Is the Commission Still Great?   •   Week 7

Is Missions Harmful?

Facilitator Tip
Ice Breaker & Snacks

Ice Breaker Activity

  • Star Trek or Star Wars?
  • If space tourism became affordable, would you do it? Where would you go?


Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find any Plomeek Soup or Gagh in your local grocery store (some people have no respect for Klingon cuisine!). So, we recommend going with a more basic space theme for the snacks. Blue Gatorade looks vaguely galactic. Add some star sprinkles (or regular sprinkles) to a Jell-O mix and serve up a big bowl of asteroids (popcorn).

Chapter Summary
Facilitation Recommendations

“We face a humanity that is too precious to neglect. We know a remedy for the ills of the world too wonderful to withhold. We have a Christ who is too glorious to hide. We have an adventure that is too thrilling to miss.” –G.P. Howard


The overall effect of cross-cultural missions has been to propagate Western values and foreign versions of Christianity at the expense of local cultures.

Chapter Summary

Facilitation Recommendations

In some secular circles, and even among some believers, world missions is associated with a legacy of imperialism, oppression, and discrimination. Without doubt, terrible things have been done in the name of missions. However, the idea that missions has been—and still is—predominantly destructive rests on faulty assumptions (cultures should be preserved exactly as they are, missionaries are the dominant force of change, Christianity is a Western construct, missionary influence has been primarily destructive, etc.). The gospel is good news for all people in all cultures with no exceptions. When we evaluate the impact of missions on the world, we must distinguish between the core message and the irresponsible, clumsy, and ethnocentric ways it has sometimes been carried out. Let’s acknowledge the mistakes of the past and strive to learn from them, but let’s not allow a negative perception of missions to diminish our enthusiasm for our God-given task.

Discussion Questions
Need some extra questions?

Questions from the Book

  1. Does the word “missionary” carry any sense of embarrassment or stigma in your mind? If so, why do you think that is?
  2. In what ways was Jesus a missionary? How did He relate to the culture around Him?
  3. When do you think it might be appropriate to challenge or change someone else’s culture?
  4. What do you think of the idea that we’ll still have distinct cultures in heaven?

Additional Questions

  1. Do you think a Prime Directive attitude toward other cultures is ethical for believers? Is it logical?
  2. Do you have any close friends from another culture? What has been your experience in relating to them?
  3. What was your response to the author’s experience among the Sawi? Do you think they were harmed by the missionaries? Do you think their experience is typical?
  4. Have you personally heard someone question the ethics of global missions? If someone challenged you, do you feel prepared to respond?
  5. What is your key takeaway from this week’s discussion? What are you going to do differently this week as a result of what you learned?