As I started this mini series on the Philosophy of Missions I quoted William Carey in my first article when I stated that “A theology of mission plus an understanding of the history of mission produces our philosophy of mission”. Last week I address the first part of the formual in a short blog entry on A Theology of Mission. Today I want to give some brief thoughts about the next factor, the history of mission.
Once a firm theology of Mission has been formulated, the Pioneer Sender must consider the history of missions before formulating his or her philosophy of Missions. I can not state strongly the importance of a proper theology is to our missions philosophy, and to life for that matter. It is the reason that churches and individuals of various denominations and theological backgrounds cannot effectively plant churches together.
I love the book of Romans because it gives such a detailed and concise understanding of what the Gospel is and is not. I live the book of Acts because it shows us what it looks like when this wonderful Truth looked like lived out looked like in that context. I understand that Acts was part of a transitional time in the church but it doesn’t change the fact it is still part of our church history. It exemplifies why you are not able to have a correct understanding of “the history of missions” without a Biblical “theology of mission”. That is why the study of theology must precede chronologically and in importance our study of the history of missions.
Here are a few practical ways for Pioneer Senders to to become students of the history of missions:
- Subscribe and read This Day in World Evangelism History. I know you may think this is a shameless plug for my pastors blog but I really enjoy the bite size amounts of history provided in this blog.
- Read missionary biographies. There are many publishers that made books in this category. Also this website has some really good articles. I suggest getting the short easy to read books and read a dozen or so. Then choose out of the pile a couple of missionaries that have really interested you and get a more in-depth book about them. This will help you get a better overview of the missions world and keep you from reading 500 pages about a person who has missions practices you simply don’t agree with.
- Read From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. It is the best way, I know of, to get “caught up” on our modern missions history.
- Read missionary blogs and prayer letters as if they were history. I do not mean do not treat it as out dated or not pray for the missionary. I am encouraging to read what they do and thinking through it. (another shameless plug – www.bcwe.org has a great list of missionaries).
- Make it your hobby. You might say I do not have time to read about missions history. I suggest you make it your hobby at least for a short length of time. It is fun and profitable.
If you have more suggestions for Pioneer Senders that will help them develop a better understand of the history of missions please let us know by posting in the comment section.