If you are serious about world missions and the accomplishment of the great commission, I strongly urge you to read this blog post. It is long, but it will be worth your time. Trust me. Here are my notes and quotes from my reading of the book "Releasing The Workers of the Eleventh Hour" by Ben Naja. I believe that this is a prophetic book and it has opened my eyes and impacted how I see my future!!
The book is based off the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20. Just like the landowner in the parable who gathered workers throughout the whole day and even at the 11th hour, God has been calling missionaries to himself since the garden and is doing it even today in the 11th hour.
Mission is not a modern concept, and the great commission did not begin in the New Testament. Missions began in God's heart longing to restore man's broken relationship to him. Mission began in the garden of Eden at the fall.
The Author of this book believes that the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20 is a prophetic parable with the following meaning: The workers that were hired early in the morning represent the missionaries of you'll testament. Like Noah, Abraham, Jonah, and Israel. The workers hired at the third hour represent the missionaries of the New Testament. These would have been the apostles, many of which were martyred. Although this may have been a small group, it was very instrumental and powerful in a short period of time in laying the foundation for the church. The workers of the sixth hour in the parable are the missionaries of the 4th to 18th centuries. Progress was very slow and very little people joined into mission...thanks to Constantine and the church entering the state. The workers of the ninth hour are the missionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries. There was major progress and over a period of 200 years, millions of people from all Nations came in contact with the Gospel and many churches were planted all over the world. But just like the parable of the landowner, the Lord of the harvest goes out again to enlist more workers. The 11th hour workers represent the missionaries of the 21st century. The workers of the ninth hour worked with tremendous effort and brought in an important part of the harvest, but with a decrease of global North workers and the drastic increase of world population, the Lord of the harvest knows that it is impossible for them to bring in the whole harvest on their own. 11th hour workers are needed!
We have made great advances in the last 200 years but we don't have another 200 years to wait. To reach the billions of people of our generation, millions of workers are required. And these workers are in the global South (Mainly Africa and Asia). The workers of the 11th hour will be so numerous that one will no longer speak of sending individuals, but of sending movements.
At the beginning of the 20th century, 94% of all Christians lived in the global North. By the year 2000, 71% of all Christians were living in the global South. This is an extremely significant shift. The church in the global North must recognize this change and keep in step with God's purposes for it. The Global North church has years of experience in cross cultural communication of the Gospel, and by sharing this experience with the leaders of the global South, they can help to catalyze and equip those who will do the majority of mission work in this final hour.
The leaders and churches of the global South are gaining confidence and independence. They no longer want to be seen as children, but they want to be taken seriously as partners. The leaders that God is raising up in the global South may very likely employ a more authoritative leadership style than the previous missionaries of the global North. That does not make it less biblical or less effective. We must trust them to set in place their own structures and send from their own structures. One of the reasons that it is so important that the global South develop its own sending structures is because their systems will match their culture. Especially in issues of conflict management and finance.
The workers of the 11th hour will not possess diplomas or academic titles. They will be made up of men and women that are qualified for ministry because of their maturity rather than their diplomas. They have received great authority through the anointing of the Holy Spirit rather than through positions or titles conferred by men.
Every year the western mission force loses around 7,650 missionaries. Formal theological institutions that say they train missionaries often address primarily knowledge components, not character or even skills needed to survive and thrive in cross-cultural missions. There will always be a need for graduates from seminaries and missionary training schools, but among the workers of the 11th hour, they will be in the minority.
The workers of the 11th hour do not expect financial support from their sending churches like the missionaries from the ninth hour and the global North. They may receive initial help or a small amount of regular support over a short period of time, but in general, their support will come from tent making (secular work).
One third of all unreached Muslim people groups are in sub-Saharan Africa, but proximate, or near to them, are 116 million Evangelical Christians. This is no coincidence. It shows God's careful preparation of his church to reach all people groups.
There are a number of reasons that people proximate to unreached peoples are best to be missionaries to those people. One is Geographic proximity. This is simple to understand because it is locationally convenient. Another is cultural proximity and this describes the proximity of a worker to the unreached in dimensions of worldview, customs and culture, historical affinity, and physical appearance. Another form of proximity is linguistic. This could mean that the sent come from similar linguistic families and languages with common structures and word use. Then there is economic proximity which describes the proximity of income levels and standards of living. When the missionary and their host people have the same standard of living, people are more likely to follow Jesus because of his person and his Gospel, rather than be influenced by a prospect of financial gain. Other aspects of proximity would include educational, sociological and missiological.
Workers of the ninth hour have modeled full support and full-time spiritual ministry for emerging missionaries of the global south. Such a model is not only too expensive for most churches in the global South, but, in most cases it is strategically unwise. Workers of the 11th hour should return to Paul's tent making model of the New Testament. Working a job among the culture that you are serving will automatically provide you entrance into the hearts of the dozens and even hundreds of people. This spirit filled performance of secular work proclaims the Gospel wordlessly and paves the way for verbal proclamation.
The workers of the global South should not go to the churches of the global North asking for money to send out missionaries! This is NOT a reproducible approach to missions for the global South.
We must have a contextual messenger, and a contextual message in order to do fruitful contextual church planting which produces healthy contextual churches.
We really must pay attention to our personal evangelism strategies and recognize that they are not the best approach. We must start thinking in terms of entire families, villages and networks (Oikos) coming to faith together, and rapidly. This was not only the approach of the New Testament but it is the most sensible approach to see church planting movements take off and the great commission accomplished. Oikos evangelism aims to reach the heads of households. To win the head of a family means to win a potential leader, a potential new church and a potential new meeting place. It does not matter where the church meets, a new location is won, and multiplication is pre-programmed. Workers of the 11th hour or more likely to understand the importance of Oikos Evangelism as a strategy, because they themselves often come from an Oikos oriented background.
A massive unprecedented revolution of social structures has occurred within the last two centuries: the world population has migrated from rural areas into cities. The 21st century is an urban world just as the previous 20 centuries of Christianity have been a rural world. It is estimated that by 2100 the number of rural inhabitants maybe only 10% of the entire world. This trend is of such a magnitude that it can be categorized as a population movement: the movement of more than 1 billion people to the cities over the last two decades is the largest population movement in history. The worldwide church has not yet sufficiently responded to this shift. Today the church is still working within mostly rural structures and contexts.
At the beginning of the 21st-century, there were 482 megacities (which are cities above 1 million people) and 20 supercities (which are cities with more than 10 million people). It remains the job of the workers of the 11th hour to flood all megacities with house church movements to Jesus. So far mission has always been associated with a romantic ideal, a picture of tribal peoples, palm trees and sunsets. We need to paint a new vision into the hearts of our young pioneering missionaries. Our new vision of missionary ministry must focus on the cities. If we want to win the nations for Christ, we need to conquer the cities. The migration to the cities is so large that it must have a divinely ordained redemptive purpose behind it. The workers of the 11th hour understand this new reality, because many of them were born and raised in megacities.
The churches and missions agencies of the global North have responsibility to serve as catalysts to global South sending movements by encouraging their initiatives, patterns of engagement, development of ministry models and sending structures. Catalysts don't recruit co-workers for their own mission agencies; rather, they join the sending movements of the global South, working in their name and under their leadership.
If the workers of the last hundred years of missionary experience fail to pass on the lessons they've learned to the workers of the next hundred years, then they condemn the emerging missions movements of the global South to repeat their mistakes. But, our trainings that we offer to emerging 11th hour missionaries should be short, specific, need and practice oriented training. It usually should take place in the form of short seminars and conferences. And on site.
The balance between the two extremes of paternalism and unkindness must be maintained at all costs. There are ways to partner that hold responsibilities for both parties. Neither giving things to people nor doing things for people will be of much long-term benefit, and both may have serious negative side effects.
Workers of the ninth hour assist the sending movement of the global South by coaching and mentoring its leaders. Many of these mentors will not necessarily live among an unreached people group, rather will inspire, encourage and coach from the outside, from the global North. This will be a new emerging role called the non-residential missionary. They may not always be on site, but will not necessarily be less effective.
The church of the global North and the church of the global South must enter into equal partnership and the church of the global North needs to accept that the emerging movements of the global South must develop their own structures, implement their own strategies, follow their own leaders and bear their own name. The northern churches must except that they are no longer parents of underage children, but partners with mature counterparts.
Note: The Lord does not divide his church into global North and global South. He views it as one body through which he brings kingdom blessings to all the families on earth.
Many missions leaders believe that the fulfillment of the great commission could be achieved within our generation many believe that the final hour of world missions is rapidly approaching.