USA (MNN) — In the last few decades a profound yet quiet revolution has taken place in mission which is best observed from a field perspective. There are many facets of this shift, which is accelerating in speed and intensity as the timing of our Lord Jesus is coming closer.
The first change, according to The Bridge International's RK Ulrich, is the pulling back of the Western church as torch-bearers of the Gospel to the unreached, and the merging of national churches with strong leaders who effectively are reaching their own. It is interesting to note that the Church-at-large is presently growing far more rapidly in the third world and emerging nations than in the West (Europe and North America)
Secondly, Ulrich says, "The definition of who is a missionary is changing. Traditionally, it was the person with a life-long call, trained through mission-school and sent out by a church or mission organization to one geographical field where they lived and died."
She says YWAM was one of the forerunners in defining the new short-term missionary: one who travels and lives cross-culturally among unreached people for shorter periods of time while engaging in effective, broader, inter-personal, expressions of the Gospel beyond that which the traditional Western mission compound provided.
And finally, the rapidly increasing availability and use of the internet and satellite television is changing outreach. Ulrich says, "These media are already blanketing every square inch of our globe with an unfathomable amount of information. It's said that the paradigm shift caused by the coming of the information highway is causing as profoundly revolutionary changes in our present global community as the invention of Gutenberg's printing press did to the world culture at the time."
Reports from those who present Jesus Christ and Him crucified over the Web have recorded numbers of hits by people living in countries officially closed to the Gospel. Scores are being saved and churches planted without the influence of the Western church structure. New software is being developed where one language is instantly contextually translated in writing and verbally to another.
Ulrich adds, "One of our missionary friends who has traveled all through the world recently told me, 'Even in the poorest communities in India and Africa, where people practically have nothing, you will find Coca Cola and television sets with dishes pointed to the sky.'"
Ulrich asks, "Is it possible that, due to this paradigm shift, the remaining 4,000 unreached peoples will be evangelized with a speed unheard of in prior history? Does that mean the end of the world and the return of Christ is more imminent? If so, are we prepared?"
Something to think about.