Missions has been associated with the Church for centuries. For the Church mission has been to spread the gospel and belief in Christ throughout the known world. In the time of Paul the known world was the Roman Empire and Asia (what we would now call Turkey). As the Church became more aware of other worlds it expanded its mission to them as well.
Unfortunately mission has been associated with conquest. Instead of believing in the Word because the Word is true, peoples have believed in the Word because they were compelled to, thought it was wise to do so for worldly reasons or we simply born into this belief. Because Christianity has been associated with so many dominant empires: Roman, Portuguese, Spanish and British to name a few it has been able to promulgate itself by force.
Yet where these empires have lessened their reigns, where they have been lost, Christianity has not been lost entirely but it certainly doesn’t enjoy the adherents it used to.
We need to find out what type of mission actually “works”. I tender:
- Missionaries need to be culturally sensitive;
- Missionaries need to be at least as concerned with those who do believe as those who do not - this is not a numbers game;
- Missionaries need to be good, upstanding Christians themselves
They don’t need to be overly charismatic, wonderful theologians or great leaders. They just need these three qualities. With these three qualities “missionaries” can ask “How can I help you” and we can then show what being in Christ’s mission truly is.
I think that’s the best way.