A NEW PARADIGM EMERGES
The convergence of various factors within the evangelical Christian community created a ripe environment for the development of the nonresidential missionary (NRM) paradigm. Aware of and influenced by all these events taking place, leaders at the Foreign Mission Board (FMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), earnestly desiring to have a truly global strategy, deployed the first NRM in 1987. The NRM concept was the brainchild of David Barrett, who in 1985, contracted with the Board to base his World Evangelization Research Center at its headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Although Barrett conceived the idea of a nonresidential missionary approach to the world’s unreached peoples, he did not have the resources needed to implement this novel missionary concept. However, the partnership between Barrett and the FMB created the fertile environment that allowed this innovative paradigm to emerge. Baldridge explains this reciprocal relationship:
Parks had in Barrett the new practical concept and the database, and in the FMB the financial and human resources necessary for a massive shift toward the most neglected peoples on earth. Most important of all, Parks championed the strategy that would open the doors through which many Great Commission people could walk.1
In Parks, Barrett found the benefactor he needed to execute this paradigm. Yet, at the same time, Parks and Barrett needed to call upon the services and expertise of other key leaders to successfully implement this paradigm and shepherd it from a fledgling concept towards maturity. Winston Crawley, Lewis Myers, David Garrison and Bill Smith were some of those key individuals. This chapter will explore further the development of the Board’s global strategy under Parks’ leadership, a strategy that ultimately led to the birth of the NRM paradigm. The unique contributions of these key leaders at the Board also warrant exploration. Finally, this chapter will focus on the initial progress of this paradigm as it was developing as well as the impact of the paradigm on the mission efforts of the Board.
Cultivating New Approaches
Tilling the Soil for Change
From the beginning of his leadership at the Board, Parks challenged Southern Baptists to have a futuristic look regarding the global task facing them in the final quarter of the twentieth century and beyond. As already pointed out, the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Bold New Thrusts provided the stimulus for Parks’ challenge to develop a genuine global strategy. Parks’ visionary leadership and his consuming passion for reaching the entire world with the gospel message provided a dynamic environment out of which new missiological paradigms could emerge.
During his initial year at the helm of the FMB, Parks provided a thought-provoking picture of the future of missions; a picture that implied the direction his leadership would guide the Board. Although the exact outcome arising from Parks’ leadership was yet unclear, he was explicit in challenging Southern Baptists to embrace change in their mission efforts. In October 1980, Parks wrote:
I expect there will be:
Dependence on missionaries
Confusion and ambiguity
Frustration and waste
Each pair of words or phrases represents two sides of one concept. Each expression bulges with meaning and implication. The inevitability of these changes is certain. Our options are simple:
We can ignore the onrushing tide and be engulfed.
We can resist it and be shattered.
We can initiate some change and adapt to others and be blessed and a blessing.
May we have courage and clarity of vision as we keep the world in view.2
At the June 1980 Board meeting, the trustees elected Crawley as the Vice-President for Planning,3 a role that would thrust Crawley into a key strategic position regarding the formulation and communication of the Board’s global strategy. During the next few years, Parks and Crawley would continually articulate the components of this comprehensive global strategy through their regular articles in The Commission and in their various reports to the Board.4 Crawley’s magnum opus would be his 1985 book Global Mission A Story to Tell in which he extensively elucidated the global strategy vision of the FMB under Parks’ leadership. Parks’ tour de force would be his 1987 publication World in View in which he consolidated much of what he had written through his articles in The Commission and articulated his vision of leading Southern Baptists to fulfill their commitment to reach every person on earth to hear the gospel by the end of the century.
Change in the board’s mission strategy was a major emphasis of Parks during the early years of his leadership. By creating a climate calling for change, Parks was laying the groundwork for the emergence of the NRM paradigm. For Parks, the historical setting of the latter twentieth century made change inevitable:
Many good things are happening in Bold Mission Thrust; however, in foreign missions it seems that the time has come for igniting new spiritual rockets to thrust us out into a different orbit. Circumstances demand this….What a time in history! We should be trembling with excitement over the potential of the era we have entered. We must not pause to enshrine the accomplishments of our past, or we will never claim our future. Nor can we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the present. We must risk, in faith, to achieve what God has laid before us. The time has come for us to move into the future of world missions with daring and boldness lest by failing to adapt we become a spiritual dinosaur in the religious museums of tomorrow.5
Throughout this process of developing a global strategy, one primary theme that continually surfaced from FMB leadership was the need to include a strategy component that would focus on the people groups untouched by the gospel message. As noted in chapter 1, the influences of the Lausanne Movement and Ralph Winter contributed to the FMB leadership’s recognition of the need to include such an emphasis if it was serious about fulfilling the Convention’s Bold New Thrusts in Foreign Missions.
As early as 1981, Crawley introduced the concept of “hidden peoples” to Southern Baptists in The Commission when he wrote, “The term ‘hidden’ identifies any people still without any churches of their own, and unable to evangelize their own group.”6 A year later, during a panel presentation with the Board of Trustees, Crawley raised once again the need to include in the Board’s strategy an emphasis on “major blocks of mankind that are relatively untouched by the gospel.”7 Several months later, Crawley presented as one of the strategy concerns needing the attention of the FMB “a focus of effort on unreached people groups and perhaps especially on those with the least contact with the gospel.”8 The next month, Charles W. Bryan, Senior Vice-President for Overseas Operations, reported to the Board that a key concept in the development of the Board’s strategy would necessitate prioritizing the need to expand outreach to new people groups and penetrating countries closed to traditional missionary presence. 9 Several months later, Bryan would once again present a challenge to the Board to “expand witness to unreached peoples of ethnic or cultural groups.”
Throughout this process of infusing the FMB with an awareness of unreached people groups and the need to include a people group approach within its broader global strategy, leaders at the Board were not seeking to shift entirely away from a geopolitical approach regarding missionary deployment.11 Because of the Board’s historical relationship with Baptist entities in countries where its missionaries served, FMB leadership believed it could not forego a country approach; however, within this geopolitical framework for planning the Board would now add a new emphasis on people groups.12 Board leaders wanted to be sensitive to its various Baptist partners around the world. Crawley succinctly expressed this sensitivity, stating, “Thus in planning, both in the Foreign Mission Board offices and on the fields, concern for people groups is expressed within the context of concern for partnership.”13
A second theme that continually emerged was the need to focus on countries closed to traditional missionary presence. In a presentation to the Board of Trustees in 1982, Crawley explicitly stated that one of the major strategic concerns was reaching into countries sealed off from traditional missionary presence. 14 In his regular articles in The Commission, Crawley also addressed this concern. 15 According to Bryan, prioritizing within the Board’s strategy would require looking at how the Board could access these closed countries.16
All this talk of concerns, priorities and challenges confronting the Board as it faced a changing world in the latter part of the twentieth century culminated with the “Strategic Priorities for the Foreign Mission Board 1985-1988,” presented by Parks to the trustees in February 1985.17 This report explicitly stated that Parks and FMB leadership were now ready to launch new missiological paradigms in response to this rapidly changing world. One of the strategic priorities presented was to “develop coordination and evaluation of current involvement in lands where missionary residence and/or activities are restricted and identify ways of strengthening these approaches and experimenting with new approaches.”18 At that time, it was not clear what new approaches the FMB leadership had in mind.
It was obvious in the strategic priorities that the FMB had not yet moved beyond a geopolitical framework regarding its strategic planning. However, although the new strategy did not explicitly mention unreached people groups or the NRM concept, Parks and FMB leadership had perspicaciously tilled the strategic soil out of which the NRM paradigm would spring forth.
Planting the First Seed of Change
Parks and FMB leadership took the first step in the development of a new missiological paradigm by recommending in April 1985 the formation of Cooperative Services International (CSI).19 The Board established CSI primarily to respond to needs in China where traditional missionary presence was no longer an option.20 At the same time, the Board expanded the new office’s mandate to include other closed or restricted countries where traditional missionary presence was not feasible.21
The formation of CSI as the arm of the FMB responsible for mission efforts in so-called closed countries was the culmination of a strategic process initiated as early as 1980. Chapter 1 revealed how Ted Ward challenged the Board to seek ways for penetrating countries closed or antagonistic to Christian missionaries.22 In May 1983, the Office of Overseas Operations unveiled a ministry plan for countries where, at that time, the Board could not deploy missionary personnel.23 A few months later, Parks and FMB staff convened a dialogue with trustees regarding the need for the creation of a separate legal entity that would allow personnel to penetrate countries resistant to missionaries and mission organizations.24
For Parks, it was critical to shape “change rather than allowing change to shape the Foreign Mission Board.”25 Thus, Parks viewed the formation of CSI as a vital step in the Board’s plans to shape change or reshape foreign missions for Southern Baptists.26 It would be more than a year later before the emergence of the NRM role within the FMB; nonetheless, the course had been set and the groundwork laid. As Parks noted:
Changes are coming more rapidly than ever before. Pressures are stronger from more directions than they have ever been. In order to function appropriately, all of us must take the time and expend the effort to have a thorough understanding of foreign missions as it now is and as it ought to be….The awesomeness of our task is seen in the fact that the decisions recommended by staff and determined by this board will affect the eternal destiny of souls around the world. It is a sobering responsibility.27
For Parks, the global emphasis of the FMB necessitated planting three seeds of change into its strategy. The first seed of change was the formation of CSI, thrusting the Board into a new arena of mission activity – countries closed to traditional missionary presence. The other seeds of change were on the horizon.
Planting the Second Seed of Change
With the signing of a three-year contract with David Barrett in 1985, the FMB began planting another seed that would produce significant shifts in Southern Baptist mission strategy. Before the signing of this contract, Barrett had been cooperating with the FMB in the area of researching the world’s cities.28 Barrett also had already published his World Christian Encyclopedia and was a prominent, yet at times controversial, researcher within the Christian world.29 Bringing Barrett into the inner sanctum of the FMB confirmed that he had convincingly demonstrated to Parks how comprehensive demographic research could serve as part of the solid foundation needed to build an effective global evangelization strategy.30
Barrett had decried the dearth of research among Christian mission agencies and denominations. According to Barrett, research was indispensable to the task of global evangelization, and mission efforts had often struggled because they lacked the vital information that research could provide.31 Further, Barrett pointed out to FMB leadership that, although the Board’s expenditure on research outpaced all other mission boards and agencies, its percentage of income spent on research was a paltry 0.2 percent.32 Barrett spoke and Parks listened, leading to the establishment of a global research department at the FMB in 1985.
Bringing Barrett to the FMB, according to Garrison, was “the trigger that changed everything.”33 The research generated by Barrett’s office brought to the attention of FMB leadership a significant gap in its global mission effort, a gap of over one billion people in the world neglected by the mission effort primarily because these people resided in countries where traditional missionary presence was not a viable option. 34 According to Hiebert, Barrett’s research would benefit mission agencies by providing “a better basis for planning a diversity of mission strategies that are responsive to the complex realities of the modern world.” 35 Undoubtedly, leadership at the Board believed Barrett’s research was beneficial and broadly depended upon it while formulating the Board’s global strategy.
Not only did Barrett’s research highlight the gaps in the board’s mission strategy, he also awakened FMB leadership to a world of Christian resources outside of Southern Baptist circles.36 Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia, according to Moffett, confirmed a global swell in the number of evangelicals throughout the world.37 Barrett’s figures stated that nearly 157 million out of 262 million Protestants in the world were evangelical.38 Further, Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia provided a directory of global Christian resources according to seventy-six different topics. 39 One of the most significant contributions of this research to the global mission enterprise was its portrayal of an ever-increasing missionary effort, not just from the Western churches, but also from the church around the world.40 Neill points out that Barrett’s research had revealed that by 1983 “the Christian church does exist in every country of the world with the possible exception of Tibet.”41
Barrett’s research did awaken Parks to the need for closer consultation and partnership with others. Initially, Parks called for Southern Baptists and the FMB to pursue partnership with like-minded Baptist entities around the world.42 However, as the Board developed and began to implement its global strategy, there was an increasing movement toward extending partnership to other Great Commission Christian (GCC) groups. The idea of networking with other GCC groups inevitably raised some concerns with some of the Board’s Southern Baptist constituency. Parks sought to quiet some of these concerns by stating that Southern Baptists would not be relinquishing any of their distinctive doctrinal beliefs, would not necessarily be endorsing fully the theological beliefs of other groups and would not be funding other mission agencies.43 At the same time, Parks stated that the parameters of networking with other GCC groups would involve the sharing of research data, sharing of information regarding opportunities, sharing of plans, sharing of best mission practices and sharing for the purpose of prayer mobilization.44 Functionally, this networking and partnership with other GCC groups and individuals served as an avenue for the FMB and its personnel to “avoid the problems of more formal ecumenical ties while advancing the cause of Christ around the world.”45
One product that flowed out from Barrett’s research and influence upon the FMB was the AD2000 Series of publications. This series of publications was one of the products of 1985 FMB-sponsored global evangelization meeting held in Ridgecrest, North Carolina.46 The first book in this series was Barrett’s World-Class Cities and World Evangelization, published in 1986.47 The AD2000 Series provided Barrett a much-needed platform for disseminating his ongoing research. Through the various publications, Barrett also was able to enunciate simple concepts by which Christians could begin to define the world around them. Barrett divided the world into three segments – World A, World B and World C. 48 Barrett had already developed a methodology for quantifying evangelization; however, there needed to be a simpler way of communicating the results of this research, a way that would capture the hearts and minds of Southern Baptists and other Great Commission Christians. Williard would later summarize the impact of these new classifications:
Although missiologists for years recognized the concept of an “unreached” or “unevangelized” world, it remained relatively undefined. Hard data was missing.
A model was missing. But perhaps most of all, a vision was missing that could bring the necessary resources together to identify it, enunciate it and act upon it.49
World C or the Christian world included the people groups and population segments where over 95 percent had heard the gospel in ways they could understand and respond and identified as having more than 60 percent church members.50 World B peoples had less than 60 percent church members, but more than half of them had heard the gospel in ways they could understand.51 World A comprised those people groups and population segments where less than 50 percent had never had opportunity to hear of Jesus Christ.52
The majority of unevangelized and unreached peoples resided in World A. World A, as defined by Barrett and his staff, included 3,030 unevangelized population segments – 2,000 people groups, 1000 metropolises, and 30 countries.53 The total population of these 3,030 unevangelized population segments was a staggering 1.3 billion or nearly 26 percent of the entire world population.54 O’Brien later pointed out that 85 percent of all the unreached peoples of World A lived in closed countries.55 Barrett joined Parks in calling for change in mission strategies, concluding, “Unless changes are made now in how we think and carry out world evangelization, we could see this decade slip by as well and be no closer to taking the gospel to the whole world.”56
Barrett’s research also vividly revealed the inequity of the distribution of Christian resources deployed by mission agencies and denominations. In 1988, Barrett and Reapsome, reporting the results of this research, indicated there were over 241,300 foreign missionaries deployed to World C, 20,000 deployed to World B, but only 1000 targeting the peoples in World A.57 Further, they reported that of all the money spent on Christian work each year, $130 billion was spent at home (World C) while only $1 billion was spent for work in World B and about $0.1 billion spent for work in World A.58 Their research also reported that less than 0.1 percent of all Christian literature and less than 0.01 percent of Christian radio and television was utilized for efforts in World A while an overwhelming 99 percent of all Christian literature and 99.9 percent of Christian mass media was in World C.59
Barrett’s research also confirmed the wisdom of the Board’s decision to form CSI in 1985 as his research revealed an alarming trend regarding the openness of countries to foreign missionary presence. According to Barrett:
Back in 1900, virtually every country was open to foreign missionaries of one tradition or another….Today, some 65 countries are closed to foreign missionaries of any kind, with three more closing their doors every year. If the trend continues, by the year 2000 we may well be faced with 120 closed countries.60
The startling realities about the world and the challenges presented by this collection of unevangelized and unreached people groups called World A captured the attention of Parks and Board leaders. For Parks, the information continually flowing to him from Barrett’s office and other places was challenging him to alter his view of reality. Parks, in turn, challenged the Board to revise its reality maps:
We’re daily bombarded with new information as to the nature of reality. If we are to incorporate this information we must continually revise our maps and sometimes when enough information is accumulated we must make very major revisions. Sometimes excruciatingly painful….What we do more often than not and usually unconsciously is to ignore the new information….Sadly such a person may expend more energy ultimately in defending an outmoded view of the world than would have been required to revise and correct it in the first place….
Therefore, I have to ask myself, our staff and this board if that’s where we are in transforming the vision of Bold Mission Thrust into reality. Have we tended to keep our maps of reality as they were in 1976…deluded ourselves as to believing that, in fact, we were on the road to accomplishing the overarching objective…to have our part in preaching the gospel to all of the people in the world by the year 2000.61
As he began to revise his map of reality, Parks believed the Board needed to consider altering the administrative structure of the Board and field entities, the deployment of missionary personnel, the use of its financial resources, and the relationship of the Board with other Baptist and Great Commission Christian groups.62 Two significant issues emerged from his thinking. First, Parks recognized the need for a “group charged with the development of global strategy on the staff level and the need for a ‘strategy room.’”63 Second, Parks realized a need to define unreached people groups and make decisions regarding the Board’s responsibility and role in evangelizing these unreached peoples.
LIST OF TABLES
1.1 Research Question
1.2 Rationale for Study
1.4 Research Methodology
1.5 Personal Statement
2. ANTECEDENTS AND INFLUENCES
2.2 The Milieu: Global Conferences on Global Evangelization
2.3 Three Key Men: Their Influence and Contribution
2.4 Innovations in Missions: Their Influence
3. A NEW PARADIGM EMERGES
3.2 Cultivating New Approaches
3.3 The New Seed Grows
3.4 The New Paradigm’s Impact
4. THE PARADIGM MATURES
4.2 From Provisional to Permanent
4.3 The Stroope Years: Expansion
4.4 The Stroope Years: Ethos
4.5 Postmodern Elements of the SC Paradigm
4.6 Points of Divergence from Bosch’s Postmodern Paradigm
4.7 Panta Ta Ethnē
5. FROM MAVERICK TO MAINSTREAM
5.2 Stroope’s Analysis and Suggestions
5.3 Launching New Directions
5.4 Significant Influences of the SC Paradigm in New Directions
6. A SECOND SHIFT: CHURCH-PLANTING MOVEMENTS
6.2 Church-Planting Movements
6.3 CPM and the SC Paradigm
7. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
7.1 Value of this Research
7.2 Suggested Additional Research Possibilities
7.3 The Final Word
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