Archives For Joel James

Last week we began by defining missions as “ecclesiology with a passport.” Then we looked at two big picture problems with the social action approach to missions. That was followed by two posts (here and here) that gave eight biblical reasons the social action theory of missions is misguided. Today we wrap up this series by looking at how the Apostle Paul understood the role of social action in missions:

If we allow the book of Acts to lay down the lane markers for our missions efforts, then church planting, leadership training (and Bible translation, where necessary) will be our focus.  That’s how the men whom Jesus trained understood and applied His commission.   Continue Reading…

Yesterday I said that there were at least eight biblical objections to viewing “social action” as a form of missions. In that post, I explained what three of those were, and I’d encourage you to read that post first. But having noted those three, here are the rest of those eight objections:

 

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Image result for social missionsLast week I explained the importance of understanding that for missions to truly succeed, it must be built on the foundation of strong ecclesiology. I then wrote a critique of the approach to missions that focus on social action. Today I want to expand on that post, and describe what exactly my concerns are with this approach to missions.

There are at least eight biblical problems with the social action model of missions.  Of course, not all social-action advocates exhibit all eight of these problems, but naturally, since this is a survey, I need to paint with a broad brush.

Problem 1:  A redefinition of the gospel.

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As I survey today’s shift toward social action in missions, my concerns fall into three categories. Today’s post will look at the first two, and next week we will pick up the third (to get the most out of this post, I’d encourage you to read yesterday’s introduction, “Missions: Ecclesiology with a Passport“).

 

1) Are we ignoring the lessons of history?

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Missions is your ecclesiology armed with a passport.

The American evangelical culture has demonstrated a remarkable confusion about the nature of the church. This in-turn has led to an equally critical confusion about the nature of missions.

While a Western missionary might need to leave his PowerPoint presentation and carpeted, air conditioned auditorium behind when he hikes over the mountain to a remote village, the important things that make a church—the biblical things—transfer directly and immediately into any culture.

In the past, the majority of theologically conservative missionaries were sent out to do church planting, leadership training, and Bible translation.  No longer.  Today a growing percentage of new missionaries are being sent to focus on social relief, with the church and the gospel tacked on as something of theological addendum.  In fact, in my twenty years as a missionary in Africa, I’ve seen a major shift in evangelical missions away from what I call “book of Acts missions” toward social reform projects or social action missions.   Continue Reading…