5 major challenges for mission agencies

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Missions
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Five major challenges for U.S. mission agencies over the next ten years.
I am very grateful to Dr. Philip Steyne, my professor at Columbia International University, for his class on “Contemporary Issues in Missions,” June 2011. He emailed dozens of missionaries around the world, from many agencies, to better understand several trends in missions. Not all of the trends he identified are barriers, but what I learned during his class is the foundation for the challenges I list below. In addition, my cohorts in Poland – from several different missions – have added their input.
The five major challenges that I would identify are as follows:
1. Globalization.
2. Mission force changes.
3. Financial stresses.
4. Persecution and the “war on terror.”
5. Exponential growth of various church forms.

Truth is, a number of other issues could be added, depending on the viewpoint of the person asked. Issues like orality – 70% of the world being in an oral-based culture, or urbanization are significant. A recent document from WorldVenture identified “identity and vision” as a key issue moving forward, and my colleagues from other organizations also mentioned similar issues with their agencies.

In posts to follow, I’ll try to expand on each of these points

These are the challenges that I think most mission agencies today are facing. They are significant, but if we look back, even over the past 100 years, we will find similar issues. The world was “won” in the first part of the 20th century, and evangelical missions struggled with an identity crisis, pre- World War I. Another crisis occurred in the 1970s, pre-Lausanne. But even through 2 World Wars, the rise and fall of communism, the rise of liberalism, secularism and materialism to sap the missionary’s zeal – God’s Mission keeps expanding.

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