Journal of Applied Missiology, Volume 7, Number 1



Ed Mathews

To most people, the usual and routine are invisible because they are usual and routine. Or, to state it differently, one can be sure that water was not discovered by a fish!

Most people are not interested in changing the usual and routine. They cannot imagine the need for doing so because it is invisible to them. In order, then, to get people to consider changing something, they have to think about it. To think about it, they have to see it.

One way to make the usual and routine visible is to draw attention to it. Air is literally invisible. People tend not to notice it until they do not have it. One way to make the usual and routine in mission visible is to draw attention to its significance. For instance, by not doing something that is routinely expected, a person can make the usual quite visible.

Not doing something can be the most effective strategy for getting something done. Why? Inaction is the most difficult action with which to deal. As Yogi Berra once said, when looking at the empty seats in Yankee stadium, "If people don't wanna come, you can't stop em."

What changes would occur, for example, if God paid attention to us the same amount of time we paid attention to Him? What would happen if wives did only as much for their husbands as their husbands did for them? What modifications would be made if missionaries communicated with their supporting church only when their supporting church communicated with them? In each case, the usual and routine are made visible.

A missionary on furlough made the invisible instructions of the mission committee quite visible. He was told he could use the car the church supplied him as long as he did nothing to it if something went wrong. "Just call," the missionary was instructed, "we will come and take care of the problem." Several days later, the car stalled and caught fire. The missionary called to report the difficulty. A mission committee member arrived to see the smoldering remains of the car on the shoulder of the road. "Why didn't you do something?" the committee member asked. "I did," the missionary replied, "I did exactly what you told me to do. I did nothing!"

If missionaries did what their sponsoring/supporting churches expected them to do on the mission field, what in fact, would be accomplished? In other words, are sponsoring/supporting churches expecting their missionaries to start churches that start churches that start churches?

Given the usual and routine results of mission efforts around the world, one is led to wonder!  

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