Mission ad gentes, frontier missions, and church planting

The mission ad gentes has this objective: to found Christian communities and develop churches to their full maturity. This is a central and determining goal of missionary activity, so much so that the mission is not completed until it succeeds in building a new particular church which functions normally in its local setting.

Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, §48

Sometimes evangelicals and Catholics have a hard time understanding each other. One example of this is that in Catholic thought mission to the totally unevangelized, where there is no church at all, is called mission 'ad gentes', which is Latin for 'to the nations' more or less. Evangelicals don't use Latin (and don't know it usually), but they use a very American image for this same endeavor: frontier mission. This word is present even in the name of missionary agencies like Frontiers (a major player) and Anglican Frontier Missions (a minor player).

What I like about this quote above is that it ties in frontier mission to planting churches, and not ust making a handful of converts here or there. I believe that the truth announced in this section of Redemptoris Missio is agreeable to both Catholics and evangelicals. If anything is sad, it is that both Catholics and evangelicals invest far too little in this essential missionary endeavor.

What do you think? Is your church active in frontier mission 'ad gentes'? How so?


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