Webinar title: “Giving Honor: Key to Healthy Cross-Cultural Partnerships”
Healthy cross-cultural collaboration is vital to the witness of the gospel in a lost and fractured world (John 17:21). However, collaboration in partnerships or networks is a lot harder when questions about honor status—whether spoken or unspoken—create stress or division. Honor status is not a small issue; it impacts trust, leadership, who has a voice, who is validated, how success is shared, and more.
This webinar will bring to the surface the problem of honor competition, rivalry, and honor status—common in the New Testament church. We will examine the Spirit-empowered solution of “giving honor” (Rom 12:10, 1 Cor 12:21–26 )—across cultures and across different levels of social status. Together, we will explore various ways that “giving honor” can help make our own networks or partnerships more healthy relationally—and more fruitful for the gospel.
Synergy Commons (a ministry of visionSynergy) will be co-facilitating with me a five-day online group discussion (i.e. Burst group) on this topic following the webinar. More information will be provided by Synergy Commons as we get closer to the webinar. –Werner
Four 10-minute lessons on honor and shame. Click here to learn more.Here are four short lessons—10 to 15 minutes each—to introduce to you some of the
principles of the pivotal cultural value of honor and shame in the Bible—and how it relates to building relationships—with God and across cultures.
Skit about honor and shame in refugee ministry. Give this to your friends who are dramatically inclined. And let them introduce the subject of honor and shame in building cross-cultural relationships—especially with refugees. Two skits compare relational skills. Funny and warm. Click here to download.
Gospel tract: Present the life-transforming message of Jesus Christ in the language of honor and shame—through the story of The Prodigal Son. Here is a gospel tract in development which may radically change how you share the gospel. Check it out here.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6–7 ESV)
The Bible teaches that when it comes to spiritual fruit, “God gives the growth.” But with our modern management orientation in Christian ministry, we often think we can control outcomes. This is understandable because of the high-control mindset—so common in the secular environment of the Western world; but is it biblical?
I once attended a small gathering of mission leaders for a “Sailboat Retreat” during which we compared the powerboat mindset with the sailboat mindset—and what it could mean for Christian mission ministry. (Note: If you want to understand the difference between the powerboat and sailboat mindsets, click here for a brief article.) One of the things we discussed is that money is very often a controlling force in ministry. As a result, fundraising is what often shapes ministry. This can be quite unhealthy, an example of “the tail wagging the dog.”
In keeping with the sailboat theme of “catching the wind of God”—one of the ideas we considered in our sailboat retreat is this:
Instead of having money as the single greatest catalyst for ministry, what if that catalyst was simply listening—listening to God and His Word, and listening to people?
To make this contrast clear, take a look at two “formulas” for ministry. With the “powerboat” formula for Christian mission, the catalyst is money:
Money drives ministry for results
Money drives the process; no funding = no ministry = no results.
Money comes first; listening is almost optional and comes last.
Primary emphasis on fundraising and methods to raise money.
Western nations have more funds, therefore wealthy nations tend to control ministry.
Implies reliance on expensive structures, technology, “missions machinery.”
Money makes “mission” go fast.
Tremendous pressure on people for results—measurement of outcomes—in order to maintain funding. This shapes ministry strategy and reporting protocol.
With the “sailboat” formula for Christian mission, things are very different. The variables are the same, but the priorities are different. The catalyst is listening—to God and people.
Listening shapes ministry for faithfulness
Listening replaces money as the catalyst for global missions.
Listening comes first; money is almost optional and comes last.
Primary emphasis on—listening to God—catching the wind of the Holy Spirit.
Implies a quantum leap by Christian mission leaders in the West relative to listening to Christian mission leaders in the Majority World—while at the same time adopting more of a servant role rather than a leadership role in missions.
Ministry can go forward without excessive reliance on funding.
Sometimes fast, sometimes slow; it depends on the wind of God.
Results are up to God, and can greatly exceed the plans of people, or not. Either one is okay, because God is in control. What is required is that God’s people be found faithful.
Obviously, there are generalizations involved in making formulas and it would be easy to critique specific pieces of the formulas above. Nevertheless, the point of this is to imagine: What would be different in your cross-cultural partnership, if you put listening ahead of funding? What if listening to God and to people was by far the most important, the most catalytic practice, in your cross-cultural partnership ministry—or any ministry, for that matter?
COSIM—Coalition On the Support of Indigenous Ministries—is pleased to announce the convening of the 17th annual conference to be held May 7–9, 2012. The location is Mission Community Church, in Gilbert, Arizona near Phoenix.
The conference theme is “Cross-Cultural Partnership In the Context of Deep Change.” The conference is a continuation of the theme launched at the “RESET conference”—the 2011 North American Mission Leaders Conference—sponsored by The Mission Exchange and CrossGlobal Link.
Jane Overstreet will be the keynote speaker on the evening of May 7th. Jane is the President & CEO of Development Associates International (DAI) a non-profit organization providing training and consulting in leadership and organizational management to more than 10,000 Christian leaders in 30 countries annually.
Other presenters include Scott Allen of Disciple Nations Alliance, Terry Dalrymple of Global CHE Network, J. Knox of International Turkey Network, and more, including members of the COSIM Resource Team.
COSIM is a learning community of evangelical Christians and organizations with a common interest in the support and capacity building of majority-world ministries.
Our mission is to expand the understanding and practice of cross-cultural partnerships with indigenous ministries for the advance of the gospel. We accomplish our mission through networking and sharing of best practices, with emphasis on partnerships between North American and majority-world missions.
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 missionaries—to 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 workers—to 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.
Shift #4:From Western missionaries—to 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.
Mission ONE president Bob Schindler just returned Monday from Kenya. One of the major reasons for going was to visit with Mission ONE’s long-time ministry partner, National Evangelical Outreach (NEO Kenya), led by Pastor Wilfred Githongo Kabiru and his wife Rahab. (Also, a major strategic mission partnership with NEO Kenya is in the works, and Bob was there to navigate the process.)
One of NEO’s newest and most successful projects has been a tailoring school for women, located in Kijabe Town. While Bob was there, the tailoring school celebrated it’s second graduating class. (See other pictures below.)
This tailoring school ministry has been rescuing women from the sex trade. These women are receiving hopefor eternity through faith in Jesus Christ—as well as hope for today—through learning the trade of tailoring. The tailoring trade enables the women to earn a living honorably in order to avoid the sin, shame, and life-threatening hazards of living “on the street.”
Funding for this tailoring school came from a Baptist church in North Carolina. We praise the Lord that this three-way strategic mission partnership—between NEO Kenya, a generous local church, and Mission ONE—is resulting in a beautiful collaboration through Jesus Christ to bring hope to the hopeless. Praise the Lord!
I love the perspective he gives in the preface (page xviii).
We still see the West as the ecclesiastical center of the world, even though the vast majority of Christians in the world today are located elsewhere. What African or Asian Christians are doing and writing seems so marginal to us, and it penetrates our own theological discussions only in a vague, ephemeral way.
We as Westerners continue to vastly overestimate the role of our trained theologians, missionaries, denominations, and mission agencies in the actual task of global evangelism and church planting. We continue to talk about church history in a way that puts Europe in the center, and church history outside the West is reserved for those preparing for the mission field or church historians pursuing specialist studies. We continue to think that our own theological reflections are normative and universally applicable to all people from all cultures. In short, the Western church has not yet fully absorbed how the dramatic shifts in global Christianity are influencing what constitutes normative Christianity. … We must learn to think bigger, listen more, and look at the church from a wider vista.
Dr. Tennent is asking Christian leaders, missionaries, and lay persons from the West to … develop better listening skills … adjust their attitude from assuming a leadership role to a servant-oriented “team player” role … and to broaden their understanding of what God is doing in the world. It’s all very fitting for Christians in the West who are pursuing healthy cross-cultural partnerships.
Could it be that cross-cultural partnerships give us the opportunity to deepen our theology … that is, to deepen our knowledge of God, our ability to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and our maturity as followers of Christ? Could the pursuit of healthy cross-cultural partnerships be that important?
Rev. George Odaa is the Director of Grace Evangelical Mission in Kisumu, Kenya. George and his wife Lightness have led the GEM Home and served as “parents” for about 20 orphans for several years. George has a passion for teaching the Word of God and has faithfully taught these children the glorious truths of God revealed in Scripture.
Rev. George and Lightness Odaa
Below is a passage from the recent quarterly report from Rev. George Odaa:
In the book of Hebrews we have this verse:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. God has said; ‘I will never leave you; I will never forget you’(Hebrews 13:5).
Again, quoting from David, the word of God tells us that, “I will not be afraid, because the Lord is my helper. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).
These and many other verses in the Scriptures give children of God comfort and courage to endure affliction and difficult times. We the family of Grace have seen the Lord fulfill these words in [our] life time however short. The family of Grace started with much assurance that it is God who wanted me to take a step of faith to plant this new ministry of caring for orphaned and destitute children. Just at the age of 34, God called me to take this challenge to do His work amidst lots of opposition from friends and some good Christian brothers. I took the challenges head on and started the GEM (Grace Evangelical Mission).
The GEM Home now is a light on top of a Hill bringing new life to orphans and needy children in our society. … God has used the ministry to bring honor and glory to His name.
GEM children having fun playing games at home
Praise God for all that He has done in GEM Kenya. What he has done to his people. Thank you Lord for using dear brethren all over the world, to bring a rich fulfillment to our deep soul longings, to your own glory. Amen.