North American Mission Leaders: What's New Is Old?

CHICAGO – Christian author and college professor Miriam Adeney gave a sort of "state of missions" speech during the North American Mission Leaders Conference Friday in which she said the church in many parts of the world continues to flourish where the Gospel is proclaimed with regularity.

"What's new in missions? The church of Jesus Christ," said Adeney, answering her own question before more than 500 mission organization leaders attending the three-day conference at Chicago Marriott O'Hare.

"Who could have imagined the church in China as it is today? In China, the church is bigger than the communist party," she said.

Conference hosts, Missio Nexus, a coalition representing 35,000 evangelical missionaries deployed in every country by more than 190 agencies and churches, hoped the event would help leaders "recalibrate" (conference theme) or refocus their mission strategy.

Adeney expressed her desire that mission leaders not only adapt to new methods but make sure the "baby is not thrown out with the bath water" – in other words, that the proven methods of mission work remain.

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever," said Adeney, quoting Isaiah 40:8 from the Bible.

"God restores our mind and gives us opportunities. Missio Nexus offers us regular webinars and training events to keep us current, but as we pursue new methods let's not let the old gold slip away," she implored.

Adeney, who has a Ph.D. in anthropology and teaches at Seattle Pacific University and at Regent College, has written many books including Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity. The book was described by Publishers' Weekly as "an anthem to the new global Christianity" and featured as the first Book-of-the-Day at the most recent Urbana Mission Convention.

She also teaches in seminaries on five continents, and mentors Christian authors widely, "from the Arab world to Brazil to Borneo. Her other books include Daughters of Islam: Building Bridges With Muslim Women and God's Foreign Policy: Practical Ways to Help the World's Poor.

At the conference, she emphasized that mission organizations and projects should mirror the lives of Christians who practice their faith daily.

"Plain and simple ministries are gold – witness, maturing (discipling) believers, establishing churches, and serving the poor and oppressed through works of mercy and sustainable development," Adeney explained. "History has shown that where people don't have the Scripture in their language, where it is not accepted in their daily worship, and where they don't use it well, churches can die out across vast regions.

"But where they do have Scripture people feel empowered, they own the Gospel, they have it inside. Where people have the Scripture in their heart, the church will grow."

Conference host Missio Nexus formed nearly a year ago when the memberships of CrossGlobal Link and The Mission Exchange agreed to merge.

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