A summary and discussion questions are below.
The First Era: 1800-1910, Coastlands, Kingdom Mission.
In this era, the protestant church looked beyond themselves to embrace the responsibility to reach the nations. In this era, William Carey lead the church out of Europe to the coast lands of the unevangelized. The mission was more than evangelism, but the creation of schools and universities showed the desire for cultural transformation, church and kingdom mission.
The Second Era: 1865-1980, Inland Territories, Loss of Kingdom Mission.
In the second era, an unhelpful distinction was made between mission for personal salvation and mission for “the kingdom on earth” or cultural transformation. An example of the mission for personal salvation was Hudson Taylor’s efforts to lead missionaries from the coast lands into the inland of China.
The Third Era: 1935 to Present, Unreached Peoples, Recovery of Kingdom Mission.
The third era is characterized by Townsend and McGavran’s focus on the need for Bible translations for every language and a multiplying church within each ethnic group rather than each country. In addition, the wall between church and kingdom mission faded as groups began taking a more holistic approach to missions.
Questions for Discussion and Reflection:
- What is the difference in focus between the expansion of the church (church mission) and the expansion of the kingdom of God (kingdom mission)?
- How did the ministry aims of mission agencies change during the three eras?
- What does it mean for every believer to be fully “on mission” even when not in “full-time Christian ministry”?