Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Breakthroughs in Missions

I am not sure whether you know this, but Missions as we know it is going through some remarkable changes.  Donald McGavran introduced the world of missions of the idea of homogeneous peoples.  The premise was the people like to be around their own kind.  Understanding this allowed missions to target the message of the Good News to specific groups.  Ralph Winter took this a step further in his Unreached People Groups.  He said that we should recognize that nations in Matthew 28:19 (NLT) (19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit) uses the Greek word, ethne.  This is where we get ethnic.  He pointed out that strategically we could identify the enthnic peoples of world and determine their degree of movement towards Christ.  We could then prioritize our mission challenge to reach the unreached people groups (ethinic groups) and be more efficient and effective.  This was a huge step forward in fulfilling the Great Commission.

But knowing who to reach is not the same as reaching them.  We now have a strategy for identifying those who need to hear.  The next question is "what methods are we going to use to engage them?"  The answer according to many (myself included) is something that has been dubbed Orality.  The basic premise is that most people are oral learners, they prefer methods of learning that engage their senses, enhance their relationships and fit into the cultural modes of communication.  These include story telling, parables, songs, dancing, art and other primary learning methods.  Mission agencies are now scrambling to target people groups using this strategy.  The results have been remarkable.  This method is helping speed up the advance of the Gospel around the world.  

International Christian Ministries and its seminary, Africa Theological Seminary have been participating in a two conference that has been looking at Theological Education and Orality.  We we are discovering is that Orality has less to do with literacy and more to do with how people choose to learn.  This has brought us to the point of not only buying into the Orality movement, but examining our own ways of teaching.  We are in the process of realigning our curriculum and teaching methods so that our learners learn better and also develop skills that will help them teach better in their communities.

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