How Those Proselytizing Missionaries Shaped Our World

What comes to mind when you hear the word "missionary"? If you're like most people today, you think of someone who is naively idealistic at best, arrogantly colonialist at worst, and probably culturally insensitive all the way around. Having served in various places as a missionary, I've come face to face with these stereotypes more than I'd like to. It isn't that there aren't examples of culturally insensitive or imperialistic missionaries—there have been plenty. But they are vastly outnumbered by those who have changed the world for the better and who, because of the mood of this era in history, don't get much press. So when I read this article in the current issue of Christianity Today, I felt strangely vindicated. Even though I haven't done "career missions" in years, it's still part of who I am and, as indicated by Jesus' instructions, what every Christian is called to be.

The gist of this article is that the places in this world where "conversionary Protestant missionaries" served freely are the places with the strongest and healthiest democracies today as well as greater healthcare, education, gender equality, and other social benefits. The kneejerk assumption of most social scientists upon hearing this claim is likely skepticism with a lot of questions about statistical analyses and whether the correlation is actually one of cause-and-effect. And the social science side of me (I have a post-grad degree in that as well as in missions) is particularly satisfied by the answers in this article. 

So instead of rattling on in a lengthy blog post this week—and because I'm meeting this week with brilliiant, non-Western mission/discipleship leaders from around the world who are doing this work in their home cultures—I'll direct you to this fascinating read. It's well worth your time and, I can only hope, will help change perceptions about the mission of the church.

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©2013-present by chris tiegreen