Living on Mission Wherever You Are
My friends at the Upstream Collective recently released their first book, Tradecraft: For The Church On Mission. The Upstream Collective has a great perspective on living for the mission of God. Their website puts it this way.
Serving as full-time Christian workers in Spain, Germany, Wales, Russia, and the U.S. has taught us a lot. One thing we at The Upstream Collective have seen first-hand is that God’s work around the world isn’t limited to one vocation. Rather, God is calling people from all professions and all kinds of churches to get involved in what He’s up to among the nations, whether that means being globally active from a physical distance or daring to break out of the American bubble.
In Tradecraft, authors Larry McCrary, Caleb Crider, Rodney Calfee, and Wade Stephens outline some basic missionary skills that they believe all Christians should understand. Caleb Crider described for me what the book is about and why they decided to write it.
Phillip Nation: Firstly, why did you title the book “Tradecraft?”
CC: Upstream helps the Church think and act like missionaries. As we speak with pastors and leaders across the country, we often find that they don’t actually know what international missionaries do. Missionary skills used to be part of discipleship. But somewhere along the way, those skills were separated out from the rest of discipleship and reserved only for those who are leaving their home cultures as professional missionaries.
The term “Tradecraft” is often affiliated with the world of espionage. But it really just means, “skill attained through experience.” It’s the “tricks of the trade” that become second nature to anyone who practices something long enough. We think missionary skills should be ingrained into the lives of all believers everywhere.
PN: You include “nine basic missionary skills.” Why nine? Why these nine?
CC: We actually started with a list of around eighty skills! We knew we had to narrow it down, so we focused on the most basic and practical. The first is “Following the Holy Spirit,” because that is so vital for our missionary endeavors. Other skills, like mapping, building relationships, and exegeting culture, give concrete ideas for getting teams, groups, or even entire churches directly involved in God’s mission at home and abroad. The nine skills that made the cut just seemed right. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do a second volume in the future.
CC: I think that churches are overwhelmed by need and opportunity. Need is everywhere, and the reality is that millions of people do not know Christ and have not heard the gospel presented to them in a way that they can understand. The scope and the urgency of the need is overwhelming, and I think a lot of churches aren’t sure what they can do about it.
Likewise, there is no shortage of opportunity. In terms of travel, communication, and coordinated partnerships, we face fewer limitations than ever. Even a church of modest means has access to people from around the world, and with this privilege comes great responsibility. But because they haven’t been trained to think like missionaries, churches are unsure of how best to decide where to get involved. They default to thinking like consumers shopping for a great mission trip experience, or like pragmatists, looking to get the most missionary “bang for their buck.” The worst is when great need and opportunity paralyzes a church, and they end up doing what’s “cool” or what they’ve always done. We believe that when churches think and act like missionaries, these things are brought into focus.