“and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation,” Romans 15:20
I have desired to do pioneering mission work. As I am well into my 40's, I am wondering what that would look like. When I look at pioneer mission work it often is defined by those who attempt to carry it out. I see basically four different approaches that mission agencies attempt to do pioneer mission work. These are broad descriptions that are often combined or changed by those have variation in theme.
Church Planting - Church planting is defined by some when you have a self-supporting congregation in the target culture, nation or people group. The U.S. Center for World Missions takes this approach, as does New Tribes Missions.
Bible Translation – A Bible being translated into every language is the strategy. For years I prayed that the Southern Pocomam people would receive the Word of God. This approach assumes power in the scriptures and that God will use them for his kingdom.
Mercy Ministry – Those who endeavor to carry out mercy ministry seek to extend the message of love in a practical way so that the gospel can be received by the target people. Compassion and World Vision are two ministry endeavoring to communicate the gospel by meeting people's needs.
Media Ministry – Satellite TV, the Bible on tape and shortwave radio is use to make culturally relevant materials with a biblical message. The idea is that media can reach places that individuals can not go. People can explore faith in privacy and ponder their first steps into know who Jesus is.
I would like to do all of these. Of course I can not do them all. But looking at these, it could be argued that Paul's message is not that he desired to plant a church but preach. Of course a church would follow, but his main strategy was to preach. I'm not sure I see a mission effort which sees its first priority as to preach. Perhaps if we discussed Romans 15:20 with missionaries from each of the above organizations they would agree that preaching is primary.