Five Unanswered Questions in 21st Century Missions:

  • How do we mobilize the whole Church with the whole gospel for the task remaining?
  • What are the scalable models of agency-served, effective local Church-based sending?
  • What are the solutions to the collaboration of marketplace and missionary?
  • How do we align virtual and presence strategies?
  • What is next after CPM?

Since 1983 I have been a participant in what might be classified as the modern missionary movement. As a participant I have started cross-cultural churches in various places in Africa, Asia, and the United States. As a student of missions and world religions and as an adjunct professor, my intrigue has only increased over historical mission strategy and unresolved strategic issues. Patterns of questions and problems arise in my own mind as I long for the completion of the task of global evangelism.

Numerous questions and mission issues plague us. However, five questions come to mind that continually bump into missionaries, strategists and scholars. At least, these are five questions, the solutions to which irritate and antagonize my pragmatism.

The first question is a matter of mobilization. Specifically, why are so few responding in obedience to the missionary mandate? What will it take to unclog the quagmire of churches that remain stagnant and unmoved by the Great Commission? What will unleash the next massive wave of missionaries unto the nations?

The second question addresses the issue of modalities of sending. The matter is a two-fold issue: does the church or do mission agencies own this mission; and if the church is so anxious to own it, how will agencies and churches work together effectively in the future?  What does effective local-church based sending in partnership with mission agencies work?

The third question addresses marketplace evangelism. How does the church embrace her members who own and live within a global marketplace and equip them and send them as effective global missionaries within the marketplace? This question may offer a solution to the first question of massive mobilization. If we can unleash and equip marketplace missionaries we may have rediscover the secrets that the Moravians uncovered nearly 3 centuries ago.

The fourth question is an effort to encourage collaboration between two very real but distant worlds –virtual and physical presence strategies. When asking a young person about some online ministry she interjected just for clarification, “virtual relationships are real relationships.” In the modern mission era, in ministries focused on moving back into our cities, and in personal evangelism strategies the importance of presence has been highly emphasized. Nonresidential, impersonal, drive-by, mass communication of the gospel has been viewed as a cheap imitation of missions. Yet text message, social media, skype, etc. etc. have pressed the definitions of virtual and reality as they relation to presence.  For the future of effective missions a redefinition of presence is required. Certainly the two worlds will more effectively impact the nations with the gospel if they can combine efforts.

Finally the fifth question is what comes after CPM? The question grows from nearly 5 decades of effective missions being defined by the concept of church planting movements. CPM has become the goal of everything missionary. As everyone seems to have adopted this as their goal and as people point to a variety of activities that they dubbed as CPM, the definition has become blurred to mean a variety of extrapolations. So this final question is about the need to refine our vision so that we can look toward new technologies that press the limits of global advance. What are the missing technologies and tools that will aid God’s global assault on darkness?

Of course there are many other questions to ask. But these five, seem critical to the future of missions.

I would love to hear your thoughts? Are these the correct questions? What insights have you found in addressing these five?