Sensationalizing World Missions

( [email protected] ) Sep 09, 2008 12:34 PM EDT

I have written to you quite boldly on some points . . . because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15:15–16

There are missionaries who are born adventurers; while wholly consecrated to Christ and utterly devoted to the glory of God, they are for all that very much in love with the physical excitement that accompanies missionary activities in some parts of the world. These have done excellent work and must be classed with the true servants of Christ and messengers of the cross. Their love for lost men is deep and real. Their fondness for travel and danger is natural to them and indeed contributes much to their fitness for the work they are called to do, a work which their more cautious brethren could never accomplish.

Now it is to be regretted that these men, by their very zeal and by the success of their efforts, have innocently prepared the way for a racket about as neat and lucrative as may be found anywhere within the field of religion. For there have arisen some who do not scruple to exploit the modern Christian's love for color and drama. These have swept in with the sound of a trumpet. They specialize in thrills and tales of adventure both tall and lurid, and in some quarters they have captured the imagination and loyalty of large numbers of Christians of undoubted sincerity.

Without any previous "good report," woefully shy on scholarship, lacking age, experience and wisdom and, in many instances, without having served an apprenticeship to any recognized spiritual leader, they set themselves up as great missionary pioneers and by sheer force of personality manage to extract from an emotional and uncritical public enough money to finance their showy projects.

These depend for their success upon the power of snappy advertising and use every trick in the modern salesman's bag to promote their interests. Missionary work, as they present it, is a huge and enjoyable adventure. Significantly absent are the woes of Calvary and the travail of the Holy Spirit. Their talk is smooth and convincing, but their spirit is not that of the great missionary leaders of the past.


Lord, help me to carefully scrutinize colorful, dramatic short-term commitment to world missions. Surely You seek from those You send life commitment with the mastery of language and culture so as to effectively communicate the Good News.


There are those who for questionable reasons have sought to senssationalize world missions. As a result, outreach programs are carried on glamorizing the missionary and sometimes dehumanizing the target people.

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