Now facing its third millennium, the Christian church faces a moment of great historical importance and opportunity. The modern missionary movement is now over two centuries old. Looking back over those years, it is clear that God mobilized His people to make great strides in taking the gospel to many parts of the world.
This missionary movement has seen the evangelization of millions of persons representing thousands of ethnic and cultural groups. The Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages and dialects. Over the last several decades, new areas of the world have shown a remarkable response to the gospel, and the continent of Africa may now be the center of the world missionary enterprise. In fact, the last half of the twentieth century saw an enormous evangelistic response throughout the Pacific Rim and the African continent.
Today, the Christian church faces new challenges. Without exaggeration, we can point to the twenty-first century as a new era in Christian missions, and recognize it as a vast new opportunity.
Looking at Christian missions today, we may be seeing the birth of a new missiological movement. This new era in missions will build upon the accomplishments of the last 200 years, but it must also be adapted to the new realities of our world context.