s. Some have been critical of their mission and methods. It seems to me their critics look at their efforts from the ‘wisdom’ and comfort of distance – a distance in years, the comfort of modern society. The Whitman’s gave their lives for Christ, giving the gospel to the natives of what what would become the Walla Walla area, and pouring out their lives and skills ministering to spiritual and physical needs of all who came their way. This is the story of their departure to the mission field.

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Hudson Taylor on missionary parents

As a follow-up to my post, ‘praying for missions’, a friend sent me this bit on Hudson Taylor’s parting with his mother as he first went to China. Of course, in Taylor’s day, the parting meant the real possibility of never seeing, never hearing, never conversing again in this life. Today, at least, missionaries even in remote areas can at least have some regular communication with home by way of telephone or e-mail.

This is from The Growth of a Soul, vol 1 of Hudson Taylor’s biography by Howard and Geraldine Taylor, son and daughter-in-law of Hudson Taylor. The excerpt comes from pp. 186-187.

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praying for missions

My friend Scott Dean has a moving post reminding us to pray for a missionary’s parents as well as the missionary. I think this is worth remembering, especially for missionaries in far-flung and difficult to access places. My parents are visiting with us this week. My mission field is almost in our back yard, so to speak (I can drive to my parent’s house in a day, if I have to). But for those in remote areas, Mongolia, for example, or many places in Africa, the South Pacific, etc, it is rare for parents to be able to visit their children. Yet these parents are among the most important ‘rope-holders’ a missionary has. Let’s lift them up in prayer also.


evangelism in Mongolia

I’d like once again to draw your attention to the blog of my friend and cohort, Scott Dean. He lives in the capitol, Ulan Bator, where he is starting a church. In this report, Evangelistic trip to Ovorkhangai, Scott reports on a trip to the countryside with one of his men, where they preached to people who have never heard.

May the Lord grant fruit for these labours! I would urge you to follow Scott’s ministry and support the Deans in prayer.


buying converts?

The CBC National newscast reports Christianity Comes to Thailand. But not in a way that we rejoice in, at least, not in some cases. Apparently some groups have been ‘buying conversion’. I can’t imagine anything more disappointing. How can anyone think this is the right thing to do?


a little plug for my friend in Mongolia

I’d like to call your attention again to my friend in Mongolia, Scott Dean. We pray for Scott every week. What a blessing to see gospel fruit in his ministry in a world so far and so different from my own.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3