August 2019

Toward True Globalism in World Missions

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This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis and is published here with permission. To receive this free bimonthly publication from the Lausanne Movement, subscribe online at  The historical pattern of expansion in mission resourcing has not been a process of even progress from a single center. The 20th century marked a change in the flow of missionary personnel and financial resources from the Western world to the non-Western or majority world, and from the Global North to the Global South. What are the realities of this transition? How can we understand its nature? What does this change imply for future intercultural ministries? These are important questions to ask as we envision and strategise future ministries.

Southward turn

The main theme of the 1938 International Missionary Council (IMC) conference in Tambaram was the ‘Upbuilding of the younger churches as a part of the historic universal Christian community’. The 1938 IMC foresaw the future of world Christianity resting with the younger churches.[1]

Larry D. Pate’s book From Every People (1989) projected that by the year 2000, the majority of Protestant missionaries would be from the non-Western world, assuming the growth rate of the time continued.[2]His subsequent projection was that by 2000, there would be approximately 131,700 Western missionaries and 164,200 non-Western missionaries.[3]However, Michael Jaffarian, in an article in 2004, pointed out that Pate counted both domestic and foreign missionaries for the non-Western world, while only counting foreign missionaries for the Western world.[4] His analysis of the 2001 Operation World data suggested that there were still more Western Protestant missionaries than those from the non-Western world:

Jaffarian’s total count of non-Western missionaries reached 91,837—less than the 103,437 Western missionaries.[5]He also pointed out that the growth rate of non-Western Protestant missionaries was 210 percent for the period of 1990–2000, while the rate for Western missionaries was only 12 percent.[6]

My own observation is that Pate’s projection was not totally unsupported, even though he did not compare the same kind of missionaries. Pate focused on Protestant missionaries, whereas Jaffarian’s analysis showed the comparison including Roman Catholic missionaries. If we compare Protestant missionaries only, we could conclude that Pate’s projection was simply delayed in coming true. It could be that the number of non-Western Protestant missionaries outnumbered that of Western counterparts not by the year 2000, but by, say, 2010. To verify this hunch would demand solid empirical research.

Korean missionary movement

The missionary movement in Korea might not be a typical example of a majority world missions movement. Korea belongs to the non-Western world, but is also a part of the Global North, like a few other developed Asian countries. The categorisation can be different depending on whether the criterion is cultural or economic. What is important is that the Korean missionary movement provides an example of a former mission field turned into a sending base for missionaries.

93 Korean missionaries working in 26 countries through 21 mission agencies in 1979

21,220 Korean missionaries working in 159 countries through 159 mission agencies in 2017.

This shift may look dramatic on the outside, but it took a lot of time and energy inwardly. The Korean church commissioned its first cross-cultural missionary Ki Poong Lee (1868–1942) to Jeju Island in 1907. It commissioned its first missionaries to go abroad in 1912 when Tae Ro Park, Young Hoon Kim, and Byung Soon Sah, set off for Shandong, China. After Korea’s independence, the Korean church sent more missionaries to other countries:

According to Marlin L. Nelson’s pioneering research on Korean missionaries and mission agencies, there were 93 missionaries working in 26 countries through 21 mission agencies in 1979.[7]By the end of 2017, there were 21,220 Korean missionaries working in 159 countries through 159 mission agencies (Figure 1).[8]


The Korean church is now an important source of mission resourcing. The churches in Korea today spend more than USD 363 million a year to support their missionaries’ ministries, counting only the amount that has been channeled through mission agencies and not including direct expenditures.[9]

The Number of Korean missionaries (1979-2017)It was in 1832, when Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff (1803–1851) arrived in Korea for a short-term ministry as an itinerant, that Korea saw its first missionary. The first long-term missionaries Horace Grant Underwood (1859–1916) and Henry G. Appenzeller (1858–1902) did not arrive in Korea until 1885. Thus it did not take long before the Korean church began to send its own missionaries. However, it took almost 100 years for it to see a major missions movement catalysed to send multitudes of missionaries, with the start of the Mission Korea Student Convention in 1988.Korea is only one example of the missions movement in the majority world. There are now multiple streams of the global missions movement in many parts of the world.

Polycentric expansion

The pattern of expansion in Christian missions is not a process of even progress emanating from one permanent center, like that of Islamic expansion.[10] After a number of serial expansions, there are now multiple centers in Christian missions.[11]The dichotomy between Western world and majority world or Global North and Global South gives the impression of a dramatic or paradigmatic shift in mission resourcing. The reality, however, is much more complex than this simple description. Looking into the process of the changes enables a subtle understanding of the gradual and cumulative dynamics of change. There is much more continuity than the titles of Pate’s writings convey. The Western centers are still functioning as missionary-sending bases, although there are new centers expanding continually in the majority world.The global missions movement is expanding through polycentric multiplication in this ever-globalising world.[12] The question is no longer a binary one of Western or non-Western. The issue is how to harness the plurality of the streams of the global missionary movement.The Global South has as much or even more heterogeneity than the Global North. The cultural difference or distance between an Asian country and a Latin American country might be greater than those between an Asian country and a Western country. In this global age, categorising difference as a black and white dichotomy is no longer valid. The polycentric or pluralistic model is more realistic and applicable.

Missiological implications

We therefore need to pursue true globalism in doing theology and ministry, overcoming the dichotomic view of Western versus non-Western. There are many kinds of parochialism that we need to overcome. No localism should dominate the scene. We need to pursue a dynamic balance between the global and the local.


The art of leadership and competence in this diversifying world lies in how to handle differences.[13] These differences are a given reality in such a world; what is important is how to deal with them. A desirable attitude is to appreciate, celebrate, and maximise the benefits of the differences to make them positive dynamics for synergy. Ethnorelativism, rather than ethnocentrism, will provide a foundation for this kind of positive attitude toward differences. As we respect other perspectives, norms, and categories, we can creatively maximise the benefits of being different. Heterogeneity might be uncomfortable, but it is an important condition for a synergistic relationship.Incarnational ministry in this global age requires a deep commitment to a respectful mindset. It is not just a matter of strategy, but an essential quality of missional spirituality and leadership. True identification with people from other cultural backgrounds starts with recognising the different realities. True ecumenism honestly recognises and accepts the essential differences and learns to coexist with them.What might be the practical side of the missiological implications? I would propose three ‘I’s:

Interacting with other localities. A true practice of missional globalism would emphasise more efforts to cross cultures and traditions and work together.Integrating diverse localism into a globalism. We need to prioritise a willingness to accept one another and learn to form common ground overcoming differences.Standing in between the global and local in doing theology and ministry. We need to build up cross-cultural competence to think and work in and above culture.

To be more concrete, we need to invite others from different cultural backgrounds more. If necessary, we need to lower our expectations of proficiency in communicating. We should ask more questions instead of positing ready-made arguments. An emic category in a culture or language may not exist or be relevant in another culture or language. Asking questions instead of assuming common ground is cross-cultural wisdom.


Also, we should listen more carefully. Before embarking on a discussion or consensus building, we need to pay attention to what others have to say. Sometimes what others are saying between the lines is very important. Inviting, asking, and listening are basic yet significant practices comprising a global mindset.I have greatly benefited from inviting mission leaders from other cultural backgrounds into our programs. It has been an important part of God’s blessing on my pilgrimage. More recently, I have gratefully enjoyed various invitations from other corners of the world to write (as with this article), speak or share, give feedback, brainstorm together, or sometimes just to chat. Overall, I have benefited more from the friendship and companionship than I have contributed to it.Let us invite people from the other side of the world into our fellowship and meeting; let us ask them to give us their feedback, share their thoughts and feelings, and participate in dialogue towards our common agenda; and let us listen to them more carefully to build mutual understanding and opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.

Endnotes Dana L. Robert, ‘Shifting Southward: Global Christianity Since 1945’, International Bulletin of Missionary ResearchVol. 24, No. 2 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 2000), 57. Larry D. Pate, From Every People: A Handbook of Two-Thirds World Missions with Directory/Histories/Analysis(Monrovia: MARC, 1989). Larry D. Pate, ‘The Changing Balance in Global Mission’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 19, No. 2 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 1991), 59. Michael Jaffarian, ‘Are There More Non-Western Missionaries than Western Missionaries?’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 28, No. 3 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 2004), 131. Ibid., 132. Ibid.; Enoch Wan, Michael Pocock eds. Missions from the Majority World: Progress, Challenges, and Case Studies. E-Book (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), Loc 168. Marlin L. Nelson, Directory of Korean Missionaries and Mission Societies (Seoul: Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission, 1979), 43. Steve Sang-Cheol Moon, ‘Missions from Korea 2018: Mission Education’, International Bulletin of Mission Research Vol. 42, No. 2 (OMSC & SAGE, 2018), 171. Steve Sang-Cheol Moon, ‘Missions from Korea 2013: Microtrends and Finance’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 37, No. 2 (New Haven: OMSC, 2013), 96-97. Andrew F. Walls, The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission and Appropriation of Faith (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2005), 13. Ibid., 13, 45. Editor’s Note: See article by Allen Yeh, entitled, ‘The Future of Mission is from Everywhere to Everywhere’, in January 2018 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis’s Note: See article by Ben Thomas, entitled, ‘How Can We Finally Reach the Unreached?’, in March 2018 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis

A Tribute to Reverend Gerald Clark

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The Revd Gerald Clark, a former CMS missionary and then Council member, died on July 8, 2019. His missionary service and leadership role in NZCMS is acknowledged with gratitude to God in this tribute to the blessing he has been to this Society. In 1958 the Dominion Monarch took over a month to convey Gerald Clark, his wife Noeline, and their infant son Paul to Capetown. The young family then waited ten days for another, much smaller, cargo ship to take them up the Eastern coast of Africa to Dar es Salaam, then the capital of Tanganyika, now modern day Tanzania. There they took a train for an overnight journey to their new home, Dodoma, to begin their service overseas as CMS missionaries. Gerald’s missionary interest began at a young age, attending the very first CMS Spring School in Christchurch in 1948 while still at High School. Gerald became a key figure in the early formation of the newly formed CMS League of Youth, assisting in running youth rallies and camps. It was during this time, in the early 1950s, that he and his soon to be wife, Noeline, began to discern the increasing sense of call from God for overseas mission service. On a Sunday evening during a missionary service at St Martin’s Church, Maxwell Wiggins, Dean of Dodoma Cathedral, preached. During this sermon Maxwell read a letter from the Tanzanian Government approving the doubling in size of the Alliance School in Dodoma. This meant that they would need more teachers. Both Gerald and Noeline felt the call of God in this opportunity. In 1957, they met with the General Secretary of NZCMS, the Reverend Harry Thomson, who organized an interview with Bishop Alfred Stanway of Central Tanzania. It was soon decided they would be suitable to join the staff of the Alliance School and their application to NZCMS was accepted.The Alliance Secondary School where Gerald would be teaching was situated in Kikuyu, a village about three kilometers out of Dodoma. Gerald was given classes to teach but found that he was surplus to teaching needs for the first six months until an additional stream of students increased the roll at the beginning of 1959. However, the only ordained man on staff was due to leave and there was no one to replace him. Gerald was encouraged to fill this need and he was ordained and became the Chaplain of the school. Though originally with no formal training in theological, he undertook study towards the New Zealand LTh each year, completing the qualification in 1967.In mid 1961, Gerald was asked to be the headmaster of a new boys’ secondary boarding school to be opened in the extreme West of Tanzania at Kigoma. He was given the privilege of naming the new school and chose “Livingstone College” as, in the previous century, HM Stanley had found the missing David Livingstone only 10km away at Ujiji on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone College was the first secondary school in the Western Region of the country. In 1962 the Clarks returned to New Zealand and spent most of 1963 undertaking further study and deputation work. Gerald recruited two other New Zealand teachers to join him. As the school in Kigoma continued to grow the staff took on a very international flavour, with teachers from Australia, Britain, USA, Sweden as well as from New Zealand and Tanzania. By 1966 the school had grown from seventy pupils and two staff in its first year to 280 pupils, with two classes of 35 in each of the four years, and twelve staff members. Educational difficulties for their growing family together with government requirements in 1967 that every school must be run by an African headmaster lead to the Clarks finishing their time in Tanzania.After a brief time handing over to his successor, Gerald and his family travelled to England and lived in Canterbury, Kent, for two years where Gerald did a research degree in History and taught in the local secondary schools while Noeline nursed at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. In 1969 they returned to New Zealand on the Southern Cross.Following their return to New Zealand, Gerald was elected as a governing council member where he served for two full decades over the 1970-80s. He was later elected as Vice Chairman of the NZCMS Council.