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November 1962

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Vol. XIII, No. 11

DEC 20 1362
BRINGING OUR MISSIONARY METHODS UNDER THE WORD OF GOD Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, Director Division of World Mission and Evangelism, World Council of Churches

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The Presbyterian Church in the United States held a very significant Consultation on World Missions at Montreat, North Carolina, from the thirteenth to the nineteenth of October, 1962. Some 250 delegates [members and executives of the Board of World Missions of The Presbyterian Church in the Q.s., other officials of that Church, representative missionaries, and nationals from the areas of its overseas mission work/, consultants and observers met for frank and intense discussion of problems of the Christian mission. The following article is an address which Bishop Newbigin delivered before the Consultation on October 14. It deals with the foundational consideration which ought to characterize every inquiry into the motives, strategies, structures, and practices of the mission of Christ and His Church. The address is reproduced here by permission of the author and the Board of World Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. --Editor.

It is the proper character of a Reformed Church that we do as we are seeking to do here in this Consultation - reconsider our work as bearers of the gospel to the ends of the earth. If we dare to take to ourselves the title "ecclesia reformata semper reformanda", if we believe in the great tradition of the Reformed Churches that reformation is not a thing which is simply done once, but that on the contrary the Church must in every generation be ready to bring its tradition afresh under the light of the Word of God, then we will most certainly agree that the work of foreign missions is no exception to that rule. The commission of our Lord to his disciples to "disciple all the nations" is of unchanging validity until He comes again. But the forms in which that commission is to be fulfilled are most certainly subject to change. Foreign missions in the sense that we know them are a relatively recent form of obedience to the Great Commission. On the one hand they have been used by God to write one of the most glorious chapters in church history, but on the other hand, as we are becoming acutely aware, they have been perhaps more deeply molded than we; realized some time ago by the events of the secular world in the midst of which they were carried out, by the relatively short-lived though immensely significant movement of cultural and political expansion of the white races of western Europe into the rest of the world. Now that that temporary dominance has come to an end, it is natural that with such a profound change in the secular circumstances of the world the patterns of missionary action which have been familiar should come under drastic criticism. But at this point we need to be careful.

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then when that Ls finally broken down. a shout of joy. is under judgment.1.s properly approached? If under this title I were to produce a few general ideas of my own and then fetch texts from all parts of scripture. but to look afresh to our chart and compass and to ask how we now use the new winds and the new tides to carry out our sailing orders.that He is risen from the dead . How is t:j.ty in heaven and earth is His. liE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. It does not have about it that atmosphere of strain and anxiety which always characterizes a human program. but when that happens our job surely is not just to push over the ti. but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.t were the defense for the western way of life against communism.are in His hands to deal with as He will. He roots up and He plants. this unbelievable fact .l authority in heaven and earth is gi ven to me.yes. chapter 20.that is the starting point. and all things . The risen Lord with us . He is the alpha and omega. is to take a single passage of scripture which is close to the heart of our subject and to dwell on it with you.the conquest of death. a verse from here and a verse from there. verses 19-23. It The risen Jesus. t he first day of the week.we hear it talked about as if i.God forgive us . I think therefore that the right thing to do. Every new situation is a summons to bring all our traditions afresh "under the Word of God". It does not begin with a program of action. That is the point at which I believe we must begin." That means being utterly committed not only in word but in deed to the faith which takes every single thing on the assurance that Jesus is Lord.on begins with the risen Lord.the things that so baffle us and frighten us .is secondary. and if I am to essay some introduction to it I have to ask myself. He is not appealing to us to help Him to overcome the world.ller and sail before the winds of change . the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews. in which the manner and the substance of Christ I s Commission to Ht s Church are disclosed to us. There have been times when Christianity has been championed as the defense of feudalism against capitalism. As if who Christ is and what He has done were not good enough reasons to go singing to the ends of the earth. The Christian mission began not as something to be done for the world but as something God has done once for all . We are not intended to be conformed to the worLd. It begins with this tremendous. "On the evening of that day. and that the one decisive thing which governs everything else is that He is Lord. He has overcome the world. and now .ith incredulity. I take it for granted that what I say will by no means necessarily be accepted but that it will perhaps contribute to further consideration. of moral reformation. that hold . That phrase is a proper description. Jesus came and stood among them. some other reasons for urgency. broken cisterns. as the de rense of oligarchy against democracy. What nonsense : As though the Christian mission were a sort of spiritual arm for the cold war. Since no scripture is of private iLterpretation. to buttress these ideas. What fools we make of ourselves when we allow other things to get into the center of the picture J The context of the mission is the joy of the resurrection: "Al. some other grounds for commending the mission to others. The Christian missi. God uses the changes and chances of history to shake His people from time to time out of their conf'ormi. recognizing the limHations that it imposes. It begins with a shout of joy . Go therefore. first of all .ty with the world. There were times even in my own memory when I heard missions in India defended as a sort of cement for the British Empire. it is no adequate response to try now to be conformed to the world of the twen-· tieth century. How foolish we are when we allow ourselves to be tempted to seek some other source of authority and assurance for our mission. our way of life . seeking to draw out from it what I believe God says to us in it concerning our work. all authori. Jesus reigns. He builds up and casts down.-2- If we now see that we have been tao much conformed to the world of the nineteenth century. All of this is to forsake the living fountain and hew out cisterns. That means accepting that everything .. I have chosen for this purpose that text of scripture recorded in the Gospel according to John. I would not be dealing faithfully either with scripture or wUh this task. He is not struggling against a world too strong for Him.our desires.

t The mockery went out of t he driver and he was silent for a moment. and that therefore we cannot Just say "peace. is it surprising if they often think they see in us one element of western cultural invasion. And I need not remind you of all the depth and meaning which t he word "peace" ha s in t he Bible. but is it wholly untnle? Do we give the impression that at the heart of our activities there is the peace of God? That our words and deeds are but the brimming over of a fullness that springs up from below. seef. So he started talking: "Look what we've got here. Is that what we are? Where then does that anxiety. Old structures that gave meaning to life for former generations are being destroyed in every part of the world. But surely also we cannot speak to man unless we are able to speak to that longing for peace out of our own sure knowledge of the peace of God. perhaps not for our own sins but at least for the . we have no true and meaningful message. Old securities are being taken away. t hought this was a good occasion for a bit of mockery.the bearers of peace. a longing for peace deep in men's hearts. when they l ook at t he fragmentation of our Christian witness . for instance. God forgive us. The risen Jesus stood in t heir midst and said to t hem. If we are to be God's messengers today we need to be able to speak to that longing for peace. And that is all in the hands of God. shalom . then.-3no water. our exaltation of the administrator over t he minister. Father?". if it wasn't quiet it wouldn 't be heaven. Perhaps that is a hard saying. The longing for peace is very deep in men's souls today. that restless busyness come from that so often seems to infect our work? A man of God who recently spent some time in the Middle East trying to conduct retreats for the deepening of the spiritual life for pastors and others in that area reported that he had come to the conclusion that the headquarters of a mission were about as good place to conduct a retreat as the doorway of a department store. simply the fear of war . What's the latest news from heaven. The fullness of God's blessing on His people. and the stable societies to which so many men look back with nostalgia are gone and will never be reconstructed. would it. rather than the emissaries of t he peace of God? Above all.t hat word which in the Ol d Testament encompasses as it were everything that God has in store for His people. our enthusiasm about statistics. When the peoples of Asia.tLes . ''Well. the whole governing fact of the mission. but we have to look at ourselves sometimes the way others see us. from fear for ourselves and our civilization and our way of life.ll t he sense that there is a peace of God and that t hat is our proper hope . There is. Father?" The bishop said. . from the ever-flowing river of God's peace? I know it is easy to criticize. peace". when they see those who preach t he same atonement unable to live together in one family . though that indeed is surely something to be taken with the utmost seriousness. "Everything is quiet in heaven. peace with God. see our competing acti vt. that stridency. The whole context. and surely we know that peac e cannot be had on our terms but only on God!s terms. our anxiety to build up our own organi zati ons. is that Jesus is risen and that therefore He is Lord of all . the God who shakes the things that can be shaken in order that things whi ch cannot be shaken may remain.at those divisions which so often seem to be simply t he projection into Asia of the splintered society in the western world and which seem to have no real relevance to the problems with which men are wrestling in Asia today. There is a longing also for some structure of meaning by which life can be understood and lived with some stabili. peace with man. as we begin to repent. from other roots.ng the ecclesiastical garments. they sometimes seem to do. Then he said. "Peace be wit h you". and this is not only. The same is the case if missionary activity springs from selfjustification. That is what we are if we are truly the emissaries of the risen Christ . as. I think. JIm the bishop' s comment was that t here behind that brassy-hard atheism there was sti. He had to take a taxi one day in Moscow and the driver. If our programs spring. Some of us a few weeks ago heard a Russian bishop telling this story.ty.how hard it is for them to believe that we are really the bearers of the peace of God.

s day we go hungry and thirsty and in rags . Only if our preaching bespeaks the deep assurance that the Crucified reigns and that He has in Hi s authority the gift of peace. "Scum of the earth. you are honored.pating in His mission. he says. suggest Paul's description of the apostolate.. and if we have to know now that there :i. "God has made us apostles the most abject of mankind. And they abide in Jesus by partici. and it meant the right to boss other people ) to give orders . according to Paul.s .a spectacle to the whole universe. If things are changing now .-4al leged s i ns .f I try to speak about these questions it is not with the thought that what I say will necessar:"ly carry universal assent. shall we not accept it as God I s mercy that He has not given us up as worthless? Jesus said to them again. on the whole. It is itself a sending. And in India there used to be a discussion. it is to his suffering and to his humiliation that he points and not to anything else. to the "under-developed" peoples . They slander us and we humbly make our appeal.t hose are the marks of the missionary. That was what was called "mi.onary" does not have any particular status.rtyrs. the dregs of humanity to this day . We are like men condemned to death in the arena . will we speak to that deep longing in the hearts of men for peace. and try a l. is not the affair of an elite group.ed as the body which is to continue in the world that mission for which He came from the Father .t. we wear ourselves out working with our own hands.t would be evasion not to attempt at least to say what it seems to me the Word of God says to us ab out these thi. not so long ago.d we go so wrong that we produced such a caricature of what the New Testament says about apostleship? Surely the missionary movement has its roll of ma.rnt. But if we look at our whole operation again from the angle of the peoples to whom it is principally directed." The apostles. Where di. you are so powerful. "Peace be with you . His peace is not the wor-Ld s pe a c e .onary st at us'": Tha. from a wealthy and influential and powerful organization. It meant a person who could command privileges and perquisites and. As the Father has sent me so send I you't. it does not.• we are roughly handled.ittle bit of righteousness by works. truths are not disputed among us. not the kind of peace the world expects.y" . They curse us and we bless. It is in this sending that the Church receives its being. praise be to God.atus'". it is not freedom from tribulation but peace in tribulation.stians! We are weak. does it? It looks too often like something quite definitely from the haves to the have nots. These biblicaJ. above all. as the world counts these things. poverty. therefore. and in the New Testament these are clearly also the marks of the nrl s s i . distinct from the Church.s no political power that is going to back us up. There is plenty of evade-nee in missionary literature to confirm that impression. they persecute us and we submit to it. . and surely also from the point of v i ew of the major ve st. One might almost say that in the New Testament suffering is the primary form of witness to Jesus Christ. The mission. the power of giving orders to other people. you see. which is God's mission. We are in disgrace. Listen again to these words in which he speaks of what it means to be an apostle. To thi. By it they are cons t Lt. And i. We are treated as the scum of the earth. about whether Indians should be given "mi. j "Lt seems to me". The mission.f our predec e s sors.are the marks of suffering borne for others. but simply that i. The marks of this peace .s sf. When Paul is driven reluctantly to defend his apostleship against those who doubted it.ssd onary st. while you are such sensible Chri. angels as well as men . For it i s the Cruc i fied who offers us this peace.the marks of His hands and His side . We are fools for Christ :s sake.ern co.ngs. is entrusted to the whole body of those who believe in Jesus. we wander from place to place. dregs of humanf.• if we have to accept weakness.ut. are definitely among the have not. To whom does the Lord speak these words? Is it to a small group among the d i s c i p l e s or is it to them all? Surely there can be no doubt among us: this Commission is addressed to the whole company of those who are the witnesses of His resurrection.on .t was really the phrase that was used. and rejection.r'Le s the category of "mt ssf. but we know that the application of tcese truths to our practice raises questions on which we are not agreed.

Have we been conformed to the world or have we been conformed to Word of God? Of course. and into that fellowship the converts came as members with those who were in Christ before. that would be wholly to misuse the scriptures. Why. did we come this position that f or the sake of the spiritual independence of the church there had to be not only this dichotomy.the brotherhood of Carey and his friends . and I have seen what seemed to me the inevitable results of that. But if that is a true analysis. one's convictions in these matters are always shaped by one's own experiences. the Antioch Mission and the other t he people of God in that place. so to say. The same is true in the first beginnings of the mission in which I worked. in order to give the Church its spiritual freedom. in the Presbytery in which our work was . where at the outset it was never organized otherwise than simply as the fellowship of Christ's people in this place. sitting as a member. the Church of Scotland Mission in Madras. into which the converts came and lived 11terally as part of the family. but that this was what it meant to be a Christian. therefore. I have lived on the one hand in situations where the mission and the church were two quite distinct and separate organizations with a total administrative dichotomy. and that it could therefore with a good conscience proceed to attend to its own affairs. Why was that necessary? Why was it not possible for missionaries and Indians to live together in one fellowship without the former dominating the l atter and without the latter losing their birthright of freedom? Why this contrast with. Now of course if we begin to talk of these matters. where the most colossal contrasts. what we see in the Epistle to the Ephesians. so to say. slave and f r ee . And yet I cannot help feeling that this total administrative dichotomy between two bodies. as I was entitled to do. Jew and Gentile. precisely because from the very first moment there was never any doubt on that point. The convert reali zed that there was no other organization which would do this over his head or alongside of him or instead of him. and where from the first moment of baptism new converts understood that being baptized meant being baptized into a mission. They were from the beginning simply the Church. where there was no separate organization called a mission. And I have seen in such circumstances the Church multiplying itself by a kind of spontaneous expansion. one. then. then the question arises. And is i t not interesting that we do not find this dichotomy at the very beginning of the modern Protestant missionary movement? Those gre at men of Ser-ampor-e . it seems to me.-5At every point. free from control or undue influence by the missionary. one called a church and the other called a mission.were transcended in Christ. is in such flagrant contrast with anything that we find in the New Testament that it does demand a very critical examination. The church. Certainly. Scripture does not provide us with administrative blueprints. we must immediately agree that it is wholly improper to try to make direct deductions from scripture for the details of administration. in or der that the Church might be free to develop its own selfhood. That is what they called themselves. one can hardly conceive of how Paul's letters would have been written if in each of the places to which he wrote he were in a sense writing to two quite separate bodi e s . so that there is but one body as there is one spirit? Why was that which was possible there not possible here? And why. took the hint that it was not the mission. but the missionaries themselves had to be put in the position where they were contradicting by their practice what they preached about the nature of the church? I have never forgotten a moment in my own experience as a young missionary when.contrasts beside which the cultural difference between a missionary and his Indian convert is nothing .never organized themselves as a Mission. and therefore perhaps the most honest thing is to begin by saying what those experiences have been. for instance. But I have lived also in circumstances where there was no such dichotomy. we have to ask ourselves. was the decision made in so many places to depart from that pattern and to set up an organizational dichotomy between mission and church? I think i t is clear that the answer in almost every case was. and that the first implication of baptism was that one went and talked to other people about the experience in Christ.

Alas. How did it come that we were put int o this position where we were throwing down with one hand what we sought to build up with the other. And so in spite of our belief about church and mission we cre ate.t was. indeed all too often. this is what we must try to do. I may be wrong. the same region. And. but my own conscience compels me to say that it was there that the world penetrated into the Church. a discussion was going on concerning a certain pastor who was refusing to submit to the Presbytery in a matter where the Presbytery had proper jurisdiction. which brings us perhaps to the heart of it. we ought to have African leadership in the church". but some of us knew at that moment that we would never rest until that scandal was ended . with the utmost f'r ankne ss and above all with submission to the Word of God. where we were contradict:i. I am sure that this seeking must take us to the point where we sit down together in fullest partnership and frankness. And clearly it is no answer now if we simply swing around and become c onformed to the world in another way.-6placed. this new supernatural creation in Jesus Christ wherein the deepest human differences are transcended.ng of our minds so that men will see in our corporate life. in our church-missi on relationships. I have the impression sometimes. The churches placed by God in the same places with the same responsibili. older and younger churches together in the same area. One heard such phrases as "in an independent India these things ought not to happen". not a mere echo of the pressures of the world. And at that moment we had to say "No". rather than conformed to the basic truth of the nature of the Church as we read it in scripture and as we expounded it every time we preached.ties must together. We were not permitted t o accept the spiritual jurisdiction of that court of the chu~ch in which we sat.vorld. try to find out. or "now that Africans are in charge of government affairs. and of the obligation of those who served to acknowledge and honor the court of the Church. He breathed on them and . to know what is good and acceptable and perfect. This may not have been true of other gr oup s . One or two missionaries arose and spoke in moving terms and in the most scriptural way concerning the nature of the Church as the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spi r i t . Then you will be able to discern t he wi l l of God. that it was done not out of deep conviction from the Word of God. I must simply say that I think it was true of myself and of others with me that we were too much shaped by the world in which we lived. the world of the colonial pattern in which it was accepted that a white man was in charge. but because the pressures of the world around had changed. not how we maybe conformed to the world in this new post-colonial era int o which we have entered.ng by our practice the very central thing that we were trying to teach with our lips ? Why was it that we did not trust the church enough to believe that we could place ourselves Wholly under its authority? I cannot escape the conclusion that it was because we allowed ourselves to be conformed to the . But that can only be as we attend to this further word in this passage. because the rules of our mission forbade such submission to the Presbytery in India. and that a person who was not w hi t e was only put in charge if he had been so rigorously trained by a white man that he could be counted upon to act just like a white man under all ci." Well. '~ill you missionaries do the same?". in the whole structure of our work. Let me use the readi ng from the new translation. Then one of the Indian brethren got up and said. "When He had said this.rcumstances . And surely this is the treason of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Paul tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world. but something that represents in truth this new creation. this dichotomy. "Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed . facing the same tasks. to seek together to discern the will of God. but how we can be transformed by the renew:i. that missions have only finally surrendered their control when the political situation around them made it impossible to do anything else. i. The pattern of relations between mission and church was conformed to the pattern of the world around us. thank God.

and send him to take charge of the "congregation".-7said 'Receive the Holy Spirit " '. somebody whom you had tutored in the mission training school and whom you knew and trusted. Certainly the Apostle possesses. Paul takes it as fact that the Holy Spirit gives to these companies of believers all the gifts they need for their up-building and for their witness. It means that one can never . Have we taken seriously enough the clear teaching of the New Testament that witness is an activity of the Holy Spirit and only secondarily and derivatively our action? That it is essentially an action of which He is in control? Now I know that no Christian would deny this in theory. And it begins precisely by listening long enough to find out what it is that the Holy Spirit has already begun to do.t might be. the point around which so much missionary debate has centered in the past decades. and taking that person or those persons as the ones whom He has chosen to begin the good work. The secret of this assurance is that the Holy Spirit is present among them and is in control. with all its manifold weaknesses and even scandalous sins. an apostolic authority. is able to furnish those whom He calls into the fellowship of Jesus with all the gifts that they need for their corporate life in Him? Even if those of the fellowship are. ~~d here I believe is the place where we shall find the word of God questioning us most sharply. but I ask. and we have therefore allowed the work of missions to become assimilated to the processes of western cultural invasion.tter vhi ch determines what one does in practice. At every point when the Lord's commissioning of His disciples is spoken of. not many nob Le"? Or have we been so conformed to this world that we have distrusted that power. who is free and sovereign. Have we taken it seriously enough in practice? Have we acted on the belief that the Holy Spirit. the scum of the earth. but that one takes this work that the Holy Spirit has begun as the core and foundation of all that is to follow. for instance.t. This sending is not the mere commissioning of a human expedition. as Paul says. There is no period in which the church is independent. and therefore as being not independent and not dependent but always and from the very beginning in a position of reciprocal interdependence with the other members in the body of Christ. Their only authority is that they share the humility of Christ. so that we have made of it an affair in which we were responsible for directing a process of teaching and training for the so-called younger churches until in our judgment they were ready for responsibility? This is the point at which the thing becomes so clear. After the experiences of the last twelve or fourteen years of my missionary life in India. . As he ironically reminds the Corinthians in the passage that I read. they are the wise and wealthy ones. It determines. as it was said. But it is wholly different from that coercive financial and administrative control wielded by missions over churches in recent decades. and is not afraid to use. there is close in the background this promise of the Holy Spirit. not many mighty. I learned that the way you dealt with a group of people who came from a village asking for Christian instruction and baptism was to look for a trained. From the very beginning everyone of these young churches. And that is not a pious platitude. It means finding the person or persons whom the Holy Spirit has already touched. "not many wise. the patterns of missionary action. It is only in the power of the Spirit that we can be sent out. it is a ma. I know that there is another way. salaried agent. When I went as a young missionary to India. and then building on that. in whom He has already kindled this faith in Jesus. and he and his fellow apostles are paupers. however ignorant and primitive i. the dwelling place of the Holy Spiri. There have been the questions: At what point does a mission hand over responsibility to an independent church? How long should the period be in which missionaries are in control? But what does not seem to have been noticed is that the question does not seem to arise at all in the biblical situation. is treated as simply the body of Christ in that place. elbow that person aside in favor of the more highly trained and dependable agent of the mission.

The Church thus confesses that the Spirit is the sovereign.-8That of course leads on to further questions. as insoluble pastoral problems. The Holy Spirit leads and goes out ahead where the Church did not expect Him to go. at least. We are not seeing these as God's missionary invitation. for instance. and which cDmpel us to refrain from doing so? I put these things as questions because I know they are highly controversial. we will not be able to follow where the Holy Spirit leads. He goes ahead of the Church. To take that seriously also means saying something about our priorities. more in administering than in ministering? Why do the typewriter and the duplicator seem to bulk so much more largely than the Bible and the kneeling mat? Why do we have to take it for granted that the ablest young graduates of our theological seminaries in at least many of the younger churches will not go into the pastoral ministry because they are equipped for something "hi ghe r'". and to academic and sociological criteria. What relative place do we give to this. and so on. God is sending men and women allover the country. and the result is what one might expect. Now I believe that this is something which has tremendous relevance to the whole missionary advance of the Church in our time. There are situations allover India today. we are not free to acknowledge those ministries and make them fully a part of the ministry of the Church. and so allowed our- . He baptizes Cornelius with the gifts of the Spirit. changes its practice. In South India we have been brought to the point where we are ordaining to the holy ministry not only men with the highest possible academic qualifications but also very simple village men. I do not believe it is conceivable that we can meet the demands of our time on the basis of the institutionalized patterns of the past. about the nature of the ministry. acknowledges. Was it that we did not take seriously enough the truth that the Holy Spirit is the missionary. or are we tied and bound by sociological and institutional categories which have right of way over that spiritual discernment. and over there a single Christian midwife and no other Christian for a hundred miles. But this I believe is not controversial: unless the Church can recover a kind of flexibility in these matters which it does not at present possess in most at least of its branches. in determining our policy about the ministry? When the Holy Spirit has manifestly bestowed the gifts of ministry on a man and is using him for converting men to Christ and for building up the church. He raises up a congregation in Samaria. on the other hand. that we prized such posts most. on the one hand. Surely what strikes one when one reads the Acts of the Apostles is both that the Holy Spirit always leads and also that the Church follows. controversial questions. God forgive us. about the question of how seriously we take the faith that the ministry is essentially a body equipped by the Holy Spirit. for some administrative position somewhere? Have we set the wrong patterns? In so many places was it not the administrative jobs which we were the last to give up? So it seemed. and do not see them as colossal missionary opportunities. does it not? Why is it we have created in so many situations a picture of the work of missions which seems to be centered more in the office than in the sanctuary. But the Church follows. where God is scattering the congregation. are we willing to acknowledge that fact and to commit to that man the ministry of the Word and Sacraments in the Church. the only true controller and strategist of the mission of the Church. when the Holy Spirit takes a man or a woman like that and uses this individual to become the nucleus of a new and liVing congregation drawn out of the unbelieving world. And we do not see them thus because. more in the program than in prayer. patterns which were themselves only possible in the period of the political and economic cultural expansion of the western world. we see them only. so that you have a place here where there is a single Christian policeman and no other Christian for fifty miles. accepts the lead. some of whom were illiterate when the Holy Spirit began to use them but who are bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit abundantly. and another out of the uncircumcised Greeks in Antioch.

personal or corporate.. People came to look at this church and to ask why this was happening. can we commend Christ effectively. they are forgiven. where forgiveness is known.ng Jesus in the midst of the Church. is the overflow from a heart overwhelmed by the goodness of God. There one saw how easily the church could be a place where righteousness has become self-righteousness. our programs can become mere propaganda . of the kind that are normally regarded as unreachable by the gospel.any. were being baptized . abiding. continually deepened life of disciplined prayer. and yet a place in whi. That is the dread responsibility that rests upon the Church. And there was nothing to put down in the notebook! Have we got our priorities wrong? This takes me to the last and most difficult words in this text. in many. we pray and they come'". administrators of programs came along with their notebooks to ask the pastor what he did. the place where the mercy seat is. '~e don't have a . they are retained. where righteousness and peace have kissed each other.ch there is forgiveness. 'tJesus stood among them . " . what was the program. joy in Him." The very heart of our mission lies in the presence of the livi. visibly present . Only as the lineaments of such fellowship begin to be discernible to the world will the world be able to believe that here is the mercy seat. adoration of Him. And conversely. personal communion with Him. the place where mercy and truth have met together. There is no place at which r-enewal.and they were glad.p r ogr am. where everybody is kept happy and cooperative and where the devil is never troubled. True missionary zeal. we cannot just skip the bits we find hard. He kept on saying. is there the reality of a new community in which righteousness and peace are met together. I find the meaning of this text most vivid to me in microcosm. Without that. "If you forgive the sins of . in which the common debt to our Redeemer wi. if you retain the sins of any.pes out everything that has been exposed. Only when the cross is in the center. is more fundamental. a fellowship Ln which these deep and terrible differences are not glossed over in a mush of superficial friendliness. more essential than here . The same is true if ve look at this in macrocosm on the scale of the world-wide mission of the Church in this divided world of ours. and then we become mere proselytizers. There is a word at the beginning of this passage that I hardly touched. only when that new community is present. many Vividly remembered experiences in village congregations where bitter <1uarrels came up for settlement. enduring missionary zeal. joy in Him. a fellowship in which both righteousness and peace are present. the place of forgiveness. driven by our own anxieties and fears. At the least this passage means that the Church has been sent into the world as the concrete instrument of God:s forgiveness . a congregation of the Pharisees. But at the heart of all true mission there is the presence of the living Christ. It is the place. Let me finish with it. Do you ever find yourself terrified by that text in Matthew 23: "You cross land and sea to make one proselyte and when you have done so you make him ten times more fit for Hell than yourseLf'"? Our programs can become mere exercises in egotism. only when the mercy seat is there in tne center. the loveliness of God. the inward personal communion with Christ. but if we accept the scripture as the source of light and the standard of teaching. a place where everything is easy-going. Only Christ can create a fellowship strong enough to endure the tensions of the cold war. therefore.t Formidable words! pne could wish to be excused from trying to interpret them. mere peddlers of our own wares. or else a place where peace has become appeasement. by God's appointment. Strategists of mission came along to look at it. But this spirit can go out of the missionary effort. be a continually renewed. . . adoration of Him who is the Lord and Saviour of all. but faced in honesty.that at the very heart of all our service there should. It is.-9selves to be conformed to the patterns of the world and to become the mere administrators of a program? There is a church in Madras which for a number of years was astonishing everybody by becoming the place where a succession of distinguished high caste Hindus.