(February 15, 2017) Missionary statesman George Forbes emphasises a proven strategy…
Perhaps one of the least understood aspects of missionary work among the nations is that of missions’ strategy. It has the potential to be invaluable or a stumbling block.
In my experience it has been very helpful when it is properly prepared, presented and understood. When it is considered unnecessary or too human, because we are being led by the Holy Spirit, there is the danger of proceeding without a plan, because we think we are trusting God for outcomes.
In some ways it is like the old saying, ‘The thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.’
Fundamental and enduring dimensions
Missionary strategies that have been proven over and over again are often abandoned for something new and innovative. Proven methods of church planting evangelism, outreach, training and discipling are too often laid aside as simply out of date.
Change is inevitable with time; however there are some dimensions of life and service that are fundamental and enduring. I believe that Missions’ Strategy is one of them.
Let me first make a distinction. The word ‘missions’ is not the same as the word ‘mission.’
- Our mission is the redemptive work of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.
- Someone said, ‘It is the cross-cultural communication of Christ’ to a hurting world.
Mission’s Strategy is the activity of churches, agencies and missionaries in fulfilling that commission. No, this is not a play on words, but an important distinction.
Strategy is defined as –
- A careful plan or method for advancing towards a goal
- A framework or master-plan on which specific tactics are based
- The means agreed on to reach a certain goal.
It involves decisions by persons and groups with ability to judge what is important and with authority to act on priorities. Everyone and every organisation has a strategy of one kind or another. Some good and some not so good. Their particular way of approaching problems, or achieving goals.
Some strategies are demonstrably superior to others. Strategies useful five years ago may be obsolete today, however we should not fall into the trap of changing strategy simply because time has passed.
It is a conceptual way of anticipating the future, guiding us in major decisions concerning alternative approaches. Helping us to conceptualise the application of theory. Above all else, for the missionary and for the church team it must be the outcome of a God-given vision and Holy Spirit led strategy.
For the Christian communicator it is a process of planning with an aim to align our plans with God’s plans. Strategy demands study of scripture, prayer and research, as well as goal setting. Without goals we cannot measure effectiveness.
I suggest to every local church pastor, planning to send people overseas on short-term ministry, ensure that in addition to valid spiritual and practical preparation, they include the consideration of strategy.
A successful strategy is –
- Respectful and sensitive to indigenous leadership
- Embraces both the receiving national churches and the sending church
- Developed in mutual consultation.
God is glorified when his servants work together with trust and openness.
Dr George Forbes is internationally recognised as a missionary statesman with a heart for the lost of the nations. With a wealth of missionary knowledge and a unique ability to communicate the global picture, he is widely known as the ‘story-teller.’ Link: firstname.lastname@example.org