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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"God's Heart for the Nations"

When I was in college, my friends that wanted to be missionaries were really into John Piper. He wrote a book called "Let the Nations Be Glad" in 1993 that really challenged popular thought concerning missions and God's gloy. The basic premise was the God is mostly concerned with His glory. God is a jealous God, and His greatest desire, according to Piper, is that all the nations of the world worship Him. Piper makes the application to global missions by saying that the goal of the Church's mission is that all nations worship God. I recommend the book to anyone who hasn't read it.

About that same time, a guy named Jeff Lewis (the professor of missions at Cal Baptist, not sure what he's up to these days) was making the rounds talking and teaching at Christian Universities about "God's Heart for the Nations." He built on Piper's idea that the main reason for human existance is that we would worship God, and that our act of worship ought to be leading others to worship Him as well. Lewis was also really into people group research, and was therefore focused on the 10/40 window. His teachings had a profound influence; not only on my "Mission Friends" (get it?), but also on the IMB. In 1998, the Board adopted its "New Directions" campaign and strategy change, shifting it's focus from countries to ethno-linguistic people groups. This "paradigm shift" echoed Jeff Lewis' call for the Board to take the focus off of "reached" people groups and to concentrate it's efforts and resources on the "unreached." In fact, Jeff's study on "God's Heart for the Nations" can still be found here at the website.

Anyway, Jeff asks the reader again and again to consider:
"Start Pondering ... What is God's ultimate passion? Not His only passion, but what is His chief end? When everything is eliminated but one, what is His central motivation?"

I'd like to hear what you all think about this. I'll post more thoughts in a couple of days.


David Rogers said...

I also like Piper's book a lot. I think it gives the best treatment I have seen regarding a biblical basis for people group focus, and strategic prioritizing in missions.

Are you meaning to imply that the IMB basically sees Western Europe as "reached"? I personally have not yet heard that directly from anyone at the Board. Perhaps because Western Europe has been an especially hard "nut to crack", we as an organization are struggling to find ways to be good stewards of human and financial resources through traditional missionary appointment in Western Europe. And this, in turn, might be interpreted as de-emphasis. But I am not sure that is necessarily the case.

Back a few months ago, Jerry Rankin himself wrote some pretty convincing words about the great spiritual need of Western Europe. And I tend to believe he was not just talking in order to appease those of us who happen to work in this region.



Anonymous said...

I've heard Dr. Rankin speak in support of our work in Western Europe. I would never doubt his sincerity. My concern is that we let the need (which is great) determine where we go. We are truly surrounded by need, but our strategy must be driven by the Holy Spirit. 

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