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Defining and Refining the Task


Communicate. Care. Network. Equip. Recruit.
Those five verbs capture the aspects of “doing mission” that I would like to emphasize in my role as EFCCM Asia Director that commences in January 2019. The order of those verbs has been determined by a poll of EFCCM Asia personnel.

However, mission leaders need to do more than just identify characteristic verbs for their leadership task—they also also need to continually refine the task.

I like the following helpful summary of what missionary work and leadership entails:

Defining and refining the task in light of the Text and context.

This helpful statement was unpacked by Marvin Newell of MissioNexus when he addressed the Feb 2013 annual meeting of Japan Evangelical Missionary Association in Tokyo.

How might I apply it to my new Asia Director role? How might you apply it to your missional ministry in Asia or elsewhere?

In my case, I need to do more than just define my task in, say, five verbs. I also need to continually be refining my task. Refining is probably a slower task than the initial task of defining.

My Japanese mini 4WD truck moves along slowly because it only has a 660cc engine (the max allowed for mini vehicles in Japan). But it provides a perfect vehicle for accomplishing the tasks I do with it (especially when I choose the appropriate gear!).

Refining the task of missional work and leadership is probably also a slow job. But refining is necessary in order to keep us in alignment with the Text and to confirm that we are relevant to our cultural contexts. Missions is both a theological and cultural enterprise, isn’t it?

I believe that God’s objective truths revealed in the Bible, though interpreted through the more subjective and personal lenses of our various adopted cultural contexts, must be the bedrock of our missional task. So as I continually refine my task I want to do so while being conversant with both the cultural context and the Text, but always giving weight to the Bible when it is rightly understood and interpreted.

The Text teaches that followers of Christ are to lead in humility, gentleness, patience, and love. That’s Paul’s practical application in Eph. 4:2 of the systematic theology he emphasized in the previous three chapters. In the case of my Asia Director role, this at least means giving priority to communication and discussion with my missionary colleagues. It means refining the task together with others. The little prepositional idea of WITH takes on special significance when trying to emulate the manner of leadership taught in the Text.

That makes sense because refining the task is not only necessary. It is also complex. It would be foolish for me to try to refine the task unilaterally through my “missionary in Japan” lenses. I look forward to collaboratively refining the task of EFCCM Asia leadership alongside EFCCM Asia personnel.

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