“Platform” Issues In Today’s Mission Movement

By Ryan Shaw

God has called His body to participate with Him in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. To see viable, reproducing church planting movements taking place within every one of the 6,000 remaining unreached people groups and the 533 remaining unengaged people groups.

We firmly believe this can take place within a generation, if the body of Christ can be mobilized to align with the “how” on the heart of God.

One of these “how” issues revolve around “platforms.” A “platform” is a reason for a message bearer to be in a country that makes sense culturally to the local community and provides a valid and credible identity in their eyes.

It fits into the local cultural categories of “work” and as a result the locals “understand” the message bearer. Without this a message bearer may have contextualized the gospel to the local culture but they will not be heard by more than a few because the local community does not know how to categorize them. They are seen as strange and an anomaly in the society.

Often, a platform is seen to help the local community in some vital way. This could be a hygiene center, a clinic, a teaching English center, an internet café or a host of other creative means. It provides access to local people and is seen as relevant in order to share the love of Christ.

A “platform” allow message bearers to remain in the country with a visa. In our day, visas are becoming harder to come by. We need a strategic reason to be there that the local government sees as legit and serving their national interests.

Platforms are necessary because most of the remaining unreached and unengaged peoples live in nations or parts of nations that are hostile to the gospel. Message bearers need to have a “job” that makes sense to locals in order to be accepted. Platforms allow message bearers to “incarnate” within a people group by becoming one of them through their work.

Without platforms we are suspect and not understood in the eyes of the locals. We never really blend in and no matter how hard we try will always be “outsiders.” Our message goes unheeded because the locals do not have a category to place us in within their society.

One very important strategy surrounding platforms today is that of using our college or university degree as a ticket to serve among unengaged people groups. We want to encourage young believers to see their career path as a primary means for God using them among unengaged people groups.

This requires a moving away from the traditional understanding of “missionary” and “full time ministry.” In the present mission movement it appears that those in “full time ministry” are actually hindered in the spread of the gospel.

This is because they have become marginalized in the society. Whereas those using their professions to get real jobs in their fields among unreached people groups have access to the core areas of the society, those doing “full time ministry” among the unreached have much smaller access to the people and the institutions affecting society.

“Professionals” have the rare opportunity to naturally impact many realms of an unreached society with the Gospel. The key is that the message bearer using their profession sees their being among the unengaged people as for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel and not primarily for their professional career.

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