Monday, March 20, 2017

Missions Sunday: Hermeneutics for Healthy Churches

Training in biblical interpretation should be an integral part of every missions strategy.

I’ve spent several decades studying missiology and the life and practice of Christians as they reach our world for Jesus. We are all familiar with the mission of the Church—that is, fulfilling all that Christ has commanded of us and representing Him in our world. But too often, missions is sidelined or misrepresented. Missions Sunday is a new Sunday series I am launching that will help us cross cultural, religious, and ethnic boundaries to introduce and further the work of the gospel. And as publisher of Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ), I see no better place to draw content from than this 52-year-old publication, which has been a beacon of best thought and practice from missions leaders and practitioners from around the world.

On a dirt road somewhere in the Middle East, a missionary walks alone. As he walks, he wonders what work God might be leading him to do that day. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a man appears on the horizon. He approaches the man and notices he is intently reading some document.

Filled with boldness and sensing God’s leadership, the missionary draws near and asks the man what he is reading. The man replies that he is reading a curious document written by someone named Isaiah. Sensing a God-ordained gospel sharing opportunity, the missionary asks him if he understands what he is reading. The man’s reply is illuminating, “How can I unless someone guides me?”

Perceptive readers have already realized that this historically accurate event did not take place in a contemporary setting, but was recorded in Acts 8:26-40, when Philip encountered the Ethiopian eunuch. That said, don’t miss the missiological significance of the event—the eunuch had a portion of scripture in a language he could understand, and yet he still needed someone to help him understand it. This event helps us see the critical connection between missions and hermeneutics. As one who is involved in theological education in a missions context, I am encouraged by many young missionaries who recognize that the task of missions is not complete when a few are converted, or when an initial church or even a group of churches are planted among a people group.

These young missionaries understand that a critical aspect of the task is the training and equipping of those believers—the “teaching them all things” aspect of the Great Commission. The goal of the Great Commission is not merely the existence of a church, but the existence of a healthy, vibrant, and growing church. Part One Part Two

No comments: