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September 2016

Mission Frontiers



Reading the Right Stuff


There are many mission-themed periodicals available for the church missions committee or interested mission-minded people to read and study. They range from serious academic journals to promotional newsletters representing mission agencies. Two publications come from the people who are associated with the U. S. Center for World Mission--now Frontier Ventures. Perhaps because Ralph Winter started both Frontier Ventures and Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship, we in PFF especially appreciate these publications and the frontier vision they champion.

One is titled, International Journal of Frontier Missiology, and is the more academic of the two periodicals. It is the journal representing the International Society of Frontier Missiology. In the current issue (January-March 2016), con

The other and more accessible missions journal is an official publication of Frontier Ventures and is titled, Mission Frontiers. The theme of the current issue (Sept-Oct 2106) is "Slaying the Dependency Dragon." In the lead article, author Rick Wood asserts, "many of our mission practices are creating dependency on the mission field and thereby killing existing Church-Planting Movements and preventing new ones from ever getting started." Wood draws a parallel between a child growing out of dependency into adulthood and individuals growing into maturity as followers of Jesus. He continues, "The sad reality of missions history is that we have often created dependency by staying too long and doing too much for people rather than equipping them to make disciples one generation after another . . " tributors explore "the use of history" in the discipline of missiology. In one article, Dwight Baker makes an eloquent plea for history to be valued as a robust dialogue partner with theology and anthropology in the inter-disciplinary arena of mission studies.

Other theme articles in this issue include: "Doing Good that is Good," a word from Bob Lupton that echoes the Hippocratic oath; a personal narrative by Glenn Schwarz titled, Dependency and Self-Reliance; a story about Kenya titled, A Recipe for Dependency; and a Ralph Winter article from the archives reminding us that "Good Intentions Are Not Always Good Enough."

Mission history tells us that dependency is not a new theme in mission work. Historical studies serve us by reminding us how mission thinkers handled issues in previous eras. For example, two prominent 19th century mission executives tackled the dependency issue together. The Englishman, Henry Venn, and the American, Rufus Anderson, used a distinctive phrase to describe a newly planted church as mature or indigenous when it is self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting. This three-self insight is now part of a larger vocabulary.

In an age where congregations often bypass agencies and denominations to forge their own mission partnerships, a careful understanding of dependency issues is a crucial learning step. This is issue of Mission Frontiers is must reading for your church's mission leadership team.


Richard L. Haney
Executive Director

If you'd like to subscribe to either of these journals, visit or