Contact Us in the UK

  • Phone: 01302 811319
  • Email: 
  • Mailing Address:  24 Elmfield Road, Hyde Park, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN1 2BA

Contact Us in the US

  • Phone: 202.468.4571
  • Email: 
  • Mailing Address: PO Box 5188 Wheaton, IL 60189-5188

news from the Radstock network

local heroes - you need to get out more

Posted by Brian Jose on

Posted by Brian Jose


Brian Jose, Radstock's Executive Director, opens the hatch on a common tension in churches today between 'local' and 'global' mission, and issues a challenge to us to all 'get out there,' whether it's among the lost, the poor, the 'uber-cool,' and the broken, wherever we find them, with the transforming message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And to forget the artificial distinction between 'local' and 'global' mission.'

I confess. I'm tired of people suggesting to me that I'm too committed to global mission. "What about local mission?" they ask me, as if this is some original thought. I like to say that 'all mission is local -- it merely depends upon where you are at the time'. Last month, though I was in the USA with two Albanian leaders and I was reminded again why all those "local heroes" (people who see global mission as some sort of enemy of local mission) really ought to get out more. 

Arvid and Aget, my two Albanian friends were, of course, excited to visit San Francisco, undoubtedly one of the world's most beautiful and influential cities. We rode the cable car from the bay to Market Street, San Francisco's shopping heart, and a hive of street performers, beggars and homeless -- all of whom seem to be experts at playing cat-and-mouse with San Francisco's men (and women) in blue. I stood back and watched as Arvid and Aget, each of whom is well travelled in Europe and Asia, had their sensory circuits overloaded by this cultural melange of races and lifestyles. Arvid, an ex-Muslim coming from a nation where 0.5% are evangelical believers, had this verdict on "Christian America": "These people really need God." Who could argue, as you looked on at people sleeping in in doorways or clearly strung out on some substance, while uber-cool made their way past to the designer shops? 

US, San Francisco

Then I saw him -- David (pictured left), carrying his sign: "Jesus Christ Loves You". I went over for a chat. David agrees with Arvid. These people really need God. He'd been "getting the message out" for about seven years, six days per week, about 8 hours per day on Market Street. David said he rarely talks to anyone, but he remains committed to his work.

I'm in awe at his faithfulness, and in despair at what appears to be a contextually inappropriate methodology. The uber-cool were as oblivious to him as they were to the junkies hanging out on the corner. The message was true. Jesus Christ really does love you and me. But it was missing the mark because of it was delivered in a culturally irrelevant manner to most, if not all, of the people walking within a few steps of David.


A UK newspaper survey a few years ago of those who had given up on church found that most people thought their local minister should get out of the pulpit and onto the street, serving people in need. It was a call to relevant mission. Ever since Hudson Taylor went to China in 1853, global mission workers have been thinking about gospel and culture. Local heroes need to listen and learn -- and get out more themselves.

[Editor's note: Scripture never envisages a distinction between 'local' and 'global' mission (Acts 1:8), just that we be faithful witnesses wherever we are in the world. We need, as Brian suggests, to recognise the local nature of mission, the world over. And also, we need to ask what would it have meant for the growth of the early church, if the folks at Antioch had not taken advantage of the peaceful passage afforded by the Roman Empire, to send Paul's team to seed the Gospel in other localities and cultures round about (Acts 13). How would the Book of Acts read today if the church at Antioch had said to themselves, 'We just work on our own patch?']

This discussion is a live issue in many churches today. And in other churches where it is not an issue, it probably should be. We always welcome feedback on our blog entries, so if you would like to comment here, please do so using the form below, or contact us.

Tags: cross-cultural mission, global mission, us, albania


Back to Top