Paradigm Shifts In the Mission Movement – Part 2

By Ryan Shaw

In an article a few months ago we began to consider paradigm shifts the Holy Spirit is bringing about in the global missions movement.

I mentioned how several years ago while driving near our home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Lord spoke clearly to my heart. The phrase that reverberated in my heart was, “I am changing the face of missions.” My sense was that He is changing the basic expression of the mission movement, bringing it back to His Scriptural standards.

In that initial article we considered four specific, practical shifts taking place that are having dramatic impact on how missions happens. For the specifics of these four please see the article “Paradigm Shifts in the Mission Movement – Part 1.”

Now we want to look at three more significant shifts the Holy Spirit is highlighting. These paradigm shifts are long-term, wide ranging and largely provable through considering various growing evidences in the mission movement.

There is a lot more to be said related to each one of these. This is but a snapshot to give us a glimpse of where the Spirit seems to be leading things.

(1) Returning To the Apostolic Model of Mission. There are two sides of cross-cultural ministry that need careful consideration. First, the strategic methods used and second, reliance on the Holy Spirit, living a life filled with God.

As we consider a return to the Biblical, Apostolic model, the Spirit is promoting shifts in both areas. For the purpose of this article we will focus on the area of strategy.

Far from being an indifferent or secondary matter, the ministry strategy used in cross-cultural work is of the utmost importance. Not from the perspective of implementing a “formula” guaranteeing fruitful results, but embracing Biblical principles the Holy Spirit emphasizes.

Strategy of itself does not produce fruit yet strategic models aligning with principles of the Kingdom of God do produce great fruit. The Spirit’s strategy revolves around cultivating church planting movements among ethnic peoples toward seeing “people movements” (entire segments of people groups) coming to faith in Christ.

We don’t merely evangelize one by one but possess the mentality of entire families and extended communities coming to Jesus in rapid succession. The Holy Spirit has set the Kingdom up that if we will follow His Biblical blueprints we will see the exponential multiplication of the body of Christ among all ethnic peoples.

(2) Announcing the Full Range of the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is common for message bearers to reduce the message to the detriment of those we sincerely want to reach. Doing so communicates a message not making sense to people.
We may conclude we have “witnessed” to them and they are rejecting the Gospel, when instead we’ve failed to announce the whole message, leaving people stunted.

“What is the Gospel?” It seems like a basic question, right? As followers of Christ, experiencing the new birth, we ought to have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of our message.

Yet I generally hear a hodge-podge of responses of the Gospel, yet rarely the whole. The Gospel is commonly reduced in its scope, appearing quite vague.

Preaching the Gospel has been expanded to mean a wide variety of messages and good works. There are many important causes in the world. Yet, we must be careful not to accommodate our essential message.

Many limit the message to eternal life. Yet the Gospel of the Kingdom is much more comprehensive and exhaustive, covering the fullness of what God intended, making available to all humanity, both in this life and throughout eternity.

We are often guilty of presenting a slanted Gospel, providing a few points of truth, while neglecting entire core elements and pieces of the whole. Salvation is obviously the introduction, yet Jesus calls His body to equip all peoples with much more.

(3) Every Believer Redeemed For the Great Commission. Today we live at a time in history when the literal fulfillment of the Great Commission to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations” no longer seems like a distant reality.

A crucial piece of seeing this become reality is EVERY BELIEVER operating consciously in their God-given roles at home or out on the field in the Great Commission.

Every believer has a role. The call to disciple all nations is not just for a few Christians but every member of the body of Christ irrespective of status, background, education, etc.

Imagine what would happen if every member of your church, ministry or campus fellowship was actively playing their roles.

What are those roles? Traditionally, we talk of five different kinds of Great Commission roles: Praying, Going, Giving or Sending, and Mobilizing. However, the roles available to all believers now include two more that are typically referred to as Welcoming and Advocating.

The roles are not to be understood as mutually exclusive. One cannot say, for instance, “I’m a mobilizer, so I don’t need to give.” Believers should be involved to some extent in all or as many of the roles as possible and as opportunities are available, but they also should prayerfully determine what is the consistent role they must commit themselves to long term.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What do you sense the Holy Spirit highlighting in the missions movement?
  2. How can you apply elements of the three paradigm shifts mentioned above in your life and ministry?

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