Winter on Amateurism in Frontier Mission

Winter on Amateurism in Frontier Mission
CC image courtesy of Nick Herasimenka available here.

In the booklet The Challenge of Unreached Peoples, Ralph D. Winter outlines some of the potential dangers and opportunities faced when we consider how to reach the Unreached Peoples of the world.

In this first post of a series, we look at the first challenge and opportunity, what Winter calls "Amateurism."


We must be sure we do not think this task can be completed by the simple, rapid process of mere "evangelism" within a strange culture, where the people themselves can do the work. Far more difficult is the process of the Gospel getting into the life and work of a people, making sense within their worldview. That is much more complicated than the more common process of natural evangelistic growth once the Gospel is rooted in the very soil of a culture.

Mission is a very special kind of evangelism. Amateurs do not readily succeed.
Ralph Winter

When the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:22) heard about the need of Greek-speaking people in Antioch those Jerusalem believers did not send a local pastor much less a layman (untrained), much less a short term person. They took the cross cultural problem seriously and worked very strategically to send a believer who grew up in Cyprus.

Barnabas was a bi-lingual and bi-cultural person who could deal effectively in a situation like that where the culture-bound believers in Jerusalem would probably fail.

Failure is exactly what happened when Peter later visited Antioch as a tourist. He failed to understand what the missionaries had been doing. Tourist missionaries can't do the job. Either long term missionaries or bi culturals are necessary whenever we face a truly cross cultural situation as we always do with Unreached Peoples.

Fortunately, there are more bi cultural believers in the world today than ever! Seeking them out, encouraging them carefully, is far more strategic than barging in to make a name for ourselves as heroic missionaries. The Bible tells us so.

We'll keep you up to date.