Is the Commission Still Great?   •   Week 2

Are Western Missionaries Obsolete?

Facilitator Tip
Ice Breaker & Snacks

Ice Breaker Activity

  • What old-school technology do you miss or hang on to? Phones attached to walls? Cassette tapes? Kerosene lanterns?
  • What current technology do you hope becomes obsolete? We vote charging cables.


We think of animal crackers as a snack for children, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still delicious! We recommend dipping them in a can of frosting for maximum goodness.

Chapter Summary
Facilitation Recommendations

“The burden of proof rests upon you to show that the circumstances in which God has placed you were meant by Him to keep you out of the foreign mission field.” –Ion Keith-Falconer


Western missionaries are not needed like they once were. The church is growing in other parts of the world and local Christians can do a better job of reaching their own people.

Chapter Summary

Facilitation Recommendations

Many North American Christians are convinced that missionary sending—to the degree it’s needed at all—should now be delegated to Christians from other parts of the world. Sending career cross-cultural missionaries from the West can seem anachronistic. Technology, globalization and the growth of the Church in the Global South all have a dramatic impact on the way we go about missions, but none of those factors change our responsibility to participate in fulfilling the Great Commission. Westerners still have an important role to play in partnership with the church of the Global South. The equipping and sending of qualified missionaries from our local churches into the least-reached cultures of the world is still important. Don’t believe the myth that Westerners are no longer needed or wanted.

Discussion Questions
Need some extra questions?

Questions from the Book

  1. Were you surprised by the statistics about the growth of the church in the Global South?
  2. Suppose someone told you your church couldn’t send missionaries anymore. How would you feel? Would you be disappointed? Relieved?
  3. How do you feel about the idea of you personally, or missionaries you support, working in partnership with, and even under the leadership of, believers from the Global South?

Additional Questions

  1. Do missionaries, or missions in general, feel old-fashioned to you?
  2. Were you familiar with the terms “West” and “Global South”? When you think of all the Christians who have ever lived, what categories do you tend to divide them into?
  3. Were you surprised to read that the church of the Global South still wants us to send Western missionaries? What have you heard, read or experienced that influenced your expectations?
  4. Currently, about 1% of the money Christians give to global missions is used for ministry to the unreached. What percentage do you think should go to the unreached?
  5. Do you think that your church could establish or maintain a biblical focus on global missions if it sent only money? What difference do you think it makes to send people from our congregations?
  6. What do you think about the book’s assertion that a prime indicator of a healthy church is its outward orientation, most clearly expressed when it sends its own members into cross-cultural ministry? By that measure, how healthy is your church?
  7. Are you aware of what people groups live near you and how much gospel witness they have? If not, how could you find out?
  8. 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?