CHICAGO – Several hundred Christian mission leaders began a three-day conference Thursday with a focus on "adjusting missionary method's to today's realities."
The North American Mission Leaders Conference at Chicago Marriott O'Hare coincides with the 100-year mark since the publishing of the seminal book Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? written by Rolan Allen, a former British missionary to China.
Those attending the conference were asked to ponder the words of Allen as a way to "recalibrate" (this year's theme) and improve their work in missions. They were also encouraged by opening session speaker Paul Nyquist, who is the president of the Moody Bible Institute, to move past any opposition they may face in their work.
"Normal spiritual ministry brings opposition. It exists inside the camp and outside the camp," said Nyquist, referring to obstacles mission leaders may face, including criticism. "Furthermore, our theology demands it. We have an adversary. His name is Satan … and he doesn't want us to do the work of God."
He encouraged mission leaders to pray and move forward when facing opposition as Nehemiah did.
"We always press on. I've been in your shoes before. I've sat in a (mission) leader's chair … Don't quit. There is no other hope besides Jesus Christ. Don't give up. Pray, protect yourself, but always, always press on," Nyquist implored.
Marvin J. Newell, senior vice president of Missio Nexus, who is co-hosting the conference, said the centennial remembrance of Allen's book on missionary methods affords the North American mission community the opportunity to critically consider and "hopefully engage in 'recalibrating' some of the more pressing field methodologies currently being undertaken."
Topics to be discussed at the conference include finances in light of global economic turmoil, innovative methods of church planting, missional business, and international partnerships.
"Majority world leaders will be present to give their input. We dare not ignore the larger world outside of North America in these crucial discussions. The goal is to facilitate discussions that will help shape and reshape relevant methodologies for today," wrote Newell.
Conference host Missio Nexus formed nearly a year ago when the memberships of CrossGlobal Link and The Mission Exchange agreed to merge, forming a body representative of 35,000 evangelical missionaries deployed in every country by more than 190 agencies and churches.
"After 159 cumulative years of operating as two distinct entities, we found ourselves in a 'reset' moment," said Steve Moore, president and CEO of The Mission Exchange. "I believe we can capture the imagination of a new generation of great commission workers who recognize the urgency of the undertaking and the need for a more strategic streamlined structure for the future of North American missions."
Missio Nexus was unveiled as the new name for the merged entity in Boston last February at a bi-centennial celebration of the commissioning of the first U.S. missionaries sent out by a mission society.