A new evangelical initiative aims to discern the areas of priority as the missionary community looks toward the future. Director Luis Bush launched World Inquiry with the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization 2004 and the School of World Mission of Fuller Theological Seminary. Results of the initiative will be released in Thailand next year.

Darrell L. Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary interviewed Bush in May at a preliminary Inquiry meeting in Seoul.

How has September 11 affected missions?

The impact of testimonies of missionaries in places like Afghanistan has created interest, awareness, and new commitment for serving God overseas in America. The renewed interest in activity in these countries has also increased the opportunities and the potential for misunderstanding and risk for missionaries in these highly sensitive fields.

[September 11] was an earthquake to nationals in several countries where persecution is intense and has become more intense.

What trends are currently challenging world evangelism?

Key trends include increasing globalization and urbanization. These needs are being met through a shift from nationwide initiatives to city-based initiatives. Seeing 18 city-based initiatives arise in India showed that this more localized approach did better than national efforts. What ministry in the cities [shows] is that holistic approaches driven by nationals are more effective in communicating the whole gospel.

There are also the ongoing issues of injustice and the rise of a more violent religious fundamentalism. Some of the greatest lessons for Christians worldwide today are coming for the lives and service of Christians ministering in the face of either persecution or such daily suffering.

What will the role of North Americans be in 21st century evangelization?

The 21st century offers new challenges as well as opportunities for North American Christians' involvement in world evangelism. In these first years of the 21st century tectonic shifts have taken place in the shape of the global-political-religious field of mission.

New concerns have arisen in different nations with regard to the presence of North American missionaries, a need that missionaries from other countries are often better able to fill. At the same time, there are varied opportunities for North American Christians to become involved in new ways by empowering nationals to fulfill their own dreams.

God is creating new initiatives worldwide with the dramatically emerging churches of the two-thirds world, so that the role of the American Christian in mission continues to change to an increasingly partnership and servant role in support of nationals. There are great needs in regard to training and biblical theological preparation for ministry among these emerging nationals, including the use of technology through the Internet as a highway of information as well as ministry into homes previously inaccessible to the gospel. There is also a tremendous need for North Americans to understand and appreciate what is happening in the rest of the church.

What are some of the exciting things happening in other parts of the world?

One example: Christian leaders from 10 provinces and 18 major house-church networks met recently in China for two days of consultation. They reaffirmed an earlier vision from the 1930's called "The Back to Jerusalem" movement—100,000 Chinese missionaries across the old Silk Road was the dream then. Preparation for training these missionaries is now underway.

Related Elsewhere

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization website has more information about the 2004 Forum and World Inquiry.

Bush published an article about World Inquiry in the May-June 2003 issue of Mission Frontiers (PDF).

Bush is also the former international director of AD2000 and Beyond.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.