Church historian Everett Ferguson has observed that practices often precede theology. People change their religious practices, then come up with a theological justification for it. He says that infant baptism is an example of that.
In a discussion about those teachings that brook no compromise, I mentioned that our practices are changing in the church in regards to missions. It is not now an issue, but, if this tendency continues, we’ll see new explanations arise as to what our biblical mission is.
There seem to be at least two influences that are changing our practice, which will be instrumental to a changed definition in mission.
One, influence from the world pushes us to accept others as they are, to admit that God will take everyone on their own merits. Progressives are already going this way.
Two, churches, even conservative ones, are massively investing in benevolent works, including emergency aid and disaster relief, while classifying them as missions. This new practice is going to shift how churches redefine what missions is.
It’s going to be a killer and American missions observers say this direction is already having a repercussion in the support that is being given to proclamation-oriented efforts. With the redefintion, it will completey remake the identity of churches of Christ.