Mission Agencies in the 21st Century
Mission Round Table Vol.12 No.1 Jan–Apr 2017
From the editor:
A revolution in world mission was sparked in 1789 when William Carey wrote his Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens and then founded the Baptist Missionary Society four years later. Carey wasn’t the first Protestant to take the gospel beyond the confines of Europe, but his example liberated the church from its focus on local concerns and spawned the growth of a series of denominational and non-denominational mission societies. These societies were augmented by a series of “Faith Mission” societies after Hudson Taylor started the China Inland Mission in 1865. Though some of the early societies have passed out of existence, been absorbed into other agencies, or changed names, the way mission has been done—with most missionaries serving in conjunction with one agency that has been responsible for recruiting, sending, and receiving—has remained fairly consistent for more than 200 years.
While it may seem premature to question the long-term viability of what appears to be a tried-and-true approach, we must remember that Jesus was building his church long before the “modern mission movement” began. It may be that global realities of the 21st century will move God to exchange the wineskin we are accustomed to with a new one that seems a bit unfamiliar or perhaps one that we find unrecognizable. But since God has worked at various times in various ways, we should be ready for him to do a new thing if he desires, be on the lookout for signs of this taking place, and be actively evaluating our structures and procedures to see how they might best serve God’s kingdom today and tomorrow.