This paper was written after researching several online articles available in evangelical websites. The objective of the paper is to prove that Mass conversion is a well though out strategy and is not a coincidence as it is being thought today. Please note each and every piece of information is taken directly from Missionary literature and IS NOT MY CREATION.
Older Methodology: Mission Station Approach:
In this methodology, They acquired a piece of land, often with great difficulty. Then the missionary arrives. He and his family worship on Sunday. They are the first members of that congregation. He learns the language and preaches the gospel. Through the years a few individual converts are won from this group. Sometimes its a woman, a man, a boy, a girl who decide to follow Jesus. Very often, a few employees of the mission become Christian. These may be masons hired to erect the buildings, helpers in the home, rescued persons or orphans. In due time, a church building is erected.
But Missionaries now are not satisfied by the result from such a Approach. Some of the reasons are
1. Lower Returns: The expectations were often frustrated by meager response. In the light of the this Professor Latourette writes:
The advanced cultures and faiths of Asia and North Africa did not yield so readily as did those of the primitive folk, either to Western civilization or to Christianity. This was to be expected. It has usually been characteristic of advanced cultures and their religions that they have been much slower to disintegrate before an invading civilization.
2. Rising Nationalism: Missionaries feel that the days in which the mission stations can exert a major influence on the affairs of Eastern nations are drawing to a close. The temper of these days in the East is not that of humbly sitting at the feet of missionary tutors. They feel that sleeping nations are now awake. Mission schools & Hospitals in Asia and North Africa no longer have the influence which they once had. For example, Up till 1945 the Central Provinces of India had not produced a single qualified doctor. Its university had no standard medical school. The only fully qualified doctors were a few immigrants from other provinces and missionary doctors from abroad. But today there are four hundred students in the medical college of its university. As this flood of physicians flows out over the cities and towns and eventually the villages of this province, the present near monopoly of the Christian hospitals is likely to be destroyed.
3. Social Situation: The missionaries feel that Conversion is not a Accepted norm in society. Each convert, as he becomes a Christian, is seen by his kin as one who leaves “us” and joins “them.” He leaves our gods to worship their gods. Thus the Christian cause wins the individual but loses the family. As a result, conglomerate congregations, made up of converts won in this fashion, grow very slowly.
New Methodology: People Movements:
Now they have taken a new approach which they refer as Peoples movement. According to them, It is a God-designed pattern by which not ones but thousands will acknowledge Christ as Lord, and grow into full discipleship as people after people, clan after clan, tribe after tribe and community after community are claimed for and nurtured in the Christian faith. They claim several list of movements in India to back their claim some of them are Malas and Madigas, the Nagas and Garas, the Mahars and Bhils, and many others.
Some of the salient aspects of new methodology is as follows:-
1. Aim for a cluster of growing congregations: They now target a cluster of growing, indigenous congregations every member of which remains in close contact with his kindred. For example, if they were evangelizing the taxi drivers of Taipei, then their goal is to win some taxi drivers, some university professors, some farmers and some fishermen, but rather to establish churches made up largely of taxi drivers, their wives and children, and their assistants and mechanics.
2. Concentrate on one people: The principle is that the national leader or the missionary and his helpers, should concentrate on one people. If they are going to establish a cluster of growing congregations amongst, let us say, the Nair people of Kerala then they make all the missionaries and their helpers to focus their work among the Nairs. They will proclaim the gospel to Nairs, saying quite openly to them, “We are hoping that within your great caste there soon will be thousands of followers of Jesus Christ who also remain solidly in the Nair community.” They will, of course, not worship the old Nair gods, but then plenty of Nairs don’t worship their old gods. Plenty of Nairs are Communist and ridicule their old gods. Nairs whom God calls, who choose to believe in Christ, are going to love their neighbors more than they did before and walk in the light. They will be saved and beautiful people. They will remain Nairs, while at the same time they become Christians.
3. Donot Differentiate: They are now encouraging converts to remain with their people The principle is to encourage converts to remain thoroughly one with their own people in most matters.
Bishop J. W. Pickett, in his important study Christ’s Way to India’s Heart, says:
The process of extracting individuals from their setting in Hindu or Moslem communities does not build a Church. On the contrary it rouses antagonism against Christianity and builds barriers against the spread of the Gospel. Moreover, that process has produced many unfortunate, and not a few tragic results in the lives of those most deeply concerned. It has deprived the converts of the values represented by their families and friends and made them dependent for social support to the good life and restraint on evil impulses upon men and women, their colleagues in the Christian faith, with whom they have found it difficult to develop fellowship and a complete sense of community. It has sacrificed much of the convert’s evangelistic potentialities by separating him from his People. It has produced anaemic Churches that know no true leadership and are held together chiefly by common dependence on the mission or the missionary
Now according to them a mere change of name accomplishes nothing. Thus a Christward movement within a people can be defeated either by extracting the new Christians from their society (i.e. by allowing them to be squeezed out by their non-Christian relatives).
4. Convert in Groups: The principle is to try to get group decisions for Christ. If only one person decides to follow Jesus do not baptize him immediately. Say to him, “You and I will work together to lead another five, or ten, or God willing, fifty of your people to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour so that when you are baptized, you will be baptized with them.” Ostracism is very effective against one lone person. But ostracism is weak indeed when exercised against a group of a dozen.
5. Do not try to change society: Now its seems that Missionaries donot want to upset the applecart by taking own ageold institutions. According to them, let Paul did not attack all imperfect social institutions. For example, he did not do away with slavery. Paul said to the slave, “Be a better slave.” He said to the slave owner, “Be a kindlier master.”