Nine critical shifts for world missions, by T.J. Addington

At the 2011 North American Mission Leaders Conference in Scottsdale on September 29–October 1 (also known as the RESET conference), T.J. Addington gave a presentation: “Critical Shifts From the Black and White to the Color World.” T.J. Addington is Senior Vice President of Reach Global, Evangelical Free Church of America. The primary participants in this conference were members of the North American evangelical Christian missions community. I am grateful for Mr. Addington’s permission to present his points here.

Shift #1: From being primarily doers—to being primarily equippers

Watchwords: Developing, empowering and releasing.

Shift #2: From being in charge—to equal partnerships

Watchwords: Equal partnerships are the coinage of the color world.

Shift #3: From owning and controlling—to “we own nothing, control nothing and count nothing as ours”

Watchwords: Serving with an open hand.

Shift #4: From Western missionariesto global missionaries

Watchwords: All people reaching all people.

Shift #5: From dependencies—to self–sufficiency

Watchwords: Promoting dignity.

Shift #6: From addition—to multiplication

Watchwords: Equipping others.

Shift #7: From competition—to cooperation

Watchwords: We are better together than alone.

Shift #8: From an emphasis on my brand—to His brand

Watchwords: Jesus died for His bride, not my brand of the church.

Shift #9: From agency based missions—to church/agency synergy

Watchwords: The vision for missions belongs to the local church.


My comments: The shifts represented by the points above are largely consistent with our philosophy of ministry and practice at Mission ONE. At the risk of sounding self-promotional, below are some brief comments relative to where we stand as a mission organization.

Shift #1: From being primarily doers—to being primarily equippers. Mission ONE is all about equipping and empowering national missionaries—also known as indigenous Christian workersto reach their own people, as well as nearby unreached peoples—with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Shift #2: From being in charge—to equal partnerships. As Mission ONE President Bob Schindler says, “Healthy partnerships are not father to son—but rather, brother to brother.

Shift #3: From owning and controlling—to “we own nothing, control nothing and count nothing as ours.” Mission ONE does not control the ministries with which we partner. Our attitude is high trust, rather than high control. Our high-trust partnerships are based on years of serving one another, overcoming trials and obstacles together.

From Bryant Myers: Exploring World Mission: Context & Challenges (Monrovia, CA: World Vision International, 2003) p. 53. Based on information from Operation World by Johnstone & Mandryk (Paternoster, 2001)

Shift #4: From Western missionariesto global missionaries. The center of gravity of Christianity has shifted from the West to the Global South; this is consistent with the rise of the national missionary movement. The national missionary movement does not “need” the support of the West to thrive; however, we believe that so much can be done for the advance of the the Gospel through healthy cross-cultural partnerships. It is our honor to serve one another in unity. Jesus prayed, “…that they may be one even as we are one … 
so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them 
even as you loved me” (John 17:21–22). Moreover, the global trend of the migration of peoples, refugees and college students to the West (some of them Christian) have made most of its cities home to dozens, if not hundreds, of nationalities; this has resulted in both vibrant new ethnic churches in the West as well as wonderful opportunities for blessing people from other cultures. The opportunities for cross-cultural relationships are across the street and around the world. It truly is a new world of Christian mission that is largely “from everywhere to everyone.”

Shift #5: From dependencies—to self–sufficiency. At Mission ONE, we believe that healthy interdependence is the biblical ideal. Some of our partnerships are healthier than others from the standpoint of healthy interdependence versus unhealthy dependency. We believe that the large majority of our partnerships are on the healthy side of the continuum.

Shift #6: From addition—to multiplication. Mission ONE has invested very significant resources in “multiplication.” That’s what Mission ONE Training Ministries is all about. Operation WorldView and The Beauty of Partnership were created to equip churches, individuals, and mission teams for cross-cultural ministry and healthy cross-cultural partnerships—thus multiplying our impact. This is my passion as Director of Training Ministries for Mission ONE.

Shift #7: From competition—to cooperation. The very nature of healthy cross-cultural partnership is cooperation, so naturally, cooperation is part of the DNA of Mission ONE. Moreover, in the development of both Operation WorldView and The Beauty of Partnership, our attitude has been to cooperate with whomever we can—with several different ministries—sometimes paying significant royalties to do so.

Shift #8: From an emphasis on my brand—to His brand. Ever since Bob Schindler founded Mission ONE, we have never sought to “put our name” on the ministries with which we partner. We insist on organization to organization partnerships by which local accountabilities and indigenous identities remain intact.

Shift 9: From agency based missions—to church/agency synergy. Mission ONE has a high view of the centrality of the local church in the Great Commission. Our current Strategic Mission Partnership with Biltmore Baptist Church and Mission ONE’s partner—National Evangelical Outreach Kenya—is one such example. It is our intention to be “the bridge” for many more such strategic mission partnerships between local churches and indigenous ministries.

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