Missions: Mark Woodward, Part 1

Well, I just added Mark Woodward’s blog to my Google Reader. It’s because of an extended series on mission work he’s just finished. I’m so taken by it I’m going to post on it post by post. And rather than saying what I think, I’ll offer a link to his site and then ask a few questions.

Part 1 of the series makes this point:

All initiative and initial actions [by a potential missionary] come from the person desiring to become a missionary, who is most often untrained, inexperienced, perhaps not completely educated, but highly motivated.

(Now go read Part 1.)

(Without reading ahead in Mark’s series), what do you think? Is it a problem if missionaries arise because the potential missionary self-initiates? Obviously a missionary needs to be a self-starter, but should he also be a self-recruiter?

If that’s not the best system, what would be better? (And don’t read ahead. That wouldn’t be any fun at all.)

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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7 Responses to Missions: Mark Woodward, Part 1

  1. Price says:

    Interesting question from a man who has probably seen many come, try and fail because of the lack of preparation and planning..My question, however, would be how would you tell a young man or woman or couple that the desire in their heart to take the message of Jesus to the lost was "self-recruitment" or "spirit-inspired." Given the lack of teaching on the Holy Spirit's role in being our Teacher, then one is left only with the concept of Self and Service…Seems hypocritical to not teach them about the guidance of God, how to listen, and test the spirits, and then complain that they are ill-prepared, at least spiritually. Surely, figuring out the logistics, financing, and endless details of reality are important and necessary but being certain of your calling seems paramount.. Just a thought.

  2. David P Himes says:

    I agree with Mark’s point, but it could be made of virtually every occupation. Younger people, regardless of their educational accomplishments, are rarely prepared for their first job. I’ll grant building support for mission work may add a level of complexity, but youth, almost by definition, is inexperienced and not fully prepared for what they do.

    How is mission work different than being a local preacher?

  3. Adam Legler says:

    My experience with the supporting congregation side of things is how political things can be. If everyone has there minds made up on where they want to do mission work then a young person approaching them won't matter that much. So yes, it can be a problem if a potential missionary arises from self intiation.

    I think it would be good for anyone seriously interested in mission work to sit on a mission board/misson committee to get the big picture of how things can work. Of course, many times you can't sit on these committees unless you have mission experience.

    But if they can do this, then their passion of being sent somewhere can catch on and the committee will naturally start to equip these individuals.

  4. Jerry Starling says:

    <div class="idc-message" id="idc-comment-msg-div-156560240"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(156560240)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" onclick="IDC.ui.fb_wrapper(156560240)" href="javascript: void(null)" style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(156560240)">Close Message In some ways, my decision to enter the mission field was my own decision. Yet, I can see the hand of God in how it happened – and certainly God must have had something to do with the fact that I was on the field in the southern-most nation of the South Pacific (New Zealand) within 3 months of the decision to go! I blogged about that at <a href="http://committedtotruth.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/my-influencer-parker-henderson/.&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://committedtotruth.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/…” target=”_blank”>;http://committedtotruth.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/….

    Yet, at the same time I can honestly say I was young, woefully unprepared, and without adequate guidance then. The woeful lack of preparation was true of the other members of the group I was with.

    After nearly 3 years, I returned to the States, attended Sunset, helped recruit nine families as additional workers, and returned to New Zealand after 2 years in America. I (and the rest of the team) were still woefully unprepared as we scattered across New Zealand in groups of 2-3, each intent on doing its own thing. I was at Sunset before Cline Paden introduced Sunset's Mission Preparation program. (I sometimes think he began the mission program because he saw how inadequately prepared we – the first large group to go from Sunset into a single mission point. – were when we left 34th & Memphis in Lubbock!)

    Yet, in the process most of us matured and at least some effective work was accomplished.

    Today, I think most potential missionaries have many more opportunities than we did in the 1960's. They are often able to participate in short term missions. They have the opportunity to seek out preparatory training in missions. They have a larger group of experienced (and successful) missionaries to consult. We had few of those things. Yes, when I was at Sunset, I had Cline Paden – but most of what I got from him was by informal contact, not through a structured study of mission theory and methodology.

    I am interested in reading Mark's proposal for a better way.


  5. aBasnar says:

    In Antioch the church was built by missionaries from the Jewish Christians who crossed the border to the gentiles. They were mision-minded from the beginning and thus the leaedership was. They prayed and fasted regularly, and the Spirit could reveal God's plan to them. Let this sink in a little.

    I have the impression, the fewest churches are mission-minded, but rather in a "survival mode", thus the big idea for mission-work is not presented by the Spirit to the leaders of that church, but through "para-church-organisations" and individuals. And their desire to go to the mission-field sometimes comes a little (or more) unexpected and meets the elders unprepared, as they never really thought about it …

    This makes for a very bad start …


  6. Jerry Starling says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with your 2nd paragraph. One reason we are unprepared is that we do not think much about it.

  7. KP says:

    It’s very difficult to to know if someone is led by the Spirit to be a foreign missionary. I’d like to propose a thought to you though. Is it crazy to think that if the churches are not mission minded and never even look for a missionary or think of this kind of work, that the Spirit will fill someone with the desire and knowledge to go and be effective?

    We place man-made restrictions/qualifications on missionaries, but every time I see the Spirit giving someone a gift, it isn’t through that person’s efforts at studying, attending a 4 year college, or taking some missionary survey. The Spirit gives as He wills and no man can fathom it. Too many church leaders don’t want to accept this and so choose to ignore people who may very well be effective. Don’t get me wrong, missionaries should try their best to be prepared, but I think sometimes we get too caught up in the “process” and end up quenching the Spirit in fired up Christians causing bitterness and pain.

    Not only that, but take a look around in the mission field. There’s actually very few church of Christ folks out there. Perhaps it’s our own restrictions/qualifications that keep us from evangelizing the world as we should. Where is the faith? the prayer? the thinking about the bigger picture?

    Maybe the reason these groups are in survival mode is because they refuse to change their ways and recognize the Power of God to work in even the most lowly and uneducated of men and women. I’ve even seen little children be instrumental in bringing souls to Christ in the mission field. How is this possible? Only through God. Maybe some of our congregations need to take self out of the picture and think about what God wants from us. Maybe missionaries/potential missionaries need to do the same thing.

    It’s easier to train a passionate person to be a missionary than it is to give a trained missionary the passion to serve.

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