The Twentieth Century Mission Toolbox

Vibrant presence has a high value, as evidenced in the Lord’s command to “Go.”  

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I’m what you’d call a slow adopter, kind of dull to tech breakthroughs.  Maybe it’s because I’ve grown accustomed to the dizzying rate of new stuff all the time.  I was born in the midst of last century’s tech bonanza, plus I’ve seen enough CGI at the movies to imagine a whole lot of gadgetry that doesn’t even yet exist.  Bells and whistles have become passé to me.  

There’s a certain ingratitude borne of not having lived in prior centuries.  You never appreciate the latest breakthrough until you’ve tried to do things the hard, old-fashioned way.  Like typing gospel tracks on a manual typewriter.  Or being on a slow boat for months, trying to reach a mission field.  

In a sense, the potential for a golden age of the Book of Acts is now even more so than during the actual Book of Acts.  I imagine telling the apostles that we’d picked up their mission baton and run with their unadulterated message of Christ crucified and resurrected.  

And then I’d tell them about the tools we have at our disposal.   

For instance, we can reach the uttermost parts of the earth in about twenty hours rather than twenty months.  We can publish electronically in mere moments and reach an audience of thousands.  We can punch a button and talk to someone (including video) without moving out of a chair.  The largest library of information that has ever existed lies within a few keystrokes, dwarfing the voluminous library of Alexandria.  And we can add volumes of our own to it at will.  

I can only imagine what missional work Paul would do with the technology of twenty-first-century life.  

And I imagine him asking me what I’ve done with it. 


I’m slow to recognize our considerable tech advantages, but now and then, I’ve done…well…okay.

This last week, for instance, I conducted an intense study of the gospels with an African country.  I sent a large outline in advance, which got to them in seconds.  The brothers there made copies—not handwritten, the painstaking work of a professional copyist with parchments, who needed days or weeks to finish.  No, they made their copies on a machine and had the job done within a few hours.  Come meeting time, I went down to my basement office here in Ohio, and they gathered in their meeting place on the other side of the world, and we interacted in real-time.  

Astonishing if you think about it.

Now, tech definitely has its limitations.  Streaming video like Zoom has the quality of physically disconnecting a group of people from one another even as it tries to connect them through mere audio and video data.  It’s sort of like a ghost speaking apart from a body.  We learned about the downside of Zoom during COVID, when, after fifty video meetings, folks in our church were still feeling strangely alone.

I’m reminded about the importance of physicality, presence, hugs and handshakes, immediacy, and the living aura of a person in a room.   Jesus employed it constantly in the Gospel of Mark, where He was always putting His hands on those He healed.  In Matthew, He promised the continuing power of it by saying, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).  Vibrant presence has a high value, as evidenced in the Lord’s command to “Go.”  

Technology can’t replace everything, no matter how cool it is.  It can’t be trusted in place of the Spirit, still less should it be used to create loopholes.  But who doesn’t appreciate a pair of pliers after trying to loosen a bolt with their fingers?  Who doesn’t appreciate a saw after trying to cut boards with a steak knife?  

It’s hard to give this last century a two-thumbs-up for its humanitarianism.  

On the other hand, it might just have loaned us the finest practical toolbox ever for the spread of the gospel.


This is an updated edition of a post originally published on John Myer

Featured Image by White Field Photo on Unsplash

The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

John Myer is an evangelical Christian who likes to think as well as pray. Though he loves to write, his passion also has a live outlet. He planted and currently pastors a church, Grandview Christian Assembly, in the greater Columbus, Ohio area. He is a dad, a husband, and an expatriated southern man living up north. And by the way, he has a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

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