Not long ago, David Sitton, founder/president of To Every Tribe, tweeted me with a question:

“What do you see as the 3 big missions issues/challenges in the 21st century?”


I was honored that he tweeted me because

    1. I love sharing encouragement from the mission field
    2. I am continually thinking about relevant new ways to empower missionaries
    3. He included me in a long list of mkissiologists like David Platt, Justin Long, etc.
    4. I finally realized that I am a missiologist!


Missiology is the area of practical theology that investigates the mandate, message, and mission of the Christian church, especially the nature of missionary work.

I responded that the 3 big missions issues/challenges that I see in the 21st century are:


 1. Contextualization/Gospel relevance: presenting the Gospel message in understandable terms and definitions will continue to be an issue. Cross-cultural ministers will be required to be learners, understanding the cultures (honor/shame, fear/power) that they seek to impact, and seek the Holy Spirit about how to communicate effectively to their host cultures.

2. Empowering indigenous missions efforts: this issue will test the cross-cultural minister’s willingness to work himself out of a job, raise up Timothy’s, and release local leaders to oversee ministry efforts.

3. Holistic Gospel-centered ministry: navigating the popular (albeit, valid) humanitarian-style ministry may continue to cause friction against the overarching goal of making disciples and planting churches.



Of course, there are many more. I look forward to the wide missiological discussion to take place, challenging and inspiring many more to respond obediently Jesus’ call to go into all nations and make disciples among every ethnolinguistic tribe.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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