Posted in book reviews, missions & evangelism

Keeping missions aloft in the winds of change

I stepped onto a Boeing 737 headed for South Africa, admiring its sleek design and powerful engines. “What would Wilbur and Orville Wright have thought of this bird?” I asked my missionary colleague.  In a little over 100 years, aviation has changed massively. Yet despite the changes, some things have stayed the same. The same aeronautic principles that allowed the Wright brothers to float just above the beach at Kitty Hawk also lifted us thousands of feet into the air.

As with aviation, so it is with world missions. Amidst changes in how we carry out the mission, some principles have stayed the same. This is the message of Franklin Cook and five other veteran Nazarene missionary writers in the collection, Vista: The Changing Face of Nazarene Missions (Beacon Hill Press, 2009). Church planting movements and creative access missions are two of the new things that God is doing. Yet getting these efforts off the ground and keeping them aloft requires the “old fashioned” practices of prayer, discipleship, giving and education.

Some may argue that church planting movements are as old as the book of Acts, yet God does seem to be outdoing himself these days. Howie Shute describes the contours of a Nazarene Church Planting Movement (CPM) in Ethiopia, an exciting move of the Holy Spirit in our time. Growth happens most rapidly where focus is upon multiplication rather than addition. Shute emphasizes the necessity of passing along the “right DNA,” which means preaching and living holiness, churches planting churches in rapid succession and using local resources to get the job done (p. 48).

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