This past Wednesday at All Nations we had our annual missions fair. Almost 30 mission agencies were present. The students were able to get a lot of information from the literature and by asking questions of the representatives. This is always an interesting time for them although they often feel overwhelmed.
It always interests me how mission reps view the role of their agency and agencies in general. I also, in conversation try and provoke discussion on the role of agencies in mission today.
An interesting piece of data I picked up is that agencies are getting smaller. They have fewer missionaries and some are attempting merge with other agencies. The reasons given were also interesting. Most blamed both fewer people going into mission, more short-term mission and direct sending from churches. We will come back to this.
Because was representing Latin Link a few people mentioned that they had seen fast growth in Latin Americans in mission. Somebody told me that in a missionary kids classroom over half the kids were Brazilian.
O what is the future of the mission agency? Since the end of the eighteenth century and the beginnings of the so-called "Modern Mission Movement" with the BMS, CMS and LMS, et, it was assumed that sending through an missio agency, as a middle-man between the church and the missionary overseas was the best way forward. This has been questioned in the past twenty to thirty years.
Large churches send their missionaries directly. Other models are being tried such as the Latin American mission agency that is a receiving body rather than a sending one. They receive, orientate and care for the "field" side of things and the church deals with sending of money and home-leave issues. This is not perfect but s questioning whether the traditional mission agency should be changing.