Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Punkification of Missions... Blessing or Curse?

Punkification. Adj. A word to describe what happens when a younger generation takes an established concept and adapts it to their needs and styles. For example, We are currently seeing the punkification of the church and her mission.

Great word isn’t it? Steve Moore of The Mission Exchange shared it with a group of us at The Forum, a gathering of the Fellowship of Short-Term Mission Leaders of North America.

Let me explain that term a little more. Punkification happens when the next generation wants to move on something, and the power structure puts up road blocks to that movement.

Here’s an example.

Jordan comes to you and says he wants to serve on the mission field. He tells you that he is sure God is calling him and he “just wants to go and serve!”

But you, being a fairly responsible deacon, elder, pastor, or leader, instead of being an encouragement, start to think of all the stuff he needs to do to successfully go and serve.

Finish college, get some training, sign on with an organization, raise money, etc. Before you know it, Jordan has a list of requirements that will take him years to accomplish. And that’s before we deal with stuff like tattoos, piercings, whacked out hair styles and clothes that don’t fit well. So he walks away dejected.

Or maybe, he decides to punkify the mission and the next thing you know he is somewhere in India where he went to serve the Lord and follow his calling.

As leaders, we are always in a sense gatekeepers. As Bob Priest pointed out at the very same conference, zeal without knowledge, from Proverbs 19, is also not good. So what do we do?

With modern travel means, the short, or even long-term mission trip is no longer just the domain of the established church in North America. Almost anyone can now get on a plane, and in just a few hours time, land anywhere in the world for missions work. The internet has also enabled perspective missionaries to make their own connections to local ministries around the world in a way that just 20 years was unthinkable.

The reality is that if someone feels called to go, they are going to figure out a way to make it happen. How can the church maintain a level of quality control for those missionaries, and at the same time, be an encouragement to those who want to go and serve?

Or, should we just not worry, commission and empower those who want to go, and trust that God will do the rest?

After all, that’s what I did...


Anonymous said...

Great job summarizing the tension the church is faced with Dave...this is probably most effectively solved locally (i.e. each individual leader and church) than globaly (i.e. denominations or large missions orgs) through mentoring, teaching and discipleship.

Lista said...

Good Article, Dave.

It Reminds me of a Similar Dilemma in Local Churches here in America. Those who are in Leadership Need to be Qualified to Lead and Also to be Living Holy Lives. Where it Gets to be Confusing is when we Consider Ministries that are More Basic and are not Necessarily Leadership Ministries.

Consider a Person who has a Problem with Drugs or Alcohol, for Example. If the Problem Continues, than this Person is a Bad Example, yet on the Other hand, if Given a Ministry Based on the Condition that he Remains Sober, then isn't this an Extra Incentive that will Help him Succeed?

I don't Know if that Relates to your Missionary Work or not. Perhaps it Relates to the Standard you have for Those who Want to be a Part of your Short Term Missions Teams, not as Leaders, but just as Part of the Team.

How do you Set those Standards? It's not an Easy Question to Answer.