I came across this article on The Resurgence website this week. It discusses wrong and ineffective attitudes towards mission. The thrust of the post hits on what I have felt over the years about how a lot o reformed evangelicals in Wales see mission. An over emphasis on events and programmes – be they ‘mission week’, ‘tea and tost’ or a ‘quizz night’. This is how The Resurgence describes this mindset:
Their view of the gospel leads them to see social action as optional. For them, mission is synonymous with evangelism, and evangelism is highly programmatic. They focus on training individuals through evangelism training programs, apologetics, and use of evangelistic tracts.
The post on The Resurgence goes on to note some problematic issues with this attitude towards mission. Evangelism-driven mission, it argues, is often answer-based and heaven-centered. For example, this attitude usually leads the Christian to ask the non-believer “If you died tonight and stood before God and he said: ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ What would you say?” The questions are answer-driven. The aim is to get someone to say the right answer and to believe the right facts, like “Jesus died for my sins.” The problem here is an over emphasis on belief and hardly any on faith. The post on the Resurgence goes further and argues that this wrong attitude is not only effecting the Church’s mission but it’s started a rot in the Church itself. This is how it’s put:
Many Americans believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, but it makes very little difference in their lives. They possess mere belief. This mere belief undermines the gospel. What we need is faith. Moreover, mere belief in the right answer baits people, not with Christ, but with heaven. It is heaven-centered, not Christ-centered. In evangelism-driven mission, Christ is subordinated to the treasure of heaven, instead of heaven being subordinated to the treasure of Christ. The goal is heaven, not Jesus. Answer-driven and heaven-centered evangelism leads to nominalism and distorts the gospel. Evangelism-driven mission can undermine, not advance the gospel.
Sadly I can see and identify a lot of that in Welsh evangelicalism today. It’s primary leaders put all the emphasis on believing the right doctrines and through that demoting the importance of simple faith and Holy Spirit experience. That fact that I’ve just said that now will get the alarms bell ringing in the minds of some and they will be thinking that I have ‘taken my eye off the Cross and the atonment.’ No I havent, I’m just living and discussing experiences in light of the atonment.
The flip side to the problems of Evangelism-based mission is the problems of Social action-based mission which is discussed in a further post on The Resurgence here. I suppose the problem we have in the Welsh language scene is that most Churches fall to one of the two categories and no churches get mission right. Evangelical churches fall away towards Evangelism-based while most denominational churches fall towards Social Action-based. As I have felt for a number of years now both are missing the point and need to rediscover the Christ and Cross centric fusion of the spiritual+social mission which we read of in the Bible if we are to see effective mission again in Welsh speaking Wales.