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William Carey was a restless, young lay preacher who wouldn’t sit down until he had said what he felt needed to be heard. The crucial paragraph of Carey’s Enquiry, which he wrote in 1792, proposes to use “means”—that is, appropriate mission structures—to begin finding solutions to the problems that God has given us to solve. Carey writes:

“Suppose a company of serious Christians were to form themselves into a society, and make a number of rules respecting the regulation of the plan, and the persons who are to be employed as missionaries etc. etc. This society must consist of persons whose hearts are in the work, men of serious religion, and possessing a spirit of perseverance; these must be a determination not to admit any person who is not of this description, or to retain him longer than he answers to it.”

Carey’s proposal—that Christians “form themselves into a society” to start tackling the problems of his day—was the “big bang” that created the Protestant mission movement. As a result, today a thousand mission agencies are busy working on the tasks that God gave them to do. But is a thousand enough? And are they effective? And what crucial mission tasks have not even begun to be addressed? The essential task of the Presbyterian Center for Mission Studies (PCMS) is asking the questions that will help Presbyterians become more effective at “overcoming evil with good” by encouraging the forming of appropriate mission structures.

The PCMS has been at this since 1972. And lots of restless, courageous believers have started new, appropriate mission structures since then (The Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship—www.pff.net—for one). These days restless people are organizing non-profit organizations by the hundreds (Read David Bornstein’s How the Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas). William Carey would approve. But some of the most important non-profits have yet to be started. Some people will be inspired by reading Ralph D. Winter’s “The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission”, or Robert Blincoe’s “Can We Avert a Train Wreck?”. Others will be inspired by Kenneth E. Bailey’s “A Tale of Three Cities” or by Cody Watson’s “Mission Orders and the Presbyterian Church”. The PCMS knows there are hundreds of dreams that will become reality when believers take the steps to join existing mission structures or start new ones when necessary. Let a hundred initiatives bloom!

Presbyterian Center for Mission Studies
1605 Elizabeth St.
Pasadena, CA 91104