In the last post, I suggested that “reproducibility” can subtly disguise a common idol—time. The modern missionary zeal for reproducible methods may be more about speed than reproducing faithful Christ followers
Perhaps there are other more subtle reasons why people treat reproducibility as the measuring stick for missionary methods. Frankly, it may simply be because the many missionaries themselves don’t understand so much of the Bible; they themselves need simple formulaic methods or else it would be over their heads.
Nowadays, no one expects missionaries to have graduated from a seminary. Many people have little to no theology training at all. Missionaries struggle to maintain consistent times of Bible study and prayer, just like any one else. For many, their main understanding of the Bible comes largely from their pastor and whatever books they’ve read. What are we to expect when these people serve in a cross-cultural setting with little equipping. They are faced with the task of teaching the Bible using a second/third language in a foreign culture they understand less than the Bible.
What happens if we add just a small dose of paternalism? What if missionaries subtly harbor thoughts that are more patronizing than loving––”They couldn’t understand this big book. They are less educated than I am. I can’t even understand it.” Little by little, we foster an environment where missionaries demand simple, if not overly reductionistic, methods. All the while, we use the name “reproducible” as a broad umbrella term, which guards against objections by others.
After all, who would dare argue against having a message and methods that can be reproduced?