Subtitle: The Mission Field as field. . . and forest and river and mountain and topsoil
by Lowell Bliss, guest contributor
Ed has asked me to re-post this article from a recent issue of our Environmental Missions Prayer Digest, in particular as a means to discuss one way in which
creation care can affect how the Church goes about doing missions: evangelism, discipleship, and church-planting. “Go and make disciples of ta ethne, all nations,” the Great Commission says. Even the Greek renderings of the words indicate that making disciples occurs among ethnic groups, or people groups. Political nations may grant missionaries their passports and entry visas, but ministry occurs among smaller cultural and linguistic communities. But what about ministry in something we would define as ecoregions? To what extent should the local biosphere inform how we preach the Gospel to a particular people group?
A 1982 Lausanne Committee meeting in Chicago offered the following definition of a people group: “A significantly large ethnic or sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity for one another. For evangelistic purposes, it is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.” A creation care perspective looks at this definition from a number of assumptions. One is that these “individuals” are homo sapiens, and thus not disembodied souls floating in a simple construct of culture and language. People live, and they live somewhere. That physical “somewhere” means something; it creates a valid “common affinity for one another.” It also greatly affects how one hears and interacts with the Gospel.