Robertson McQuilkin is somewhat of a hero among church leaders - while he was the president of Columbia International University, he resigned in order to care for his wife who was suffering from Alzheimers; his actions have served as an example of priorities in life, vocation and family. Before becoming known for his actions in leaving Columbia, McQuilkin was well-known as one of the gteat missionary thinkers in our day.
In the most recent issue of Christianity Today, McQuilkin writes a brief article entitled "Lost Missions: Whatever Happened to the Idea of Rescuing People from Hell?" After criticizing the current evangelical emphais on short-term missions and church-to-church partnerships (short-term trips do nothing to take the gospel to places where the gospel has ever been; partnerships similarly make no impact among unreached people groups), McQuilkin goes on to levy this critique:
Now we emphasize the glory of the God whom we love, almost to the exclusion of the uncomfortable truths about the lostness of the lost. Indeed a new missions text, The Changing Face of World Missions (Baker, 2005), has a chapter entitled, "Changing Motivations for Missions: From 'Fear of Hell' to 'the Glory of God.'" Of course God's glory has always been primary for the church...
But deliberately downplaying the motive of other-love will prove fatal, I fear. Actually, we're not shy about expressing our love for others, as long as the focus remains on the needs of the here-and-now. Holistic concern for health, education, and justice is okay...but other-love in terms of a rescue mission from a bad ending - well, that's so offensive to the postmodern we mustn't even mention it, let alone emphasize it.
...of course, we also are motivated above all by the Great Commandment, to love God. And one way to do that is to keep the spotlight on him, to glorify him. I must say, however, that the move to make 'the glory of God' the primary 'motive' so far has not increased missions passion in churches, if we gauge that passion by the numbers of new pioneer missionary evangelistic church planters.