Missions: Mark Woodward, Part 5

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.

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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12 Responses to Missions: Mark Woodward, Part 5

  1. Price says:

    This technology and information is already available but people are more interested in reaching souls for the church of Christ instead of Jesus… Take the name of the church off the effort and make it simple. Jesus is the Way… There aren't any special church of Christ areas in heaven… we need a REVIVAL of Unity in a big way…

  2. Tim Archer says:

    More than staffing and structures, the will to do this must be there. Participation and sharing need to replace competition. Congregations (and missionaries) need to stop jockeying for preeminence and gain a kingdom mentality.

    An example: a few years ago we attempted to begin a series of meetings between churches and organizations that work in Cuba. One brother came to the first meeting with handouts highlighting his work in Cuba and spent the meeting lecturing us about how little we knew about what had gone on in Cuba. There was a second, half-hearted meeting, which this brother also dominated. Years later, we're going to try again this year… because this brother passed away and now we have hopes of getting something done.

    Seems like each field I'm familiar with has someone or some church trying to do the same thing.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. wjcsydney says:

    A great source of information on the Christian situation in each country is Operation World http://www.operationworld.org/

  4. Jay Guin says:

    Wendy,Thanks for that link! That’s a fabulous source. I’m forwarding the link to our missions committee.The only thing missing is how many missionaries are currently active there and where in each city. But what a great resource to see where the needs and opportunities are!

  5. wjcsydney says:

    Forgot to add that Operation World publishes this info in a book each year.

  6. Alabama John says:

    All missionary work is not tainted by religious bias..

    Supplies handed out at the Central Church of Christ site by the Church of Christ disaster organization has members of other denominations helping side by side.. Folks coming to get needed items or food or hot meals are not asked what church?
    Just what do you need and every effort to meet that need is tried.

  7. Doug says:

    I believe that those actually on the misson field cooperate much more freely than do their supporters back home. I find that both sad and funny.

  8. aBasnar says:

    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.

    The persecuters will love it!

  9. Ouch, I agree with aBasnar. Such a site would be a great help in many countries. It will also be a phone book for those wanting to kill Christians in some other countries. I know it will be a directory used by scam artists in Nigeria.

    Please advance with caution with an eye on what enemies of Christ might do with the information.

  10. Royce says:

    Doug is exactly right about his statement "I believe that those actually on the misson field cooperate much more freely than do their supporters back home". I know that to be true. In most countries off U.S. soil, missionaries of many Christ centered groups fellowship and pray together. The reason? No legal sectarians breathing down their backs.

  11. wjcsydney says:

    I know that my friends who are missionaries in Istanbul would NOT like it known what they do. They describe themselves as "teachers". Colleagues of theirs were murdered in Turkey a couple of years ago.

  12. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,You make an excellent point. That may be the reason the site mentioned by Wendy has no detail on the number or location of missionaries.But the fact remains that that kind of information needs to be somewhere — although under a security system that prevents persecutors from using it against the missionaries. It’s outside my expertise to suggest a solution, but some sort of central database would be immensely helpful.

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