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Missionaries then and now...

A graph from my class, World Church Growth Principles and Strategies, yum yum!




1. The call to cross-cultural missions was normally a permanent one.

1. The call to cross-cultural missions is not necessarily permanent. “Long-term” for Gen Xers maxes out at four to five years!

2. Cross-cultural ministry was seen as a career.

2. Cross-cultural ministry is most likely only one portion of a career. It looks good on an evangelical resume.

3. Expected to remain in one country until retirement.

3. Can transition countries various times (I even served in two countries).

4. A B.S. degree was sufficient for my mission.

4. A Master’s degree is now normally required and even Ph. D.s are showing up on the mission field (at least for brief periods of time before they move on to the academic world. Example A would be your professor!)

5. On the mission field in your early 20s

5. Rarely on the mission field before the 30s

6. Mission agency decisions were unquestioned.

6. All decisions are questioned!

7. Pretty much told what to do and where to go.

7. The missionary has veto power over decisions pertaining to his/her life and ministry.

8. Kids went to boarding school. Local options rarely used but allowed on exceptional basis.

8. Few kids go to boarding school. The C&MA has withdrawn from “running” boarding school during these 35 years. Most MKs now go to local private schools.

9. Five year terms. (My in-laws served seven year terms.)

9. Two year terms are become more common.

10. No IRA plan. When you retired you depended on the “mission communities” for cheap or even free housing.*

10. Various IRA plans with matching mission contributions. Many missionaries I know own homes!

11. Ships still used as a means of transportation to and from the field.

11. Ships no longer used. You only use ships for vacation cruises!!!!!!!

12. National Church had little if any say in the missionary’s ministry.

12. National Church has more control of the missionary’s ministry.

13. Church planting was the norm.

13. Church planting is the exception.

14. Nurturing ministry was done but not the focus.

14. Nurturing ministry is the main focus.

15. Community development and relief ministries just starting to become a major factor in missions.**

15. Community development and relief ministries now outnumber church planting agencies.

16. No trips to the homeland during a “term” unless there was an emergency.

16. Annual trips to the homeland are common.

17. Telegrams were the most efficient means of rapid communication - and done only on an as needed basis.

17. The Internet has replaced the telegram and the fax machine.

18. No phone in the first two homes I lived in on the field.

18. Satellite phones keep us in touch 24/7.

19. No TV; Armed Forces Radio or BBC were THE major news outlets and accessed only by Short Wave radio.

19. ALL U.S. TV channels can be accessed anywhere in the world. (This is NOT necessarily a “plus”!)

20. Rural ministries the norm.

20. Rural ministries the exception.

21. Ministry mainly among the marginalized.

21. A good portion of ministry effort is focusing on the influential and affluent classes.

22. Missionary body divided into veterans and rookies.

22. No overt divisions among missionary body (but implicit divisions still exist).

23. Not much specialization.

23. A plethora of specializations.

24. Cell Church was an anomaly.

24. Cell churches are becoming the norm.

25. Small, non-descript, out-of-the-way church buildings.

25. Strategically located large and attractive church buildings.

26. Short-term missionaries were an oddity.

26. Short-term missionaries now outnumber the traditional missionary.

27. “Lone Ranger” missionary model and image.

27. Almost ALL team ministries; and international teams at that!

28. Little “sending church” involvement

28. “Sister Churches” and “Partnerships” are common between sending and receiving churches.

29. Blackboards, typewriters, and mimeograph copiers

29. PowerPoint, text messages, and instant sharing of material

30. Big Brother mentality in vogue.

30. Big Brother mentality is thoroughly discredited.

  1. Anonymous Clarke Leland | 7:24 AM |  

    Josh! these are amazing stats. Thanks for posting them! If you get a chance you should post those numbers you found on the difference between peoples being sent and people in the church back in the day and now. Again, its an eye opener to see how much has changed in almost 4 decades!