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Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?

Roland Allen entered China on an assignment from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to their North China Mission. He was later trapped within Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion, hiding with other Christian foreigners and fearing for his life. Traumatic events in his early life led him to take a new view on his calling, as well as the theological standpoint and the methods of evangelising employed by most European churches at the time.From the earliest, Allen supported the approach of seeding churches which could support themselves, grow on their own and perform their own governance activities. He advocated the incorporation of local customs into the church and a wider variety of types of Christianity as opposed to churches which only mimicked European counterparts. He envisaged better practice involving community leaders in the propagation of Christianity. He was even willing to entertain the idea of deploying lay ministers without formal training across unconverted areas. Arguing from his conviction that the Holy Spirit would guide new churches in their infancy, he accused his contemporaries of patronising condescension.In Missionary Methods he by turns excoriates missionary techniques and argues for the absolute necessity of proselytising to those who have not yet been able to know Christianity. As a well-travelled man of strong opinions, his position on ethical missionary work is intriguing to say the least.