Three trends that point to partnership with indigenous ministries as a vital missions movement

The three trends are: 1) Globalization, 2) Non-Western missionary movement, and 3) Short-term missions movement (STM).

1) Globalization: Globalization has had 
a huge impact on the practice of world missions. [1] It is marked by the widespread use of digital technology and the Internet, low-cost international travel, dramatically lower cost for global communications, the growth of global markets, and financial interdependence. While globalization offers many benefits that have accrued to Christian world missions, there are also aspects of globalization, which, when used uncritically, can undermine the growth and mission of the church. [2]

Non-Western and Western Evangelicals2) Non-Western missionary movement: The chart at right [3] compares and projects 
the growth of the number of non-Western evangelicals relative to Western evangelicals from 1960 to 2020. This growth is in part a testimony to the success of missionaries sent from Western nations to Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as to the receptivity of the gospel among harvest nations. It also gives witness to the transforming power of the Word of God when translated into the heart language of any people group. [4] The Lord has raised up countless new churches and Christian mission structures in hidden or obscure communities all over the world.

3) Short-term missions (STM): The dramatic growth of short-term missions in recent years represents both amplified opportunity and amplified threat. It is estimated that some 1.5 to 
2 million laypersons from North America visit the mission field every year. Whether the human and financial resources being expended are making a long-term difference is questioned by many. One non-Western Christian leader speaks of such mission trips as the “elephant dancing with the mouse.” [5] More often than not, “the mouse gets hurt.” Others point to the many accomplishments of STMs on the field and renewed enthusiasm for missions for the Western returnees. Care must be taken that STMs and cross-cultural partnerships do not foster another form of colonialism. [6]

So the movement of partnership with indigenous ministries—or partnership with nationals—is concurrent with these major global trends. It is one reason that cross-cultural partnership is not just a missions fad, but a vital mission strategy for the church in the world today. Furthermore, we believe at Mission ONE that training is essential in order to realize the full potential for accomplishing global Christian mission through cross-cultural partnership … and this is the purpose of The Beauty of Partnership learning journey.

Can you think of other trends that contribute to—or challenge—the movement of partnership with nationals?


1. See Friedman, Thomas: The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)
2. See Guinness, Os: “Mission modernity: seven checkpoints on mission in the modern world,” from Sampson, Samuel, Sugden, eds: Faith and Modernity (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 1992), p. 322-325. This article was originally presented at Lausanne II in Manilla (1989) and remains an incisive commentary on this issue. While Guinness does not use the word ’globalization,’ his article on modernity is completely suitable and appropriate to this subject.
3. Myers, Bryant: Exploring World Mission: Context & Challenges (Monrovia, CA: World Vision International, 2003) p. 53. Based on information from Operation World by Johnstone & Mandryk (Paternoster, 2001).
4. See Sanneh, Lamin: Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) 
p. 10–11
5.See Adeney, Miriam: “When the Elephant Dances, the Mouse May Die” (Short-Term Missions Today, 2003-2004 Issue) p. 86–89
6.See Livermore, David: Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 2006

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