Something has to Change: How the Scatter Movement Came to Be

February 15, 2023

We live in a fast-changing world. The evidence is all around us and Futurists tell us that, ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet.’ Geo-politically, socially, culturally, technologically – even spiritually, our world has seen monumental shifts take place in the last 50 years (see table below). 

So, it should come as no surprise that how we approach talking about mission and kingdom impact in the world also needs to change. 

Something Needs to Change

The importance of this conversation was brought home to me not long after I took over as CEO of a large, traditional missions agency. One of our leaders working in the Middle East shared his belief that ‘there will be no traditional missionaries in the Muslim world within 10 years.’ 

By ‘traditional missionary’, he meant individuals who felt specially called, highly trained, left their job, raised support and joined a mission’s agency to go live and witness in another part of the world. He went on to say that they will not get access. ‘The day of the missionary visa is over.’ 

But he added something that signaled to me that the change needed was beyond the practical shift of models, pathways, and strategy. ‘The Philipina maids have done more for the spread of the gospel in the Arabian Peninsula than all the traditional missionaries together,’ he said. 

This caused me to stop. 

A New Kind of Missionary

The workforce represented here was a whole new category of people. They did not fit my profile of a ‘missionary.’ They were not specially called, highly trained, they did not raise support, nor did they join a missions agency. And they did not leave a job – they took a job. 

In this moment I understood that this was not about thinking up new ways to do missions. Instead, I needed to think of missions differently.  

What started for me as a practical problem to solve, became a quest to gain new understanding of how God was already at work in the world. 

I quickly discovered that God’s way of carrying out his mission seemed much more effective than our missiology, and I wanted to understand why. Although the changing world trends were important to understand, they could not be our primary motivation for change. They simply helped inform some of the change.  No, I needed to first find out what else I had gotten wrong missiologically. 

Not long into that journey, I came to another realization. I needed to go back to the beginning - back to theology. Asking questions like, what was God’s intent in creating the world? When Jesus announced God was still King and His Kingdom was here, what did He mean? Who does God include as participants with Him in establishing that Kingdom? What is our role in it?  What aspects of life does it intersect with? And so much more. 

This journey of sitting in scripture, seeking to understand in a fresh way God’s purpose in and for the world was both exhilarating and challenging. Challenging because I often found myself defaulting to my missions agency lens and getting stuck. And exhilarating when I could see beyond that narrow lens into the glorious and grander vision of God’s rule and reign on the earth. 

God's Mission for Humanity

One thing that emerged was a new potential workforce. I saw in Genesis 1 that God created all humanity to represent Him in the world. Though Satan tried to distort the image of God in humanity Jesus redeemed and restored it so anyone who comes to Him has that original identity and purpose restored. WOW! 

The mission of God is for the people of God. In other words, it is not something you are called into it is something you were made for.  

This realization brings in to action 99% of the church who have felt excluded or excused from the mission God. The ‘excused’ are happy to delegate to other ‘professionals’ they may support and the ‘excluded’ do not feel worthy, called, or able to join the mission agencies as they were set up. Not to mention,  this new workforce includes the global church, the majority of which live in places like Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, India and South East Asia. Places we have seen as recipients of the western mission activity. 

However, these places are not just recipients but full participants in the mission of God. And I would add should also be the leading voices.

Suffice it to say, the truth about this new (yet original) workforce, the whole body of Christ, brought me quickly to a place where I understood that the existing mission enterprise and its systems were not built for such a group. Especially when we include the understanding that one of the primary places where the people of God are to live and witness is the place they spend most of their time, the workplace.  

At the same time, these systems of ‘mission’ as we know it were built in the west, by the west and for the west, not for a global church. As one Kenyan leader told me, ‘your western models of mission will not work for us.’ 

Something has to Change

Something has to change. It is not a tweak to current models and methods. It is not simply about thinking up new ways to do missions. 

The change needs to start with our theology, which in turn informs our missiology and then, informed by the changing world, we build pathways to help this new workforce live this out. And God’s mission is for every follower of Jesus, regardless of where in the world they are.  

So, what is Scatter all about? We’re about helping Jesus followers around the world rediscover and fully step into their God-given identity and purpose of representing God in the world. Why? Because we believe that when the everyday Jesus follower is unleashed into their God-given potential, both locally and globally, that whole communities are transformed, bringing lasting, wholistic Kingdom change. 

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World Trends Table

1959 2022
Global population = 3 Billion8 billion 
1.6 million refugees in the world60 million
750 million lived in cities4.46 billion live in cities  1.5 times the total population of 1959
250 computers in the world8.7 billion (including smartphones) 
No Cell phone existed5.9 billion
250 million people traveled internationally annually1.45 Billion
1.5 Billion don’t know Jesus3.2 Billion – the same as the total global population in 1959
65% of Christians live in the west35% of Christians live in the West 

Written By Global Contributor Andrew Scott – Author and Scatter Global Co-Founder

Tagged as: Spiritual Life  

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