In part 5 of his series, Mark argues that we need an overarching, worldwide strategy for missions. And we need to share information among the churches and missionaries. He suggests —
We need a Wikipedia-like site for mission information, preferably one where every country of the world is listed and where our fellowship can share our combined knowledge and experience publically.
I’m sure there’s a clever programmer among my readers who could set this up and give Missions Resource Network a link to post on their site.
Imagine a website that shows where all Church of Christ missionaries are at work, with articles by each regarding the needs of that location.
I’d argue for a less sectarian approach. We should include at least the independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ in the same database. Why spend hundreds of thousands to plant competing congregations? We have enough of that foolishness in the USA. Why export it?
A missionary reporting on the work in, say, Geneva, Switzerland, should include information not only on the Restoration Movement churches but other Christian evangelism efforts as well as indigenous Christian works. Perhaps we would figure out a uniform template for reports and needs.
Then we need to publish/create some lists of ranked priorities to inspire and captivate congregations and workers looking for a mission field. What if all our churches were made acutely aware of even just the following lists—many of which are already available:
1. Countries most restricted to Christians
2. Muslim countries most open to Christians
3. Countries with the fewest Christians per capita
4. Countries where no known churches of Christ are meeting
5. English-speaking countries with the fewest Christians
6. Countries with the greatest response to Christian broadcasting
7. Richest/poorest countries with the fewest Christians
8. Countries with greatest internet access and the fewest Christians
Some of this information is already available from missions organizations sponsored by other denominations. Some is available from Church of Christ works, such as World Christian Broadcasting.
Is it possible that two congregations, one in Connecticut and one in California who are both wanting to work in Turkistan might discover each other, then talk to each other, certainly develop a relationship and perhaps even work out a cooperative plan—which might inspire other congregations who then join them in that work!
Is it possible that congregations would check the site information and see that 250 congregations are considering summer mission works in Honduras, so maybe they would choose a different country?
Is it possible that some congregation would learn that the Muslim country of Senegal is very open and that one African brother has started five congregations there in the last eight years—and they might start exploring ways to help him?
Is it possible that congregations would use their businessmen who travel abroad as scouts for new mission opportunities?
I think Mark makes an excellent point. We live in the information age, and information is a powerful tool. There’s so much going on in the mission field that is inaccessible to the typical congregation because there is no place to go find it. A wiki-website might be the easier way to go. That way, congregations, missionaries, and supporting organizations could share information, dreams, and plans.
Since the time of Alexander Campbell, the idea of a missionary society has been controversial in the Churches of Christ. I dare say that fewer than 1% of our members know what a “missionary society” is or why it’s been considered objectionable. But the sad fact is that Satan has used our opposition to such organizations as a means of dividing our ministries from each other, so that we overlook some mission fields entirely while overly focusing on others. Some means of coordination is essential.
And a critical step is making information available. No one congregation can assemble this data. Organizations such as the Missions Resource Network doubtlessly have much of this information, but even they have limited staff resources to gather and keep up with so many mission works around the world.
So Mark’s proposal seems pretty sensible to me. All we need now is some programmers and some volunteer editors to make it work.