08 August 2008

More on "Missions? Missional?"

BastilleDauFirworks2008 In a previous post I shared a discussion I had with someone about the idea of missions in the church.

I want to take another look at one of these points: 
4. The French, the .... (fill in the blank) had their chance.
The premise is that France, Europe, etc., has had a chance to hear the gospel but rejected it, so now we want to go where they will be open to the gospel.

My question is, where would that be?  Europe has rejected the gospel, yes, but it is responding to it, though slowly. As my wife has also pointed out, when exactly did the French reject the gospel?  In the eighth century? 17th century? During the French Revolution? Recently? Did everyone do it? Just a few? Did someone pass a law to that effect?

How about China, they've rejected the gospel, shall we cross them off our list? China is closed, but it was a major missions field until the communist takeover in 1949. The new government then expelled all Christian missionaries from their borders. Yet Christianity is growing rapidly.

Perhaps Eastern Europe? It was closed to missionaries and the gospel for many years during the communist hegemony, but now it is once again open.

Or maybe the Middle East and North Africa? Everyone knows that people of Islamic background faith are resistant to the gospel, so perhaps we should not invest time and people to share the gospel with them?


If we shake the dust off our feet, and seek a place to go where people will be open to the gospel, I think that pretty much limits us to Antarctica.

And what of the United States? Is the gospel received in this country? I think it is obvious that the church is losing ground in the United States. Yet we are willing to plant new churches. According to the premise stated above, this seems counter-intuitive.

I find these facts interesting:

“Fifty-nine percent of U.S. congregations have fewer than one hundred regular participants, counting both adults and children; 71 percent have fewer than one hundred regularly participating adults”
"10 percent of U.S. congregations—the largest ones—contain half of the nation’s churchgoers."
So, if we are consistent in following our original premise, why start a church plant when this country is rejecting the gospel? Aren't there enough churches now that we have to start a new one?

I think this points to the fact that the church in the US has a less than adequate understanding of what it means to be missional, or to be in missions. And when the church is at odds to the world and can only expect enmity, what makes us think we can find anywhere that the gospel will be welcomed?

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