faith missions

faith missions
   The global missionary agencies that emerged in the last half of the l9th century to serve the expanding Protestant community across denominational lines were called faith missions. By keeping their focus on the essentials of Protestantism, they were able to draw support from people in different churches who shared a common interest in a particular region of the world. They also tried to avoid exporting European and American denominational issues to other continents.
   The term faith mission derived in large part from the approach used by Hudson TAYLOR (1832-1905), founder of the China Inland Mission. With faith that God would provide the needed resources, he never solicited funds and did not guarantee salaries for missionaries, who had to live off whatever they received.
   Faith missions arose at a time when the model of centrally structured denominations was losing favor with many new church movements. only limited structures for fellowship were allowed by the Plymouth Brethren, the Restoration movement (the Churches of Christ, the Disciples of Christ, and the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches), and many Baptist groups; the absence of central bodies created a need for specialized mission societies. in addition, in the years between the American Civil War and World War II, Holiness churches and Pentecostal churches with a missionary zeal emerged faster than denominational organizations could respond; both movements spawned independent agencies to structure their missionary imperative.
   One of the first faith missions was the Christian and Missionary Alliance (1887), which would not be the last missionary agency that began as an interdenominational work and later evolved into a new denomination. some of the later interdenominational missions pioneered heretofore neglected fields - the Africa Evangelical Fellowship (1889), the Arabian Mission led by Samuel M. Zwemer (1890), the Sudan Interior Mission (1893), and the Africa Inland Mission (now the Africa Inland Church) (1895). At the same time, new agencies facilitated missions for the Holiness churches, the Oriental Mission Society (1901) being the most successful. As early as 1909, Pentecostals in Great Britain and the united states formed two missionary organizations, both named the Pentecostal Missionary Union (PMU). The short-lived American PMU was followed by such agencies as the Pentecostal Mission in South and Central Africa (1910) and the Russian and Eastern European Mission (1927).
   Charismatic evangelist Dwight L. Moody played a major role in energizing support for such activity Moody's student Frederik Franson founded The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) in 1990. Possibly the most important organization initiated and nurtured by Moody was the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM), which began in 1888 at a student conference held at Moody's Northfield, Massachusetts, headquarters. SVM would mobilize thousands of young adults to missionary service, including such notables as John R. Mott, Robert E. Speer, and Samuel Zwemer.
   In 1917, a number of the faith missions joined together in the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association of North America (IFMA), standing against the perceived liberal trends in the International Missionary Council. In 1945, the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association was created for American-based missions by the National Association of Evangelicals, with a wider base than the IFMA.
   in the post-World War ii era, relationships soured between agencies based in the newer Evangelical, Holiness, and Pentecostal churches on the one hand and representatives of denominations affiliated with the World Council of Churches and the International Missionary Council on the other. The more conservative churches, who believed the older Protestant churches had largely abandoned missionary work, initiated a series of world conferences reaffirming their commitment to traditional missionary endeavors. The most important of these was the 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism called by evangelist Billy Graham. The congress adopted the Lausanne Covenant, which remains a guiding document for Evangelical missions work. At this conference, Ralph D. Winter introduced the idea of frontier missions, calling for missions to hitherto unreached ethnic-linguistic groups.
   Two years later, Winter established the United States Center for World Mission and the William Carey International University (1977) to research the unreached people and mobilize Evangelical churches to carry out the task. The center became a breeding ground for programs and agencies that have remade the face of the contemporary missionary endeavor - the Adopt-a-People program, AD2000 and Beyond (especially active in the 1990s), and global mapping research. Combined with the work of David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson at the World Evangelization Research Center (now the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) and World Vision's Missions Advanced Research and Communications Center, a vast database on the status of Christianity globally has been made available and is having a profound effect in guiding the work of missionary agencies worldwide.
   See also Evangelicalism.
   Further reading:
   ■ David Barrett, The Encyclopedia of World Christianity, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)
   ■ E. L. Frizen Jr., 75 Years of IFMA, 1917-1992: The Non-denominational Missions Movement (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1993)
   ■ Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World, 21st Century Edition (Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster, 2001)
   ■ J. H. Kane, A Concise History of the Christian World Mission (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1995). A Scott Moreau, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 2000)
   ■ Ralph Winter and Steve Hawthorne, eds. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader; 3rd ed. (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1999).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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