Majority World Missions – Part Two

The New Role of the Western Church

Samuel Escobar, in his book The New Global Mission: The Gospel From Everywhere To Everyone, says that “Christian mission in the 21st century has become the responsibility of a global church.” [1] The church, being the body of Christ, carries the responsibility to take the Gospel to all corners of the world.  The Bible does not say that westerners should only support and aid westerners in their efforts, it does say however that as believers, the body of Christ, the church must “make disciples of all nations.”[2] Therefore the global church must come together and support each other’s efforts and give God all the glory.

Many western mission agencies will not “hire” non westerners to serve in the mission field under their organization’s umbrella.  The few that do, tend to retain all of the decision making power.  This is because of the perceived danger of dependency that this type of relationship can create.  John Rowell believes that “the root of the problem may not lie in the evils some associate with biblically legitimate generosity, but in all the strings that we Westerners have been prone to attach to our giving.”[3]

As globalization brings all nations together, westerner believers should see themselves as part of the Global Church as opposed to the “elite” more experienced evangelists.  The western world needs to embrace the changes that are taking place and realize that their new role may now be one of support or aid to the new sending countries and their emerging mission agencies, and no longer the leaders in evangelism and mission.

Unfortunately the western world has allowed pluralism and materialism to seep its way into their beliefs and the west is now declining in their Christian beliefs and instead they are preaching a message of morality.  They have fallen away from the message of the gospel.  In his response to the guidelines raised in 2004 in the Lausanne convention, Howard Brant stated that he “challenged [him]self to get back to the basics that got us here. Faith, prevailing prayer, sacrifice, the word of God, and the gospel preached with faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.”[4]  This is the challenge for the west!  It is time for revival in the west.

In their “Perspectivas” article, Lee and Johnson speak of the need for the western church to take on a learner’s posture: In order for the Northern churches to take part in the new Global Church their theological seminaries need a diversified curriculum which includes history and theology from the non western churches, reversing the presumption that western Christianity has the spiritual and theological resources needed by the rest of the world.[5]

Conclusion

We are witnessing the changing scene of world missions today.  Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians and Africans are in the forefront sending and going to the ends of the Earth proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  These missionaries face many difficulties in part because they are from the third world majority.  They lack the training, the financial resources and in many cases the encouragement needed to remain on the field even when things get tough.  Isn’t it time that the affluent Western Christians begin lending a hand and coming alongside these servants on fire for the Lord?  Western agencies and missionaries need to put aside self and focus on the goal; God’s plan, to make disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.[6]

Samuel Escobar states it perfectly when explaining his cooperative model of missions, the “churches from rich nations add their material resources to the human resources of the churches in poor nations in order to work in a third area.”[7]  Christians are to encourage one another and together, as the Global Church, fulfill the Great Commission giving all glory and honor to God.


[1]  Escobar Samuel, The New Global Mission: The Gospel From Everywhere to Everyone, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity 2003), 12.

[2]  Matthew 28:19. Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Good News, 2001).

[3] John Rowell, To Give or Not To Give?: rethinking dependency, restoring generosity, and redefining sustainability, (Atlanta: Authentic 2006), 18.

[4]  David Ruiz, et. al., The Two Thirds World Church (Lausanne Occasional Papers 44: 2004), 16.

[5] Johnson, Da cristandade, 349.

[6] Holy Bible, Matt.28:19.

[7] Escobar, The New, 67.

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About Bárbara

I am a Christ follower, wife, mother, missionary, and Online Instructor for LU Online teaching Introduction to Missions. My family and I serve at Living Bread Ministries; planting churches among the desperately poor in South America. I have an MA in Intercultural Studies from LBTS. My passion is to see the Lord Jesus worshiped among the poor and needy and to see lives transformed by the power of the Gospel.
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