Thursday, September 21, 2006

Responsiveness to the Gospel

Should we send most of our missionaries and resources to responsive areas (until those areas turn resistant or until the national Christians can take over the evangelistic task) while lightly seeding resistant areas (until they turn responsive)? Some quotes:

“Mission strategists like Cal Guy felt that such a tremendous investment of money and personnel into a resistant area was unwise. Guy told his students, many of whom were added to the Foreign Mission Board’s missionary force, that advance ought to be made in directions of response. He advocated token forces in resistant areas until the situation ripened and favored heavy commitments of men and money in areas obviously responsive to the Holy Spirit.”

Jessie C. Fletcher, Baker James Cauthen: A Man for All Nations (Nashville: Broadman, 1977), 247.

“Correct policy is to occupy fields of low receptivity lightly. The harvest will ripen someday. . . . While they continue in their rebellious and resistant state, they should be given the opportunity to hear the gospel in as courteous a way as possible. But they should not be heavily occupied lest, fearing that they will be swamped by Christians, they become even more resistant. They should not be bothered and badgered. . . . While holding them lightly, Christian leaders should perfect organizational arrangements so that when these lands turn responsive, missionary resources can be sent in quickly.”

Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, Third Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 191.

“I find nothing extrabiblical or antibiblical in this principle of concentrating on the responsive elements of society—the principle is thoroughly biblical. . . . The church as a whole must surely concentrate its resources on the ripe field, particularly since the responsibility for proclamation has been fulfilled to an unprecedented extent in our day. Yet forces to cultivate the fields yet unripe are still necessary. Further, we need representative forces in the totally unresponsive fields to serve as outposts to vindicate the name of our God, to glean, and to reconnoiter for signs of life and response.”

J. Robertson McQuilkin, Measuring the Church Growth Movement (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), 42-43.