Missionaries from Singapore?

Singapore map.jpeg

With churches which by most measures are some of the healtiest and most vibrant in Asia, a strategic geo-political location, and an economy/standard of living that is the envy of the world, what are the obstacles that prevent Singaporean Christians from serving as full-time cross-cultural workers in countless needy areas around the globe?

While I have not studied it in depth, I have seen enough for it to mystify and concern me. Several cursory reasons stand out from my interaction with Christians in this city-state that is an anomaly for Asia.

1. Attitudes toward higher education stunt the missionary sending compulsion. The drive inherent in Confucian-based cultures for educational achievement results in few feeling they are “qualified” for such ministry. This is puzzling in light of the corresponding corollary that too often, higher education increases ministry ineffectiveness.

2. Family ties and obligations are particularly strong. As in many Asian societies, the demands of Luke 12:26 are particularly challenging.

3. An uncomfortable percentage of Singaporean churches adopt an attitude of “going it alone” when it comes to missions. This basic misunderstanding of missional ecclesiology means that far too many Singaporeans who do follow God’s leading cross-culturally are sent by local churches that are structurally and missiologically incapable of overseeing, leading, or caring for them. It is an interesting case study, to use Ralph Winter’s phrase, of the “amateurization of the missionary task.”

4. Would that Singaporeans demonstrate the zeal, commitment and spirit of sacrifice evidenced by their Korean brethren. If it is happening, I haven’t seen it. Unfortunately, it may be that the materialism and pursuit of personal peace, prosperity and job security so prevalent in North American Christianity has likewise begun its neutering, numbing affect in Singapore as well. How sad.


Singapore has enormous potential. May it step up and take its rightful place as a major contributor to God’s Kingdom purposes around the world.

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