Mission Inc.

Mission Inc.

In 1985 I knew very few missions pastors. Today, they are everywhere. One of the things I like to do is ask them, “How long have you been on home staff?” They usually don’t like it.

In years gone by, missionary agencies could plan future staffing around returning field missionaries. These folks, seasoned and experienced, sometimes made great leaders and mobilizers, other times, not so great. But they were there… and they played a role.

Today, many of these folks end up in the local church as mission pastors. While I very much appreciate the fact that we are moving the missionary advocates further “downstream” it has made recruitment for home office roles more difficult.

At the same time a new niche has arisen in the mission agency world which I call the “meta-agency.” These are groups that mobilize or train or provide some other type of “supporting” role but don’t themselves deploy missionaries. Examples include the Caleb Project, The RightNow Campaign, The Journey Deepens, and I could go on. There are literally hundreds of them.

What I like about them is their zeal. What concerns me is that they are a further drain on the leadership pipeline. Some of the best and brightest seek the elusive goal of being mission “catalyzers.” In the meantime, there are fewer cattle to be catalyzed. Somehow we need to elevate the needs of the “meat and potato” organizations that not only speak about mission, but actually do it.

If one were to take a macro level view of missions in North America, I think we would find many, many more people are “home staffers” but don’t call themselves that. Let’s be careful that we don’t transfer the stagnation of the oversized home office into a new form which is equally taxing on the financial and personnel base from which we draw resources.

3 thoughts on “Mission Inc.

  1. OUCH! Did you get a little too used to unexploded munitions in a former assignment? 🙂

    I agree. I am in the middle (must admit…I have been in the middle some time) of writing an article on “Mission Mobilizer vs. Mission Rep” and one of the things I talk about is the MASSIVE proliferation of “mobilizers” these days. I agree that we have everybody and his/her brother calling themselves a mobilizer because they are interested in SENDING people to places they have no intention of ever going themselves. While it isn’t particularly popular, you have brought to light a topic that bears a little exposure to the blinding light of day! Good job, Ted. Now, where is that flack jacket?!

    From a mobilizer who is watching for the signal to GO “out there” again!


  2. Hmmm… I'm sitting down to write an article about how we need to stop saying that the mission mobilizers' job is to get more people overseas – that mobilizers should aspire to raise up not just missionaries but more senders, intercessors, welcomers, and yes more mobilizers too. That telling people "there are three kinds of Christians, those who go and those who send and those who are disobedient" is crazy-talk. OK, I don't think I'll actually refer to that quote. Of course, this is a 2006 post – popped up on a Google search – and might not represent your current views. Or, maybe you'll be the first to disagree when I post my article… Watch for it!

    1. I have a few crazy ideas.

      I think you run the risk of the "Great Abstraction." This is the term I used for the idea that all we do is missions. It's the sign on the door that reads "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE MISSION FIELD" which is, I am sorry to say, rather dumb. It's the idea that we are all missionaries because we are Christians. I would challenge you, before you write your article, to define what you mean by "missionary."

      If you want to say that the "three kinds of Christian" talk is crazy, that's fine with me. However, if you further obfuscate the definition of missions, then I might write a testy reply!

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