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April 1972 · Vol. 1 No. 2 · pp. 47–57 

Creative Tensions in Mennonite Brethren Church-Mission Relations

Peter M. Hamm

Some years ago, just after I had purchased Stephen Neill’s Creative Tension, which contains the Duff Missionary Lectures of Edinburgh of 1958, a colleague of mine noticed the bold title of the book and remarked, “Creative tension? Tension I have enough, but who ever heard of its being creative?” Many pastors, missions executives, missionaries, and national leaders feel this way about church-mission relations today. They readily admit tension, but rarely do they see such times of stress as opportunities for a creative forward thrust.

At the risk of appearing pedantic, let me call attention to just a few of the titles, among the plethora of written works on the subject, which intimate this tension: Missions at the Crossroads; Revolution in Missions; Missions in Crisis; Missionary, Go Home!; The Ugly Missionary; The Unpopular Missionary; Missions in a Time of Testing; Protestant Crossroads in Missions: the Ecumenical-Conservative Encounter; The Missionary Between the Times; Missionary, Come Back!; and Missions in Creative Tensions: The Greenlake ’71 Compendium. 1

The term “creative tension” highlighted the theme of the recent EFMA-IFMA 2 conference at Green Lake, Wisconsin, in which 406 mission executives, missions professors, pastors, and national representatives met 3 to grapple with crucial issues relating to church-mission relations. The conference did not pretend to find the solutions to the problems, but it did focus meaningfully some of the existing tensions and sought for a new understanding of the creative potential implicit in church-missions relationships. The following essay is neither a precis of any of the foregoing books nor a report on the Green Lake Conference. Instead, it is an effort to expose recent and current tensions within the church-mission relations of the Mennonite Brethren Church, to analyse the causes which led to these tensions, and finally to attempt to propose a creative forward thrust as a result of such tensions.


The Green Lake Conference recognized four major bodies among which tensions in missions frequently occur—the North American churches, the mission agencies, the missionaries, and the overseas churches. Perhaps the complexity and dynamics of these tensions would become more apparent if one were to sketch the relationships. Let each of the bodies be represented by a small circle drawn well apart from each other within a larger circle. With a different colored crayon draw an arrow from each small circle to the other three. Remembering that each line represents a special relationship, one begins to see the extent of the dynamics which can foster good will or tension. Using this guide, let us discover the primary places of {48} hurt. We will begin with the sending churches and proceed to the receiving churches. 4

The Sending Churches. Perhaps the closest link between a local church and its mission in distant places is its missionary. Here is the embodiment of its mandate to apostolicity. The local church looks for men and women with conviction and calling and ability to communicate. It helps them to receive special training prior to their specific selection. It prays for their calling. It commissions them to an assignment. It gladly gives for their support and prays for their welfare and success in witness. When such a close link between church and mission is severed—whether through illness, unfaithfulness, voluntary withdrawal, recall by a mission board, or expulsion by government—disappointment and even tension invariably occurs. Although the church’s missionary task at home may not seriously be affected, the immediate involvement of the local church in its wider missions mandate, albeit by proxy, seems to be vitiated.

Early in the history of the Mennonite Brethren churches, it was realized that the local churches would do well to band together to conduct its evangelistic undertaking in distant places. And so the first Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions was organized. 5 Through the years the churches had a hand in the selection of Board members, carefully weighed the decisions of the Board, and sustained the Board prayerfully and financially in its task. When other mission agencies vied for support from the local churches, the churches usually gave preferential or even exclusive consideration to the Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions. When the local church became disenchanted with Board policies and actions, it reserved the right to discontinue its support, either officially or by sheer default. And so strained relationships develop.

Technological advances in transportation and communication, extensive tourism of our mission fields, and the increasing number of nationals who train in America, have shrunk our globe and brought the local churches in direct contact with the national churches. Granted, this is being accomplished largely on an individual or small group basis rather than on a corporate scale. As a result, however, a new relationship is developing between the sending and receiving church. While this has many commendable aspects, it does also bring with it tensions. For example, when a visiting national appeals to individuals or even to a church to contribute to a given need, does the church send its contribution directly to the source of need, or does it allow the Board to determine the priorities of need? Or if a Westerner during the course of his travels is overwhelmed with a specific material need on the field, should he be encouraged to give at once or should he put his offering in his local church from which a budgeted allotment is designated for missions? Shall he give impulsively and develop a close, personal tie with the national church or give through the proper channels, foregoing intimate involvement in favor of helping the Board to meet its commitments? Which pattern is more helpful in promoting the brotherhood?

And so, either by individuals who represent the church, or corporately, the sending church encounters tensions with its missionaries, its board, and even with the receiving church.

The Mission Board. No single person will sense more of the tensions implicit in church-mission relations than the Executive Secretary of the Board of Missions. Besides the routine of administration, the Board 6 will primarily occupy itself with finances, personnel, and policies. While each {49} of these areas of concern applies to the other agencies in our circle of relationships, perhaps the constituency is most closely related to tensions arising from financial concerns, the missionaries to tensions arising from personnel problems, and the national church to tensions arising from church-mission structural relationships.

To discharge its constituency-given mandate to plan and expedite an effective outreach in distant places, the Board is dependent upon a budget. To solicit funds effectively requires the confidence of the constituency. To interpret convincingly its needs to the constituency, the Board will need to be convinced of its purpose and be clear in its objectives; it will need to assess the mood of the times; it will need to enter responsive areas, and it must constantly evaluate the effectiveness of its strategy, even being ready to withdraw from a field saturated with witness or which is totally unresponsive. It will need to interpret realistically both success and failures to its constituency. To do all of this during a time of rapid change inevitably invites misunderstanding. And so tensions arise between the Board and its constituency.

The area of closest personal relationships is that between the Board and missionaries. The Board receives its first inquiries about service in mission from prospective candidates, screens and holds in confidence information about missionaries, assigns them to a task and field, orientates and counsels missionaries in their work, reviews their progress, determines their tenure, and decides upon their re-appointment after a term. 7 Not to appoint at all, not to appoint to an assignment of one’s choice, not to re-appoint after a term of service, not adequately to compensate for severance from service—all are potential areas of tension resulting from the action of a Board. Sometimes mistrust and hurt feelings develop on the parts of missionaries, although the Board, understandably human, has carried out its task in the best interests of the total church program.

Implicit in the sending church’s involvement in church planting is a structural relationship between mission agency and planted church. And this relationship is invariably determined by Board policy. Increasingly, however, the national church wants a share in determining the type of structural relationship that binds the two sovereign churches. The precise type of structure is frequently a point of discussion, experimentation, and even tension. Moreover, the structural relationship will vary according to the sociological and political milieu of a receiving church, the degree of selfhood attained and expressed by the church, and the length of time a sending church has been active in a certain area. As a result the Mennonite Brethren churches in India, Japan, Zaire, and Colombia may have differing structural relationships with the North American sending church, although basically “partnership in obedience” may serve as a policy guideline in shaping this structure.

The Missionaries. We have already considered the relationship of the local church and the Board to the missionary. Space forbids elaborating the missionary viewpoint of such a relationship. Personally, as a former missionary, I have no “axe to grind.” Yet, to say that there is not also the missionary’s interpretation of many a tense relationship would be unrealistic. Although Joseph Cannon in his book, For Missionaries Only, considers the fellow missionary as the “greatest problem” to the missionary, 8 I would think that, whether or not the missionary is conscious of it, his relationship with the nationals and national church constitutes the greatest cause for misunderstanding, frustration, and anxiety. And this does not deny the {50} many close and abiding friendships that missionaries establish. However, it does suggest that because of cultural differences he views the patterns of work, standards of efficiency, scrupulousness regarding time, and consistency in ethics through his own Western grid. The result is an ethnocentric view in which he feels quite justified. Yet, how often he may be the source of tension and frustration to one of another culture, only the national can tell. And we are living in a time of history in which nationals demand recognition, assert their rights and viewpoints (albeit from their own ethnocentric stance), and insist upon a share in the decision-making which affects them. Since the missionary represents the sending church, he frequently encounters the tensions which really arise from the basic differences in culture represented by the sending and receiving churches.

The Receiving Church. The increasing sensitivity of the receiving church of the Third World has been mentioned above in its relationships to the sending church, the mission board, and the missionaries. To view these relationships from the receiving church’s point of view provides a new perspective of the tension. If the planted church is sovereign within its own country, it may well desire the right to correspond directly with its sister North American church, instead of merely with one of its boards, i.e., its Mission Board. And the church in Shamshabad, India, may want to correspond directly with the church in Reedley, California. The Committee of Reference and Counsel in India may request the direct counsel of the Board of Spiritual and Social Concerns of the Canadian M.B. Churches. But such direct relations are frequently not practical because of the linguistic, economic, and social barriers which exist between otherwise parallel and sovereign conferences. One can expect a degree of misunderstanding where two churches with set cultural bounds seek to associate closely.

The receiving church, moreover, will increasingly request a greater share in the policy-making which has a direct bearing upon them. In a Mennonite Brethren world brotherhood, receiving churches will expect material assistance without necessarily requiring technical assistance or foreign personnel. As “partners in obedience” in the task of reaching the world for Christ, the receiving church may take the initiative in planning the outreach into a new field to which we will be asked to give our financial help and possibly personnel. Where its initiative is stifled or its ability to do the task underestimated, new tensions arise.

These, then, are some of the tensions which are currently being experienced or which we can increasingly anticipate. Why it is that we sense these tensions so keenly is our next topic.


Identifying tensions is surely much easier than analyzing their causes. And yet one can interpret, at least in part, some of the current uncertainly and ferment by examining the age from which we have just emerged. 9 Here we seek the first cause of such tension.

The Mission Comes of Age. On the denominational timeline, the Mennonite Brethren Church is but recent. Even prior to our beginning in 1860, some mission agencies grappled with questions of philosophy and polity. Yet (allowing for individual exceptions) we only began to consider these seriously somewhat over a decade ago. The Church Missionary Society of England, begun in 1799, and the American Board, begun in 1810, are two such examples. The China Inland Mission, begun by Hudson Taylor when our own denomination was but five years old, wrestled with {51} distinctive principles from its very beginning. Long before we sent out our first missionaries at the turn of the century, Henry Venn of the Church Missionary Society in 1854 gave currency to the three “self’s” of the indigenous church; Rufus Anderson of the American Board of the Congregational Church in 1856 emphasized that self-propagation had priority over self-government and self-support; 10 and Hudson Taylor from 1865 onwards enunciated his policy of diffusion to achieve widespread evangelism. At the time when our first missionaries left Russia for India, Roland Allen was already hammering out his methodology with his special stress upon rediscovering New Testament principles which fully included the dynamic function of the “Holy Spirit in the spontaneous expansion of the church. 11 By the beginning of the revolutionary quarter century (1945-69 were dubbed by Ralph Winters the “unbelievable twenty-five years” 12), our missions program was well on its way. But we were caught off guard so far as our formulated missions policies regarding church-mission relations were concerned.

But we have readily come of age with such progressive leadership as we have witnessed in the last decades. Considering the relatively short span of M.B. missions, we matured quickly, and, in fact, surpassed many another evangelical denomination and interdenominational mission in developing church-mission relationships which realistically look to the future. By the 1960’s, one century after the birth of our denomination and a little more than one-half a century after launching our own missions program, we had “come of age” and were prepared to enter full-scale into the arena of change and tension.

The “Euthanasia of Mission.” When Henry Venn in the mid-nineteenth century spoke of “euthanasia of mission,” he was not suggesting the death of missions as such. What he meant was that once a mission had planted a church it could die out as mission in that area and proceed to another unevangelized area. He strongly advocated the end of mission as a power structure in the midst of a national church and drew attention to the dangers of paternalism. 13 Even where Venn is properly understood, his “euthanasia of mission” produced much tension, and today’s missions historians still question his theory. Bishop Stephen Neill, for example, suggests that

such sharp separation between Church and mission as is implied in Venn’s solution seems to lack theological foundation in the New Testament. And the first attempts to carry out the principles of Venn’s dictum proved almost wholly disastrous. The establishment of the “Native Pastorate” in Sierra Leone in 1860, with the complete withdrawal of the missionaries from participation in the affairs of the pastorate, inflicted on the Church a paralysis from which a whole century has not availed to deliver it. 14

It was difficult for Mennonite Brethren to think in terms of “euthanasia” just after they had extended their outreach into many parts of the world. The shift from a paternalism implicit in the colonial days prior to World War II, when 99.5% of the non-Western nations were under Western dominance, 15 to a new “partnership in obedience,” 16 which dawned with the twenty-five unbelievable years, meant a radical adjustment. The very discussion of the withdrawal of the missionaries in India which has time and again been re-echoed by the government, the national church, or the home board, without fail caused new anxieties, renewed {52} evaluations of the progress of the work, and therewith new tensions. The “death” of the Missionary Council in India in 1960 and of the Missionary Administrative Committee in 1968 created no little anxiety for both missionary and national leaders. But these power structures had served their purposes, and although such “euthanasia” meant tension, it was nonetheless a consequence of growth and maturation in both the mission strategy of the sending church and the indigenousness of the receiving church.

Unpreparedness of the Fledgling Church. A further cause for tension is the lack of readiness of the receiving church. We have shown above how Venn’s principles had disastrous results in Sierra Leone in 1860. A similar attempt in Tinnevally, South India, twenty years later, would have proved equally disastrous had not a new generation of missionaries put the clock back by taking over again the control and direction of the church which had not yet attained growth and maturity. Stephen Neill maintains that without such maturity “independence” is but a synonym for disintegration and decay. 17 Sometimes, as in the Congo, political upheavals force the mission to take hasty action. Elsewhere, because of repeated government warning, as in India, the mission accelerates its program of withdrawal of personnel from the administrative positions of national church institutions and the transfer of its properties to the national church. Then, suddenly, the mission discovers that the institutions it has established and supported to meet the dire needs of a field are oversize as far as the national church is concerned. This applies not only to institutions which require subsidy but also to organizational structures and constitutions. Repeatedly leading national brethren in India assured us that when the missionaries are withdrawn the church will stand. But they were not so certain that the institutions and conference structures could be perpetuated without much erosion and a good bit of tension, or eventual disintegration.

Not only is lack of readiness on the part of the national church seen at times of radical change caused by political or financial crises, but it also becomes apparent when a Board introduces a major change and, especially, when there are frequent changes. Primitive cultures and classical civilizations resist change. Their people are usually not so conditioned to self-study, experimentation, mobility, and exposure of their weaknesses. For a mission arbitrarily to implement changes in structural relationships is greatly unsettling. It often results in insecurity and mistrust. I recall, for example, an intensive self-study conducted by the national church at the request of the Board. With the long-range projections required, the church arduously undertook its task. Shortly after, before recovering from the disturbing effects of the previous study, another self-study was requested. The uncertainties and frustrations of the first evaluation were but aggravated by the second. And while the Board thereby forces the fledgling out of its nest in its attempt to bring about independence, the tension of the receiving church intensifies.

Disillusionment with Leadership. First, the “colonial” type missionary came under attack. What a diatribe was levelled against his nineteenth century methods when, in fact, he was simply a victim of historical circumstances. This is not to acquit him of all indictments. No doubt, he made his mistakes. But too often he is castigated by those who little understand the historical-cultural factors which shaped his way of life. Few take the pains to investigate the extensive physical and cultural barriers which confronted him. This disillusionment with the traditional {53} image of the missionary has not only led to misunderstanding of an earlier generation of God’s servants but frequently to a wholesale disenchantment with missions as well. In the end the church at home suffers from lack of missionary motivation; for instead of extending its boundaries of outreach, the sending church is inhibited.

More recently, the modern missionary has been thrust into a similar dilemma. While he may encounter little risk to his health today, he is exposed to psychological and spiritual dangers quite unprecedented. His very race counts against him, since he belongs to the race that once ruled. In the few years following independence in the Congo, nearly one hundred Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries met their death. Someone commented, “They were killed because they were white; they died because they were Christians.” 18 Douglas Webster well characterized the modern missionary when he stated, “Once the missionary was needed, wanted, and welcomed; now in many places he is only needed.” 19 And to be misunderstood by those to whom you go to serve is a harder cross to bear than to be caricatured by the cynics in the homeland you have left behind. No doubt, the contemporary image of the missionary, both in the secular and religious settings, both at home and abroad, has been a major cause of tension, discouragement, and eventual defeat. For this reason a new understanding of the missionary’s role as servant must take place among missionaries, the sending church, and the receiving church.

But the tensions also develop among the national leaders. Administrative positions earlier held by missionaries become the source of tension as nationals vie for such positions of leadership. With lack of experience and great enthusiasm to administer, the young leader frequently finds himself in trouble—not with the mission, but with his own church. And so the tension continues.

The causes of tension are inextricably linked. The Mennonite Brethren mission work took root at the turn of the century; through slow progress it came to full bloom by the mid-century mark, when it came of age. With the up-dating of the mission approach, the role of the power structure of mission was reviewed and, within the next twenty years, thoroughly overhauled. Simultaneously the receiving churches felt the impact of change, often with trepidation and awkwardness as well as with eager anticipation and proud management. And with the de-emphasis of the role of the missionary and the focus on the national leaders, new tensions developed. And so we have entered a new era to which we must now give our attention.


Again we ask: how can tension then be creative? Instead of vitiating mission, the tension must entice us to re-think missions. Instead of blurring the present-day mandate of mission, the tensions must lead us to demythologize the deluding myths regarding missions and missionaries. Instead of dissipating our energies on the complex problems of modern missions, the tensions must inspire us anew to capitalize upon the existing and new openings for worldwide missions. Let us become more specific.

We need to reaffirm our commitment to mission. The reaffirmation at the surface quite removed from church-mission relations, must be thorough-going and hence include the following:

  1. It must begin at the grass-roots level of the local church. This is essentially an educational task. Seldom do we stress missions in Sunday school, {54} and missions conferences have lost their appeal; but if these avenues of exposure to missions have lost their effectiveness, new means of teaching missions in the home and in the church must be discovered. We need to re-state clearly a Biblical theology of missions. If we take the Bible seriously, missions cannot be relegated to a peripheral zone.
  2. It must clarify fuzzy thinking about missions. More and more we join the bandwagon which has the slogan that all we do is mission. While the church does have such an all-inclusive role of mission, the special mandate to go outside its constituency is still present. Finally, if all is mission, nothing is mission, and we have done semantic violence to the term mission.
  3. We need to grapple, at theological conferences, if necessary, with such fundamental evangelical statements on missions as the Wheaton and Frankfurt declarations. 20 To study issues such as neo-universalism, syncretism, Romanism, and evangelical-ecumenical encounter will sharpen our focus and bring a new urgency to our task.
  4. We need to do some corrective work. Where we have consciously, or by default, given the impression that we are closing shop by withdrawing missionaries, adjusting the budget, failing to recruit new personnel, we will need to correct the impression by some positive step forward. It is encouraging to observe that the Board is doing this very thing.
  5. We need to recapture the concern for the spiritually lost. The great revival movements of the history of the church have invariably led to renewed involvements in missions. We should anticipate that the recent revival movement in our own churches will have such an effect—not only to share the Good News to those in our neighborhood, but to distant places as well.

Once a basic reaffirmation to mission has been effected, the church mission tensions should resolve as the joint energies of the sending and receiving churches constructively confront new frontiers in missions.

We need to recognize the current frontiers of missions. Every generation has its own peculiar frontiers for mission involvement. Just because the nineteenth century pioneer missionary situation is virtually non-existent does not mean that this fifty-seventh generation since Christ has not its own frontiers. Here also we must dispel misconceptions and discover current opportunities. In this process, we must do the following:

  1. Understand the meaning of closed doors. Herbert Kane maintains that in Asia, which represents most of the world’s people, only six countries have expelled its missionaries: China, Mongolia, North Korea, North Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Burma. 21 Of the approximately forty nations which have become independent in Africa since 1960, only Guinea has expelled missionaries, and these only in part. One must not therefore paint a gloomier picture than really exists. Moreover, the fact that American missionaries are persona non grata in some countries does not mean that doors are necessarily closed. In such areas the American sending church may be able to assist the receiving church indirectly by helping other churches enter that land and by giving tokens of good will, as MCC has attempted in North Viet Nam. One should also remember that closed doors are not necessarily closed for ever. What seemed to be a closed door in Colombia in 1948-58 has become a wide-open door.
  2. Be realistic about closing doors. Kane suggests that we have a pathological preoccupation with closing doors. Yet some 50,000 Protestant {55} missionaries are currently working in more than 100 countries of the world. While we do not want to panic with every rumor of the expulsion of missionaries, we do want to observe rather closely the developments in countries such as India, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Angola where visas are increasingly more difficult to obtain. In such countries, especially, one consciously prepares for the eventuality of missionary withdrawal. If such withdrawal of missionaries precedes the actual closing of the door, as in India, it is but wise planning.
  3. Discover newly opening doors. In such countries as Nepal, Afghanistan, and Somalia, “proselytizing” is a criminal offence. And yet in recent years missions have utilized a gradually opening door. In such countries the “non-professional” missionary, the “tentmaker” who uses his vocation as a means to witness, replaces the traditional, “professional” missionary.
  4. Enter new frontiers of need. Often these frontiers exist in countries where missions have been conducted for many years. In such instances the church has not kept pace with the population shift to urban areas which results from industrialization and increased literacy. And the student world has rightly been described by Arthur Glasser as a growing, strategic, and neglected class. 22

Space forbids the exploration of other frontier areas open to the church through the mass media. But it is important to remember that, whatever the frontier, the local churches of the sending agency, the missionaries, and the receiving churches must constantly be kept informed of this changing world with its ever-changing opportunities for Christian mission. Such information will help resolve tension.

We need to respect the sovereignty of our sister conferences. Nothing will ease sensitive relationships with the receiving church more than to recognize the contribution it makes and to encourage it to participate with the sending church in mission.

  1. This begins with the acceptance of its sovereignty. Such recognition of sovereignty means participation together in a worldwide brotherhood. The (Old) Mennonites have given us an example of this at their recent meeting in Kitchener. There the churches overseas were represented in the making of decisions which affect the worldwide brotherhood of Mennonites.
  2. This means recognition of the gifts of its leaders. More and more we are realizing that the leaders of the receiving churches are fully capable, not only of managing their own affairs, but also of ministering to churches in the West. So we must listen carefully to what they say, rather than become preoccupied with how they say it.
  3. This also means that we will have to assist our brethren. Remembering, on the one hand, that we will have to give account to God for what we have done with our middle class, suburban affluence, and remembering, on the other hand, that the household of faith in many countries is in dire need, we will need judiciously to continue to give assistance long after the missionaries are withdrawn from a country. Such trust and concern for our world brotherhood will foster wholesome church-mission relations.

We need to transcend denominational boundaries in a new “voluntarism” in mission. Tensions frequently result in divisiveness, separation, and eventual isolation. But insularity and parochialism is precisely what the church cannot afford when the world is becoming so inter-related and inter-dependent. It is ironic that at a time of renewal in evangelism there {56} is not a renewal of worldwide sense of mission in our churches. To achieve wider involvement in missions, we will need to transcend denominational boundaries in certain types of projects. Before doing so, however, we will first need to have an appreciation for the work of our own denomination.

1. Understand the scope and limit of one’s denominational task and strength. This is not to advocate interdenominational or “faith” missions over against denominational missions. Instead, we must clearly define, carefully support, and cautiously evaluate successes and failures within our own denominational missions. This means that we must understand our limitations with reference to finances and expertise. It also means that we must guard against duplication among evangelical missions of costly efforts to undertake highly specialized mission endeavors. But this leads to our next suggestion. 2. Cooperate with other missions to accomplish what one denomination is incapable of doing well. To do this will require church-mission and mission-mission structures of another level. Ralph Winters has reference to such structures in his essay, “Churches Need Missions Because Modalities Need Sodalities.” 23 The modalities are the vertical church structures of denominational missions. The sodalities are the horizontal structures which transcend denominational structures, such “service” or “functional” mission agencies as the American Bible Society or Missionary Aviation Fellowship. The support for and participation in such sodalities in missions would come through a voluntarism advocated by R. Pierce Beaver. 24 Where local churches and individuals feel inhibited in contributing solely through the straight-jacket of denominational structures and budgets and where they, because of the depersonalization, have become discouraged and alienated, a new outlet for more personal involvement and spontaneous giving could be provided through the horizontal structures. Although the precise nature of such voluntarism needs more study, it seems clear that the increase of non-professional witness (i.e., fewer professionally trained missionaries) will require a variety of horizontal structures. This will then be the corrective outlet for tensions caused by current restrictions of modalities.

Even then, new tensions may arise in keeping a correct balance between modalities and sodalities. However, as long as the church of Jesus Christ is discharging its mandate, new tensions are bound to appear. But, until the consummation of the church in the glorious return of the Lord of the Church, the Holy Spirit will enable us creatively to find ways and means to fulfill that mission. He is Himself the creative catalyst in times of tension.


  1. The list of works is given in order of the publication dates:
    • T. S. Soltau, Missions at the Crossroads (Baker, 1954);
    • Blaise Levai, Revolution in Missions (Calcutta: YMCA, 1957);
    • Eric S. Fife, Arthur F. Glasser, Missions in Crisis (Inter-Varsity, 1961);
    • James T. Sherer, Missionary, Go Home! (Prentice Hall, 1964);
    • John Carden, The Ugly Missionary (London: Highway Press, 1964);
    • Ralph Dodge, The Unpopular Missionary (Revell, 1-964); {57}
    • R. K. Orchard, Missions in a Time of Testing (Lutterworth, 1964);
    • Norman A. Horner, Protestant Crossroads in Mission: the Ecumenical-Conservative Encounter (Abingdon, 1-968);
    • R. Pierce Beaver, The Missionary Between the Times (Doubleday, 1968);
    • Arden Almquist, Missionary, Come Back! (World, 1970);
    • Vergil Gerber, Missions in Creative Tension: The Greenlake ’71 Compendium (William Carey, 1971).
  2. EFMA stands for the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association, an organization, affiliated with The National Association of Evangelicals, of some 60 denominational mission agencies with over 6000 missionaries in 120 countries.

    IFMA stands for the Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association, a fellowship of mission societies without denominational affiliation including some 45 missions with over 8,500 missionaries serving in over 100 countries.

  3. The meeting was held at the American Baptist retreat center of Green Lake, Wisconsin, September 27-October 1, 1971.
  4. The term “sending church” stands for the church here at home which sends missionaries and other help; the “receiving church” is the newly planted or indigenous church which is the object of the sending.
  5. The conference at Ebenfeld, Kansas, 1896, resulted in the organization of an independent M.B. Mission board.
  6. The term “Board” is used loosely to include both the Board of Missions and Services members as well as its administrative staff.
  7. MOMAS, Manual of Operations (M.B. Publishing House, June, 1971), p. 24. An appointment is renewable after each term. No longer do we have a life-time assignment.
  8. Joseph L. Cannon, For Missionaries Only (Baker Book House, 1969), p. 35.
  9. Here we call attention to History’s Lessons for Tomorrow’s Mission, edited by Audrey Abrecht (Geneva: World’s Student Christian Federation, 1960).
  10. Peter Beyerhaus & Henry Lefever, The Responsible Church & Foreign Mission, (Eerdmans, 1964), pp. 255-32.
  11. David M. Paton, The Ministry of the Spirit: Selected Writings of Roland Allen, (World Dominion Press, 1960), pp. 1-61.
  12. Ralph D. Winters, The Twenty-five Unbelievable Years, William Carey Library, 1970). This booklet of some 114 pages is an exciting sequel to Kenneth Scott Latourette’s 7-volume A History of the Expansion of Christianity.
  13. One of the best treatments on the subject of paternalism and the church is that of Michael Hallis, Paternalism and the Church: A Study of South Indian Church History (Oxford University Press, 1962).
  14. Stephen Neill, A History of Christian Mission (Penguin, 1964), p. 260.
  15. Winters, op. cit., p. 12.
  16. The term “partnership in obedience” gained currency especially as a result of the International Missionary Council meeting at Whitby, Ontario, in 1947.
  17. Neill, op. cit., p. 260.
  18. Douglas Webster, Yes to Missions (Seabury Press, 1966), p. 25.
  19. Ibid.
  20. The Wheaton Declaration is published in the edited work of the Congress on the Church’s Worldwide Mission by Harold Lindsell, The Church’s Worldwide Mission (Word, 1966). The Frankfurt Declaration is published in the recent booklet by Peter Beyerhaus, Missions: Which Way? Humanization or Redemption (Zondervan, 1971).
  21. J. Herbert Kane, “Closing Door: Fact and Fiction,” Christianity Today, Vol. XVI, No. 4, Nov. 19, 1971.
  22. Eric S. Fife & Arthur F. Glasser, Missions in Crisis: Rethinking Missionary Strategy (Inter-Varsity, 1961), p.p. 193-209.
  23. Ralph D. Winters, “Churches Need Missions Because Modalities Need Sodalities,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Vol. III, No. 4, Summer, 1971.
  24. Ralph D. Winters & R. Pierce Beaver, The Warp and the Woof: Organizing for Mission (William Carey Library, 1970).
Peter Hamm is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at MBBC, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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