The worldwide church faces a new paradigm of missions

By September 26, 2006

International (MNN) — The AIDS pandemic. Unreached people groups. Under-equipped church leaders. The worldwide church faces some big issues.

But there are exciting things too, like the phenomenal church growth rate. Malcolm McGregor is the International Director of SIM. He believes we’ve actually stepped into a new paradigm of missions.

“The modern movement of mission has been in many ways successful in that there is a live church in Africa, there is a live church in South America. There is a live and growing church in many parts of Asia. And these churches now are engaging in mission themselves, and so it’s not a sense of the West to the rest, but a sense of God’s church all over the world seeking to seek out those who are unreached and share the Gospel with them.”

Over the past several years, SIM have undergone some considerable changes in their ministry as they have observed the changes in the worldwide church. McGregor says their goal in restructuring their organization was to, “Re-understand the new world we’re living in, the tremendous changes that have taken place, and say to God, ‘what are the new things that we should be doing.'”

With 40 nationalities working for SIM all over the world, it’s an organization full of culturally diversity. In light of that, SIM found it important to rebuild their international leadership team, which is now made up of leaders representing their own region of the world. A Nigerian is responsible for Europe and West Africa. A North American director is over North, Central and South America. There’s a Chinese-background director for the Asia/Pacific region. A South African director oversees East and Southern Africa.

McGregor voiced his concern for the ‘big issues’ facing the global church and SIM’s role in coming alongside the church to equip them to address the issues and share the Gospel with those who need to hear.

The problem of HIV/AIDS is just one of those issues, and McGregor says, “I think one of the challenging things is that the AIDS pandemic is right there in the church itself, amongst the congregation and the people of the church, and we need to help the church in different situations to help them to really face up to that challenge and to really see the Gospel be alive within that context and stretching out to people in need and also helping people that have never known Christ, perhaps, in the last days of their life to really understand the Gospel.”

As SIM works alongside the global church to respond to those ‘big issues’ McGregor says we still need each other, “I think that this is where, even though we’re in a new age of mission where a global church is engaging in the work of the Gospel, the church here, in this part of the world, in the United States and Europe, still has a huge role to play, and people still need to step up to the plate and to be involved, to be part of that journey.”

McGregor believes that the best way for Western believers to approach this new stage of mission is to become listeners and learners with humble attitudes, even though we’ve been involved and engaged in mission for awhile. He says, “God [wants] us to be people that are constantly looking to see what He’s doing in the world, learning from what He’s doing in the world.”

“One of the great things as I look at the history of missions, as I look at the Gospel around the world, God loves to work out of weakness, and so often I think we view our education, our finance, our other things as power, but in many ways the incredible things that happen in the world, that I think we’ll all be amazed at one day when we stand before the throne of God, are other things that have happened out of weakness. And I think that’s another thing that’s good for us to learn in this new age of mission.”

Pray for SIM’s new leadership team as they oversee mission work worldwide. SIM is in constant need for people to come and serve with them. Go to their website for more information on how you can be part of SIM’s work.

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