Why the Era of American Missionaries Is Coming to an End

(Unsplash/Erwan Hesry)

This week I had the remarkable opportunity to speak at a global conference of pastors and marketplace leaders in the amazing United Arab Emirates city of Dubai. In the conference were pastors who individually oversee hundreds of churches and collectively oversee thousands of churches in some of the most difficult and challenging places Christians can operate.

One thing I discovered was that they were hungry for information about using the media to share the gospel. They understand—even in remote places in Siberia, rural Africa or the Pacific Islands, that we all live in a media-driven culture now, and using the media to engage with their communities is more important than ever.

The truth is, if I could find the funding, I would focus more of my time on teaching media internationally. These leaders are making a remarkable impact in the most difficult places, and were energized when I shared simple, basic techniques and principles for social media, websites and video. As I told the attendees, it's time we stopped thinking about "missions" only in terms of geographical boundaries and started thinking about missions in terms of digital boundaries as well.

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But something else I learned is that for the most part, the age of the Western missionary is over. The truth is, we really don't need more Americans moving to Asia, Africa, Russia or other places because right now local leaders are raising up a generation of young pastors that are planting churches in remarkable numbers. Historically, past missionaries from the West did their job, and now the baton has been handed to these local leaders.

However, they still need our financial support, expertise in select areas and strategy. In some countries it may be to help finance a church building, in others, build a school or medical clinic; in still others, it may be a motorcycle to help a church planter make his rounds. They also need strategies, as I mentioned, in communications, media and other specialized areas. They have picked up the challenge and are making a difference, but they need our prayers, professional expertise and financial support more than ever.

I can tell you that after a week with these global leaders, the world is changing, and in spite of all the negative stories you hear in the news media, the gospel is moving forward.

An internationally known writer and speaker, Phil Cooke has produced media programming in nearly 50 countries around the world.

This article originally appeared at philcooke.com.

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