Franklin A. Vander Meulen D.Min.
Changes in the world create new challenges and opportunities in the world of missions.
Globalization has many positive aspects but can lead to increasing anti-West, anti-Christian, and nationalistic attitudes which make it difficult for Western Christians to live and serve as traditional missionaries in many countries.But ease of travel and communication allows people with professional education and skills to work anywhere; this is an opportunity for Christians to live and work and be a dynamic witness to Jesus in urban centers and marketplaces, the ‘Agora,’ even in those same countries.
Many Christian professionals, not wanting to serve as traditional, donor-supported missionaries, are taking advantage of these opportunities and are reaching out to mission agencies for assistance.
The author investigated, through interviews with agency leaders in Canada, their perspectives regarding professionals’ readiness for cross-cultural, Christian witness in the Agora, and regarding the roles that the Agency, Assembly, and Academy might have in any equipping them for that. Two primary, broad, necessary characteristics of professionals are spiritual maturity and cultural awareness. Two means of developing these are experience and discipleship. Experience is needed in their professional field, cross-cultural interaction, and Christian ministry; discipleship is needed to integrate good theology into one’s life, work and ministry.
This project proposes a model for multi-faceted experience and integrated discipleship that moves professionals from self-awareness to Christ-like wholeness, and from cultural awareness to wise missiology. It summarizes roles for the Assembly, Agency, and Academy in general, and proposes specific action for Heritage Theological Seminary, in Cambridge, Ontario.