A Needed Discussion: Answering Objections to Long-Term Missions

We recently read a post by Ben Stevens over at the Gospel Coalition Blog.  This article articulates answers to the objections that are often raised about long-term missions. Of particular interest are his comments on objection #5 "It Is Much More Effective To Just Fund Nationals."

There is growing opportunity for churches in the west to partner with church planting movements in the majority world. These partnerships must be with a group of mature congregations that are organized and sending out missionaries and planting churches.  In this way the responsibility for selecting and sending is left with the church(es) and they set support figures and hold their missionaries accountable for funds and for the execution of their ministry.

The HeartCry Missionary Society provides helpful principles that can guide the partnership process between partnering churches and indigenous ministries.

In his article Ben gives five rebuttals to the popular idea that "its much more effective to just fund foreign nationals."

1. Some of the most spiritually needy countries in the world---North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and others---cannot be reached by this method, because they do not haveChristians whom you could support. So this extremely popular strategy will always overlook the unreached peoples who need innovative, outside missions the most.

2. Christians in many countries---take India for example---come from a sector of society with which most others will not associate. It's all very well to support an Indian Dalit (and I know some great ones), but expecting him to reach India's Brahmins may be shortsighted.

3. You can pay a Majority World pastor's salary, but when that pastor's congregation wants to do long-term, cross-cultural work themselves, they will not be able to do it as you have. So this approach fails one of the first tests of a mission's success: reproducibility. At best it leads to paternalism; at worst it leads to corruption.

4. This view assumes that an outsider could never be as skilled at reaching a certain culture as an insider from that culture, yet over and over this thesis has been shown false. Outsiders must closely examine everything, from grammar to etiquette, and this intensity---combined with the great lengths to which missionaries must go to serve in the first place---can make them powerful evangelists even as outsiders.

5. Last, the idea extinguishes the mandate Christ gave to go into all the world, including the part of the world that doesn't live in your own country, to proclaim his name to those who have never heard it.

WE encourage you to read the entire article, you can access the original post here.

This issue is not going away! As reached peoples develop their own strategies for carrying out the Great Commission we must continue to prayerfully evaluate how we will partner with them.  We must also recommit ourselves to sending our own to reach the billions of unreached peoples across the globe.