This morning when I got out of bed, I did what many American men do in preparing for the day. As I stood at the bathroom sink I lathered shaving cream on my face and proceeded to shave with my trusty razor. My hand-held razor is more advanced than razors were 30 years ago when I first began to shave. That first one used a stiff, wide, opposite-sided two-edged blade that had to be alternated from one side to the other as the cutting edges became increasingly dull. Today’s razors are much more advanced and effective. Anyone who shaves by this method knows that a paradigm shift has taken place in their design. Now the head has three thin, flexible blades aligned together back-to-back in a series. These triple cutting edges working together give a much closer and longer-lasting shave than the old model ever did.
That’s precisely what is happening in the world of missions today. Instead of one big blade of dominant Americans along with Europeans, there are three blades: the Americans, the Europeans, and the two-thirds world. With the new sharp edge of the two-thirds world now set into place, all are working in a redesigned configuration. The three are aligned in synergistic formation that promises to promote greater efficiency for the whole.
Today’s American church still maintains a vital edge in missions, but we are not alone nor do we dominate the task. America’s edge in reaching the remaining unreached peoples of the world will be borne out as we use our God-given resources effectively in partnership with the other two mission players. n Five biggest threats to American missions that could render us ineffective: 1. Growing belief that non-believers are not really “lost.” 2. Growing tendency to do mission by proxy—substituting our money and technology for flesh and blood missionaries. 3. Increasing compassion-depleted church, especially exhausted by adjunct concerns such as ecology, reconciliation, social justice, abortion, etc. 4. Increasing fragmentation between churches-agencies-schools in the sending process. 5. Slowness in moving from traditional mission models and structures to meet new global realities.