ISSUES:FUTURE:MISSIONS AND THE YEAR 2000
From: Jay Gary <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It is the end of the century, the end of slide rules, the end of typewriters, the end of black & white TVs...And mission leaders tell us A.D. 2000 is the end of frontier missions.
Contrast this, if you will, with the fact that in corporate boards from New York to Nairobi, the end of the century has come and gone. Rather than 2000, they now plan for 2005, 2010 or 2020.
..In launching a recent campaign to reach millennial goals, AD 2000 leader Luis Bush claimed the "only hope" for pioneer church planting by 2000 has come down to "a miraculous, supernatural intervention in response to prayer." ...
DID WE MISS THE MID-DECADE CHECK-UP?
This past May the AD 2000 Movement convened the GCOWE '95 meeting in South Korea as a "mid-decade check-up." While reports coming from GCOWE '95 heralded encouraging trends in third world missions and national initiatives, few reports dealt with the diminishing chances to reach the milestone of "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000."
Within a month of GCOWE '95, a "Beyond 2000" email forum was formed to correct this oversight, and ask the tough questions which some mission leaders seem to be avoiding, such as, "How can we: * measure whether the world is reached by 2000?"
* project the work that is undone into the next century?"
* steward the millennial symbols with credibility?"
In these electronic discussions, now sponsored by the International Society for Frontier Missions, participants agreed the double goal of the AD 2000 movement is "not impossible," but its probability of completion is hovering at "5% or less." Given these slim chances, many leaders are now turning their attention to what lies beyond 2000.Over the past five years, David Barrett's bimonthly trend letter has documented many new efforts among the least-evangelized. With its 41st issue in August, however, Barrett's periodical changed its name from "AD 2000" to "AD 2025 Global Monitor." Barrett now feels "AD 2000 is too close for goals related to comprehensive evangelization of the unreached." He projects a likely future scenario of one billion unevangelized in A.D. 2000, gradually falling to 600 million in A.D. 2025.>From a demographic perspective the year 2025 makes sense. The new projected date is a generation of 30 years into the future and consistent with the United Nations Demographic Database, upon which all population projections for countries, peoples, cities and provinces are made.
Are we past the time for world missions to consider the millennium as a finish line for frontier missions? Has the time come to drop A.D. 2000 as an event horizon for frontier missions? If we did, where would that leave "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000?"
THE CAPSTONE OF FRONTIER MISSIONS
The focus on millennial milestones in missions can be traced back to the 1979 inception of the watchword: "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000." As the story goes, Ralph Winter, director of the U.S. Center for World Mission, led his staff to coin the evangelical phrase.This was the first time anyone had linked the year 2000 with the unfinished task. Back then, as Winter admits, anything seemed possible over the course of twenty years. Shortly after that Winter convened Edinburgh '80, a world consultation to throw the spotlight on his watchword.Surprisingly so, the millennial catchword came to focus a great deal of mission thinking. So much so, many have believed that this was a word from God that He had promised to watch over to completion (cf. Jeremiah 1:9-12).Recently, however, people have been having second thoughts about the time target appended to the watchword. Could mission leaders be setting themselves up a for collapse of credibility if they reach 2000 and have not attained "A Church for Every People"? Just how close is "A Church for Every People" wedded to "the Year 2000?"
In 1989, the conveners of GCOWE 2000 were concerned that the time target of 2000 might be taken as a prophetic date, rather than a planning date. In order to diffuse the inevitable apocalyptic tension, they modified the watchword to read "by AD 2000 & Beyond."
Was this modification of the watchword a harbinger of things to come? Is there a "Beyond 2000" to frontier missions? Will we eventually see the year 2000 as a stepping stone in world evangelization, rather than a capstone?A TEAM FOR EVERY PEOPLE
Few leaders have stepped forward with answers to these questions, but it appears since GCOWE '95 that AD2000 leaders have modulated their tone. Instead of promising a full-blown church-planting movement among every remaining unreached people by the 2000, they now seem to be talking about "minimal" or down scaled goals for 2000.
Rather than "A Church for Every People," people are describing these goals in terms like "A Prayer for Every People" or "A Team for Every People" by the year 2000.One example of this approach is the recent roll-out by AD 2000 of their "Joshua Project 2000" plan. This new "Adopt-A-People" scheme, reaching full zenith by October 1997, calls for some 2,000 lay teams to conduct on-site research and prayer walks among the 2,000 remaining unreached peoples. A prayer and a team for every people figure highly in these plans.
While "A Church for Every People" is eventually envisioned, AD 2000 leaders appear to be coming to grips with the limits of a 5-year time target. In a post-GCOWE '95 interview, Patrick Johnstone said, "[It is] our part to have laborers actually working at discipling every significant people before 2001 it is the Holy Spirit's part to give the increase and breakthroughs." Johnstone went on to note that many of their WEC "teams have been working for 20 years in hard areas before the breakthrough came."If Johnstone's view reflects current evangelical sentiments, it would appear that the church needs to affirm both starting strategic work among the unreached "by the year 2000" and realize that this work might not bear its fruit until long "beyond 2000."WATCH OVER THE WATCHWORD
As bullish as Republican leaders are today in the U.S. Congress, they realize some things just won't get done by the year 2000. They talk about balancing the budget by 2002, not by 2000. And even that is not guaranteed. It appears the millennial year will not bear the cumulated weight of all the world's unfinished agendas.In placing a 2002 event horizon beyond 2000, these legislators are not casting aside fiscal responsibility. They realize unless we keep on track by 2000, there won't be a balanced budget beyond. The same might well be said of the importance of 2000 to world missions.
What does this mean for the watchword of "A Church for Every People"? Will this rally cry have a future beyond 2000?
Practically everyone admits the year 2000 is and will remain until its sunset come 2001, the largest symbol of the future in our lifetimes. No future year beyond 2000 could even come close in its millennial pull or magnet appeal.Mission leaders are now asking, "Will there be a successor to the year 2000, or will it be the last global milestone for world evangelization? Is there way to maintain a time target focus for missions into the 21st century?
THE ANNIVERSARY ATTRACTION
Clearly, the year 2000 is the "mother of all milestones." The reason being is that it derives its primary symbolism from Christ, as the 2,000th anniversary of His Incarnation.It is also a calendrical demarcation, as December 31, 2000 signals the close of the second Christian millennium. Ironically, given the immensity of the unfinished task, the closer we get to A.D. 2000, the less likely it will be a milestone, and more likely it will be a stepping stone in world evangelization. Rather than the tape at the finish line, the real significance of Anno Domini 2000 might well be its power to remind us of the treasure of Christ.If it were time to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of Aristotle, or 100th birthday of Einstein, we would likely reflect on the impact that philosophy or physics has had on our lives. Now at the year 2000, we are at a unique position to weigh the life, legacy and lordship of Jesus Christ.
It will be appropriate for anyone, not just Christians to ask, "What is unique and universal about the life of Jesus?" and "Why have the ethics of this poor man from Nazareth so deeply affected the cultures who followed him over the past twenty centuries?"Just as Columbus was the historical figure to deal with during the 1992 quincentennial, so Christ will be the pivotal person from 1999 to 2001. We must not let the world miss the "reason for the season."Rather than a milestone, A.D. 2000 will likely soon be seen as a memorial unto Christ, in light of His 2,000th anniversary.In preparation for this anniversary season until 2001, the AD 2000 United Prayer Track, led by C. Peter Wagner, has announced a "Jerusalem 2000 Celebration" next February.There are also signs among Catholics and mainline Protestants which indicate we are about to enter the 2,000th anniversary season of Christ. The church seems be reaching for the true star of A.D. 2000 _the person of Christ.Given the Christo-centric and commemorative nature of A.D. 2000, it is likely from '96 to '01, our "tribute 2000" offerings will increase to overshadow any "target 2000" calculations.If we adopt this "tribute 2000" call, as a biblical invitation to the nations, this could lay the basis for a greater focus on fulfilling the Great Commission into the next century.
A BIMILLENNIAL PERSPECTIVE
Beyond 2000, how will the church think about its mission at the dawn of the third millennium? This past year, DAWN leader Jim Montgomery went on record declaring in the case of saturation church planting movements, the year 2000 should be seen a beginning, rather than an end.More leaders are echoing Montgomery's conclusion--the task of frontier missions will not reach closure by 2000. Rather than the end of frontier missions, it will likely be seen as a beginning.But given the intensity of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ, it is likely that AD 2000 strategic thinking could eventually focus on the year 2033, the 2,000th anniversary of Calvary, the Resurrection, and the giving of the Great Commission of Our Lord.Other intermediate years could also serve as mission milestones, such as 2010--the centennial of Edinburgh; 2017--the quincentennial of the Reformation; or 2025-- the quarter century mark.Clearly A.D. 2033, the second bimillennial of Christ, will carry immense symbolic importance for the mission of the church. In addition to the bimillennial of the Passion of Our Lord, it will also be the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the church.
As obvious as this bimillennial perspective is, some fear this long-term "beyond 2000" vision might undercut our more short term "by the year 2000" immediate efforts. This need not be the case, if we build with wisdom as master-builders.A HOUSE OF WORSHIP
In my book, _The Star of 2000_, I trace the history of how we have approached the year 2000. Society has been constructing this bimillennial paradigm for some 30 years.
Frontier missions itself has been building on A.D. 2000 for half that time. It is not the time now to abandon the year 2000. Instead, we should make the bimillennium all the more meaningful to church and world history.As Christ's parable of the Great Banquet tells us, God wants his house full. "A Church for Every People" calls us to establish a house of worship among every people. And "by the year 2000" means that God is preparing a great banquet at the dawn of the third millennium to honor his Son.It is time to tell the nations, "Come to the mountaintop, for everything is now ready. The feast is ready to begin. Bring your gifts and tributes to the one and only Son."The call to honor Christ during His coming 2,000th anniversary is not a call to singularly celebrate 2,000 years of church growth, history, or doctrine. Neither should it be confused with efforts to link 2000 to the return of Christ. The watchword reminds us that the nations must be invited to bring a distinct tribute to Christ's anniversary banquet.If in the providence of God we maintain momentum through the turn of the millennium, we might live to see "A Church for Every People" fulfilled by 2033, the 2,000th anniversary of Calvary.It's time to build onto the frontier missions foundation for the third millennium. This third temple will require both old and new treasures, both "by the year 2000" and "beyond 2000" offerings. If we do our work well, this house of worship could well become in the 21st century what Paul saw frontier missions becoming in the 1st century, a universal cathedral of praise for all peoples (Ephesians 2:21). Copyright 1995 by Jay Gary.JAY GARY, lives in Colorado Springs under the "purple mountain majesty" of Pikes Peak. He is host of the "Talk 2000" forum on the Internet (email@example.com) and author of _The Star of 2000_ (Bimillennial Press, 1994).FROM THE EDITOR:
A few people have written responses to the article posted on this conference on Sept 26, written by Jay Gary, which reasoned that world evangelization could not be completed by the year 2000 and exhorted us to look beyond 2000. All of the resonses received were generally positive about the thesis of the article although there were some concerns experessed that it was presented in an unnecessarily inflamatory way.The article is copyrighted, and I apologize for breaching the copyright by editing it. Please ask Jay for the original article if you want to distribute it.Following is the most significant response received:
From: Michael Fen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Overall, I think Jay Gary is right on target in calling us to acknowledge the unlikeliness of "A Church for Every People" being fulfilled by the year 2000. I also appreciate his willingness to build on the momentum of that movement (rather than just trashing it) and his vision to use the symbolism of the millenium as an evangelistic opportunity.
I believe it is also important to honor Dr. Winter and others in the AD 2000 Movement for the srtategic vision demonstrated by "A Church For Every People". It was never intended to be a prophetic prediction of Great Commission fulfillment and Christ's return, but rather a clarion call for the church to get moving. Whether or not the goal is reached by the end of this century, that call has obviously been "blessed" when we consider how God has used it to radically change the missionary focus of His people around the world. In the last 20 years, just about everybody has begun talking about "reaching the unreached" and "finishing the task". "A Church For Every People" has also served to confront the Church with the reality that it has the resources to finish the task now. The question remains: Do we have the faith and the will?
At the risk of betraying my eschatalogical bias, let us also remember that Jesus can and will come back any time he wants to, regardless of whether or not our missiological goals are realized. Today could be the day!We would be wise to heed Gary's call to use the year 2000 as an opportunity to call the world to especially focus on Christ. My only reservation is the potential for reinforcing "nominal Christianity" around the globe. We should never be satisfied with a world that celebrates Jesus as a merely a "virtuous leader" or a "great teacher," or even as "Savior of the world," unless that celebration is evidenced by true repentance and faith in Him, and the establishment of His Church among every people. If we encourage, even unintentionally, people to simply pay their respects (as opposed to worshiping Him in spirit and truth) to Him and then go on living their same old lives (whether as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Secularists or so-called 'Christians'), we may succeed in advancing Christendom while at the same time hurting the cause of Christ. And we would stand in line with the Pharisees of whom Jesus said in Matt. 23:15: "You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are."That said, I say, "God bless Jay Gary--and all of us who will call the world to gaze upon (and believe in) the Star of 2000."
ISSUES: FUTURE: GENERATION 2001
The following are highlights of a Northwestern Mutual Life study, "Generation 2001: A Survey of the First Graduating Class of the New Millennium" [This can give us insight into the next generation of youth coming up past Generation X. However, as these kids are currently around 14 years old, I wonder how much of their opinions expressed in the following survey may be shaped more by what they've heard other adults say than by serious contemplation on their own part. ~N.W.] More information on the Generation 2001 survey can be found at www.Northwesternmutual.com/2001.
From: Brian Burchell <BKBurchell@aol.com>
I found little value in the Gen 2001 predictions. First, I find it hard to believe that 14-year olds have any opinions about these questions. My guess is that they're consumed with things like sports, Nintendo and trying to fit in among friends. Therefore, I find the conclusions to be mere conjecture. Second, Gen X research has its place in our thinking but I believe we can take it too far if we soften our mobilization to accommodate [what we may perceive as] an emotionally fragile generation (I realize this tendency wasn't mentioned in the email, but I know that it's a common temptation). I think that Teen Mania seeks to appeal to Gen X's passion for adventure while linking this to eternal purpose. This approach makes sense to me. It seems that many respond to this appeal, for it's an innate craving common to humanity. If our recruits need emotional strengthening/counseling, I believe they should receive it as a means toward healthy contribution to the Kingdom of God.