Essentials of World Missions - Lesson 10

Top Ten Things the Church Should Know about Missions

Finally, we conclude the practical section and the course with a discussion of the top ten things the church should know about missions.

Timothy Tennent
Essentials of World Missions
Lesson 10
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Top Ten Things the Church Should Know about Missions

Practical Applications and Strategies, cont.

VIII. The Top Ten Things the Church Should Know About Missions

A. The Rise of the Non-western Church

B. The Urban Context of Missions

C. Access and Viability Criteria

D. The Role of Short Term Missions

E. The Importance of Strategy

F. Evangelistic and Missionary Mandates

G. Church Planting

H. Growth of Pentecostal Christianity

I. The Way Missionaries Are Sent Out

J. Our Mission Kids Have Grown Up

  • Dr. Tennent begins this summary course on World Missions with a definition of the terms “mission” and “missions,” and gives us an understanding of the mission of God, that missions begins with God and his missionary heart.

  • We now walk through the Great Commission in each of the Four Gospels, highlighting their unifying themes and the distinct message that each Gospel writer highlights.

  • Dr. Tennent address several objections that people have to the uniqueness of Christ and the exclusive nature of the Gospel message. He also defines for us what actually qualifies as "missions."

  • In this second part of the course, Dr. Tennent explores the history of the church’s expansion into the world. He focuses primarily on the modern period and looks at what makes the modern missionary period unfold in the way that it does.

  • We begin the practical section of the course with a look at the full circle of missions strategy, which is based in several passages of Scripture. Dr. Tennent uses Acts 11 as an example of this four-step process.

  • At this point in the lessons Dr. Tennent turns to examining some modern missiological techniques, the kinds of things that churches are using and understanding to be better equipped to serve missionaries. He also lists five different categories of missionaries.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Tennent recommends six tasks that every local church should consider in order to be more effective in their overseas missions work.

  • Dr. Tennent explores several trends, both positive and negative, in modern-day missions, along with a quick look at the importance of understanding world religions.

  • Dr. Tennent dispels the top ten myths about missions, so that we can be better equipped to think appropriately about the great missionary cause.

  • Finally, we conclude the practical section and the course with a discussion of the top ten things the church should know about missions.

Beginning with a Biblical foundation, the course examines key Scriptural passages in both the Old and New Testaments that relate to the mission of the church. The second part of the course addresses key theological and cultural challenges that the church faces in proclaiming the gospel and establishing culturally relevant and viable churches. The third portion of the course exposes the student to key concepts in 21st century mission thinking, including mission strategy, the role of forging global partnerships, and the need to focus on church planting. Throughout the course, the emphasis is on practical ways the church can be more effective in ministering cross-culturally and fulfilling the Great Commission.

There is a 15 hour version of this course in which Dr. Tennent covers these topics in more detail. The title of the course is World Mission of the Church and you can find it at https://www.biblicaltraining.org/world-mission-church/timothy-tennent

Recommended Books

Essentials of World Missions - Student Guide

Essentials of World Missions - Student Guide

The purpose of this course is to provide a broad introduction to the worldwide mission of the church of Jesus Christ. Beginning with a Biblical foundation, the course...

Essentials of World Missions - Student Guide

Dr. Timothy Tennent
Essentials of World Missions
Top Ten Things the Church Should Know about Missions
Lesson Transcript


In this final lecture, I want to just briefly summarize, as we bring this to a close, the summary lectures. The course ends by my summarizing what I believe are the top ten things the local church should know about missions in the 21st century. This is largely a recapitulation of many themes that we’ve covered throughout the course, so I want to just cover these very, very quickly just to give you a flavor of that and hopefully it’ll help you in your own thinking as you reflect on this course.

1. The Rise of the Non-western Church

Number one. Every church should be aware of the dramatic rise of the non-Western church. The number of Christians that are now coming forth from the non-Western world—if you happen to read Philip Jenkin’s book, The Next Christendom, you’ll see the statistical analysis, and the tremendous number of non-Western Christians that are rising up today, and this is a huge factor in our missionary thinking.

2. The Urban Context of Missions

Number two is the urban context of missions. I’ve already shared about this, but the number of people who now live in cities outnumbers the people who live in rural areas, and we have to re-tool our thinking regarding urban missions.

3. Access and Viability Criteria

The third of the top ten things a church should know about missions in the 21st century is the call for churches and mission boards to apply the access and viability criteria in order to be effective in establishing their financial priorities, and before they commit money and resource and personnel to the mission field, they should ask, “Does this person in this mission field have access to the gospel?” “Is the church in this field viable?” If there is not sufficient access or the church is not viable, then it is a good priority perhaps to send a missionary. But we need to be more careful about not sending missionaries to where the church is already viable and where there already is sufficient access to the gospel.

4. The Role of Short-Term Missions

The fourth is the role of short term missions, and I talk a lot about the importance of having a smart, short-term missions program that resonates with several things I’ve said throughout the course.

5. The Importance of Strategy

Fifth, I bring out the importance of strategy and really understanding the non-Christian peoples with whom we’re working.

6. Evangelistic and Missionary Mandates

Number six, I really demonstrate the importance of distinguishing between the evangelistic mandate and the missionary mandate. We have to see that difference and how important it is to remind ourselves of the difference between the cross-cultural task and the mono-cultural task. Both are essential tasks, but both are different tasks.

7. Church Planting

The seventh of the ten is that the goal of missions and the goal of the Great Commission is church planting. This is a theme that runs all through the course, the importance of church planting, that today the global evangelistic thrust is moving much faster than the church planting thrust. That means more people are coming to Christ than have sufficient time to be incorporated into the local churches. 

This creates a real problem. Cults come in, there begin to be problems with the maturity, and the heresies come in, all kinds of difficulties, because we’re not focusing on incorporating our new believers into churches that can then multiply and be discipled.

8. Growth of Pentecostal Christianity

Number eight of the top ten is the growth—the dramatic growth—of Pentecostal Christianity. This is a very dramatic thing that is changing the face of missions, and we should now recognize that it’s difficult to go almost anywhere today without seeing the impact of Pentecostalism on the worldwide Christian church, including the missionary force and including the indigenous Christians that are coming forth, and so forth. So, churches need to be aware of this and be comfortable with working with the great army of Pentecostal-oriented believers around the world today.

9. The Way Missionaries Are Sent Out

Nine is the importance of recognized that how missionaries are sent out today is changing dramatically. We have missionaries being sent out in a wide variety of ways. We looked at tentmaking, we looked at the importance of the local churches role in sending, and so forth. We looked at the rise of indigenous missions. So all of these are factors in how missionaries are sent out today, some as professional tentmakers, some as full-time church planters, some in various kinds of other activities, gospel-related.

10. Our Mission Kids Have Grown Up

Finally, number ten is the importance of recognizing that our mission kids have grown up. That is to say that the Christians that have come upon the mission field are now—many of them—maturing Christians with churches that are themselves setting out various missionary goals, church planting goals, and we have to increasingly begin to work cooperatively—more cooperatively—with the national churches and with the missions boards that are being set up by the national churches, so we can effectively work together for the sake of the Christian gospel.

I want to close with this great assurance we have from our Lord Jesus Christ. Because our Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:14, that before the end of time, this would happen. He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end shall come.” This is the great promise we have, and we can look back and see that our Lord Jesus Christ has set this vision for the church in keeping with the Abrahamic promises, in keeping with the whole heart of God in the Missio Dei: Christ gave us the Great Commission, Christ sent us out into the world.


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