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Two centuries after Luther and the main thrust of the Protestant Reformation, the study of God (doctrine and dogma) became more important than the worship of God. This led to a movement called Pietism which brought back the missing spiritual engagement components in the like Bible reading and in prayer. Interestingly enough, Scripture reading and prayer is what led to the Protestant Reformation.
Count Zinzendorf was an Austrian nobleman who was a big proponent of Pietism. Due to persecution from other Pietists, Zinzendorf opened up his community in Herrnhut as a refuge for these exiled believers. Herrnhut was a breeding ground for new ideas engaging in mission. It’s interesting to note that a focus on Scripture reading and prayer led to a revival in mission with the Moravians. At the time, most Protestant denominations were sending one missionary for every 2,000 congregants. This was an age of a strong clergy laity divide. In Herrnhut, Zinzendorf leveled the playing field by teaching that all Christians were commanded to go. At the height of their movement they were sending one missionary for every 60 congregants to new frontiers. They were able to explore new ideas to send more missionaries to unreached areas. There’s a lot they can teach us. Here’s a couple of things they did well.
Moravians realized that to go to new frontiers they would have to be able to fund themselves. They couldn’t rely on existing funding networks for financing and had to get creative in how they supported mission. They needed trades that allowed them the freedom to serve on the fields they were in and allowed them the time to focus on the ministry. The Moravians started developing trades in leatherworking, shoe cobbling, sewing, and other craftsman type jobs. These skills were immediately valuable on the mission field. As a team, they were able to have people working the business and other team members focused on missions-only related tasks.
One of the oldest legacies to the Moravian missions creative funding approach is a company Kersten in Suriname. Kersten is the oldest trade company in the Western Hemisphere dating back 250 years. It started when Moravian missionaries developed trades in Suriname that transformed the entire country. God used business to create economic development and build trust among the Suriname residents. Along with trust, the Moravians built capital that was used to fuel more missions sending throughout the world. The business in Suriname generated finances that was sent from continent to continent to support new missions work in new fields.
The Goal is Sending
I’ve heard Ed Stetzer and others say that a North American church planting movement is unlikely to happen in the immediate future due to the diversity of ethnicity, upward mobility, and financial prosperity. However, I believe we can see a sending movement take place similar to the Moravian movement. Zinzendorf predated William Carey and his Indian missions by 60 years. If a sending movement takes place, arguably, we could see more church planting movements in the future. God may use a sending movement as the precursor to that work.
In order to send families and teams, we have to have a means to support the sending. A business for mission approach allows an open floodgate of missionaries to be sent out all across the world. Capital creation for the kingdom can build financial structures that allow for business for mission investing models that only fuels more missions movement.
Unreached Frontiers is the Goal
Zinzendorf and the other Moravians had a passion for unreached areas. After hearing about the slaves in the West Indies, Zinzendorf had compassion on them and mobilized the Moravians to send missionaries to them. This was unheard of in his day. May we be a group of Christians who see the unreached frontiers as the number one place we want to go even if that means investing our lives in places in tough soil and little limelight.
When unreached frontiers are the goal, it often takes much longer to see unreached areas become reached with the Gospel. The mission has a difficult time sustaining itself through new people. However, a business for mission approach takes care of sustainability for those missionaries and allows them to invest their time in the field without fear of of how to put food on the table for their families.
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