I’ve got an idea. Let’s get rid of mission agencies! Where did this idea that mission agencies were essential for mission come from? Mission agencies, i suspect. Are mission agencies needed today. Sorry to be blunt but as a missional theologian, that’s my job. I hope this will make us think.
We may have got rid of the titles such as The Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen and The Regions Beyond Missionary Union and replaced them with pithy names such as BMS and Latin Link but have we actually changed our way of working? If not then, frankly are mission agencies redundant?
My answer to this is question is yes…and no. Traditionally mission agencies facilitated Western Christians to preach the gospel in ‘foreign climes’; mostly where the gospel had never been preached and where there was no church. Today, where there is a church in every nation, what is the agencies’ role? If agencies are still working in the traditional way, sending mission partners from a shrinking European Church then, I would say, “mene, mene, tekel, parsin“. The agencies’ days are numbered, we have been weighed and found wanting, and our role will be divided between those who can do a more useful job.
The answer to the question as to whether mission agencies are redundant must also be a resounding “no” but they need to be reformed or even re-formed. Traditionally they have served the Western church and its members, but today, to be at all useful or valid, the mission agency must serve the world church. In my own agency, we must be serving the Latin American church as much as, if not more than, the European church. Or we serve the European church by sending non-Western missionaries to serve in it.
This will mean structural changes need to take place. Can a mission agency that serves the growing world church, be based in a continent where the church is shrinking and is possibly sick unto dealth? These are few random thoughts that i hope will promote reflection.