Save the date for the 2017 Honor-Shame Conference

Honor, Shame and the Gospel conference banner

Don’t miss the first Honor-Shame Conference!

Honor-shame networkYou are invited to the inaugural conference of the Honor-Shame Network—a community to learn and work together for the sake of the gospel. Professors and educators, pastors and thought leaders, cross-cultural workers and creatives, professional practitioners and others will gather at Wheaton College in June 2017.

Can the gospel of Jesus Christ better engage today’s world—from unreached people groups to secular postmoderns to global refugees? Could the gospel receive a better hearing with people caught in a world of sin and shame … cynicism and alienation … violence and displacement … defilement and exclusion … consumerism and emptiness … lostness in all its dimensions? 

How might we reframe the gospel in a way that is both biblically faithful and culturally meaningfulThis is why our conference theme is, “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message for 21st Century Ministry”.

Mark your calendars: June 19–21, 2017

HS conference pageWhat are the aims of the conference?

  • Facilitate a networking and learning environment with leaders from a variety of disciplines and nations.
  • Seed new teams and projects around the world—to engage in research, experimentation and the development of new ministry resources.
  • Move toward normalizing honor-shame as an essential component of theological and missiological discourse—and gospel contextualization. 

Join us to reflect upon and explore what “honor-shame” means for a range of Christian disciplines—from theology to missiology, from pastoral ministry to orality, from counseling to the worship arts. The network conference will feature plenary sessions, round-table discussions, workshops, and collaborative learning experiences.

“In order to truly reflect the promises of Christ in a contextualized manner, we must use the keys to each culture in our gospel witness. Honor/Shame cultures are all around us. The more we understand those who embrace this worldview, the better we will become at engaging them with the hope of the gospel in ways they will most respond to. This conference is very timely as our world becomes more globalized and pained under the weight of sin.” –Laurie Nichols, managing editor, EMQ; communications director, Billy Graham Center for Evangelism

Learn more at the conference website:
» honorshame-conference.com »

Recent Changes in Christian Approaches to Islam

This article by Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo provides great insight into the challenges and tensions concerning Christian ministry to Muslims.

Recent Changes in Christian Approaches to Islam

It deals with such things as:

  • The impact of 9/11, and how various governments dealt with the issue of violent Islamic extremists
  • Various efforts concerning Christian-Muslim dialog and the InterFaith movement
  • The Insider Movement in missions and areas of concern

The article is nuanced and is written by a Christian intellectual who is a former Muslim. I recommend it highly. Below the article is “An Assessment of the Insiders’ Principle Paradigms”, by Jay Smith—also a valuable perspective.

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.

Results from the 2010 U.S. Census: It’s here and now—the rising need to train believers to build authentic cross-cultural relationships

The Brookings Institute has released an eye-opening report based on the 2010 U.S. Census: America’s Diverse Future: Initial Glimpses at the U.S. Child Population from the 2010 Census, written by William H. Frey. It focuses on the faster than expected rise of the ethnic diversity of the child population in America. The report has profound implications for the local church and Christian ministries.

These are the two most startling facts from this report:

  • New minorities—Hispanics, Asians, and other groups apart from whites, blacks, and American Indians—account for all of the growth among the nation’s child population. From 2000 to 2010, the population of white children nationwide declined by 4.3 million, while the population of Hispanic and Asian children grew by 5.5 million.
  • Ten states and 35 large metro areas now have minority white child populations. Child populations in the Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, and Phoenix metro areas flipped to “majority minority” by 2010.

This Brookings paper on the 2010 U.S. Census explores the compelling facts about the increasing ethnic diversity of America—a diversity which, in America’s child population, is growing more rapidly than expected. For churches in America, the facts in the report represent more than a ministry challenge for the distant future. This is about seeing the needs and seizing the golden opportunities for cross-cultural ministry and cultural understanding. It’s about serving children and families, building God’s kingdom cross-culturally—right here, right now.

Here are 14 ramifications I see for the Church in America—based on the Brookings report concerning the 2010 U.S. Census.

Because of the rapid increase of the ethnic diversity of the child population of America, I suggest that discerning pastors and other Christian leaders will …

  1. See the gift and seize the opportunity.
    These remarkable demographic shifts among the youth of America are God’s gift. All too often these changes are viewed fearfully. But these changes need not be viewed as a threat; rather, these changes represent an enormous opportunity which is specially suited for the Church. Is there not an expectation from God toward his people to seize these opportunities to bless other peoples and nations?
  2. Prioritize youth and children.
    Recognize the immediate priority for training youth leaders and children’s ministry leaders in Christ-centered Cultural Intelligence (CQ). Increasingly, the children and youth whom they serve are from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
  3. Pursue cross-cultural friendships with other leaders.
    The U. S. Census findings show that while the white child population declined by 4.3 million, there was a corresponding increase of 5.5 million in the Latino/Asian child population. Opportunities for cross-cultural ministries and partnerships between leaders and their communities will continue to grow. Leaders who are bi-lingual and/or comfortable in another culture will have advantages over those who are not.
  4. Ride the trends through training.
    The mega-trends of globalization and the migration of the peoples have amplified the need for training in cross-cultural ministry. Savvy leaders will embrace the reality that the long-term health of the Church is at least partly dependent on this: Devoting resources to training ordinary believers in the local church to relate well to people from other cultures.
  5. Equip laity in CQ.
    Christ-centered Cultural Intelligence (CQ) training used to be for the experts. In the Church, the “experts” are represented by professional career missionaries. But the demographic changes represented by this 2010 Census report strongly imply a major shift needs to happen. That shift is from the assumption that CQ is an exclusive thing for professionals—to an assumption that it is a basic commodity, basic training for everyone—for ordinary believers from child to youth to adult. It’s a vision where CQ training becomes a normal part of Christian discipleship.
  6. Embrace “glocal.”
    Healthy churches will embrace cross-cultural ministry locally and globally. Missions is no longer characterized as just sending people or resources from here at home to way over there; rather, the mandate of God’s Word and the opportunities implied by the 2010 U. S. Census and other global trends—is to bless all peoples, both local and global, or “glocal.” It’s from everywhere to everywhere.
  7. Teach local/global all the time.
    The great pastors will preach and teach God’s Word consistently to their congregations with a global blessing mentality. As a result, their members’ capacities for cross-cultural ministry locally and globally will increase. The annual missions conference, or an annual missions-emphasis weekend will increasingly become a thing of the past. Only regular preaching and teaching with a local+global cross-cultural theme will satisfy the cross-cultural ministry demands of the local church.
  8. Teach WHY; teach HOW.
    It’s one thing to know the biblical basis for blessing all the peoples of the earth. The role of the preaching pastor is clear in this regard. But it is a whole different thing to equip ordinary believers with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to build relationships cross-culturally. The effective church will give ample attention to equipping average believers in this regard.
  9. Expect generation-based tensions.
    This is nothing new. But it could get worse. Older generation lay leaders—the Baby-Boomers and older in the church family (usually the bigger givers)—are comfortable with the cultural status quo. Young, ethnically diverse members of our churches will likely have very different priorities for ministry. This will create tension and will require much patient prayer, listening and navigational expertise.
  10. Anticipate shock … and joy.
    Culture shock will not be something believers experience only on far-away mission trips. Might it also become a routine aspect of local church ministry? On the other hand, believers who are trained in building authentic cross-cultural relationships will find even more joy in following Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all peoples and nations.
  11. Seek out the sage.
    Who are the sages of cross-cultural understanding in the Christian world? Are they not the seasoned missionaries and ministries with years of experience serving or partnering cross-culturally? Seek those missionaries and ministries who love to train ordinary believers in local churches to build healthy cross-cultural relationships and partnerships. Many are longing to serve you. Is it wise to think you don’t need them? Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  12. Explore the CQ resources. In addition to The Beauty of Partnership Study Guide available though this website, there are several books designed to help leaders acquire Cultural Intelligence. A quick search at amazon.com will make you aware of the number of books available.
  13. Remember the unreached peoples far away. The increasing ethnic diversity of our own communities, especially in urban settings, may tempt some Christian leaders to think that reaching the peoples within their own community—is satisfactory obedience to Scripture. But Jesus said, “…make disciple of all nations… (Matt. 28:19) and “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The temptation to focus on “local alone”, regardless of how ethnically diverse it may be, should be avoided for a balanced approach that is local, regional, and global.
  14. Expect great blessings from God.
    This represents a huge opportunity for the local church to participate in the grand over-arching purpose of God—to bless all the nations of the earth through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Expect cross-cultural ministries and partnerships—locally and globally—to become more fruitful, more exciting, more dynamic. Obedience to Jesus Christ combined with cross-cultural understanding and training will result in a great harvest of transformed lives—for the glory of God.

Download the article here: America’s Diverse Future: Initial Glimpses at the U.S. Child Population from the 2010 Census, written by William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution.

Aid groups warn of Sudan civil war risk

There have been recent protests by southern opposition supporters

From the BBC web site: Ten international aid groups say a 2005 peace deal in Sudan is on the verge of collapse and that the world must act now to prevent renewed conflict. Read the full article here.

This is a huge issue for all those who are engaged in cross-cultural partnerships with indigenous ministries in Sudan. Mission ONE has two significant partnerships in Sudan, one with Arabic Speaking Congregations led by Idris Nalos, and the second with Evangelical Free Church of Sudan, led by Severino Maira Janus. Mission ONE has had long relationships with both Idris and Severino, whose minsitries have been engaged in evangelism, church planting, and holistic ministry for some 20 years.

What can you do?

  1. Pray for peace in Sudan.
  2. Contact your Sudanese ministry partners and ask their advice. Listen with your heart and mind.
  3. Visit the Save Darfur web site. Explore various ways to take action. This web site has the best array of news, action options, and detailed information about Sudan that I know of.
  4. Keep appraised of happenings in Sudan by visiting the BBC web site, African section.
  5. Share what you learn with your friends.

“Globalization in Retreat”

Below is an excerpt from Roger C. Altman’s[1] article in Foreign Affairs, entitled “Globalization in Retreat: Further Geopolitical Consequences of the Financial Crisis.” This article represents a macro/secular/western/American point of view; I believe there is much for us to consider as followers of Christ who serve as advocates of cross-cultural partnerships. The article begins with the following four paragraphs. It is well worth reading the whole article, which is available here.

It is now clear that the global economic crisis will be deep and prolonged and that it will have far-reaching geopolitical consequences. The long movement toward market liberalization has stopped, and a new period of state intervention, reregulation, and creeping protectionism has begun.

Indeed, globalization itself is reversing. The long-standing wisdom that everyone wins in a single world market has been undermined. Global trade, capital flows, and immigration are declining. It also has not gone unnoticed that nations with insulated financial systems, such as China and India, have suffered the least economic damage.

Furthermore, there will be less global leadership and less coordination between nations. The G-7 (the group of highly industrialized states) and the G-20 (the group of finance ministers and centralbank governors from the world’s largest economies) have been unable to respond effectively to this crisis, other than by expanding the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United States is also less capable of making these institutions work and, over the medium term, will be less dominant.

This coincides with the movement away from a unipolar world, which the downturn has accelerated. The United States will now be focused inward and constrained by unemployment and fiscal pressures. Much of the world also blames U.S. financial excesses for the global recession. This has put the U.S. model of free-market capitalism out of favor. The deserved global goodwill toward President Barack Obama mitigates some of this, but not all of it.

What might the macro-perspectives in Altman’s article mean for Christians who are advocates of cross-cultural ministry partnerships?

  1. With their relatively insulated economies, India and China “have suffered the least economic damage.” Might this mean that India and China will become less dependent on resources from the West? Will Christian leaders from India and China assert greater leadership in the world Christian movement?
  2. “…creeping protectionism has begun.” Could this mean that more people in the American evangelical missions community will invest more in local missions? Will a form of “protectionism” in the local church cause a wane in the short-term missions movement—or a reduction in funds available for global concerns?
  3. What are the implications stemming from the likelihood that the “global economic crisis will be deep and prolonged?” That funding for the Great Commission originating from North America will decline? That Christian leaders will take a harder look at the ways that their missions resources are being invested? Will this result in more funding for indigenous ministries, which inherently cost less, and less funding for westerners who want to go as missionaries?
  4. “Much of the world also blames U.S. financial excesses for the global recession. This has put the U.S. model of free-market capitalism out of favor.” Will this hinder the influence of U.S.-based global mission efforts? Or will the “global goodwill” toward President Obama make it easier?
  5. Given the vast numbers of immigrants from non-Western nations and unreached peoples in North American cities, will local churches focus more resources on reaching these people in their own communities?

What do you think? Please comment below.

1. Roger C. Altman is Chair and CEO of Evercore Partners. He was U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary in 1993–94.

Partnering with “mission from below” to reveal God’s mission from Above

Dr. Samuel Escobar is professor of missiology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.
Dr. Samuel Escobar was professor of missiology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.

I love this quote from Samuel Escobar’s book “The New Global Mission: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone” …

Drive and inspiration to move forward and take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, crossing all kinds of geographical and cultural barriers is the work of the Holy Spirit. There is an element of mystery when the dynamism of mission does not come from people in positions of power and privilege, or from the the expansive dynamism of a superior civilization, but from below—from the little ones, those who have few material, financial or technical resource but who are open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. …

It was in 1927 that Roland Allen (1869–1947) first coined the expression, “the spontaneous expansion of the the church,” and we can now measure the incredible extent to which a Christian testimony among the masses of this planet has been the result of such spontaneous expansion, especially in China, Africa and Latin America. In many cases such expansion became possible only when indigenous Christians were released from the stifling control of Western missionary agencies.[1]

One of my very favorite mission books. –wm
One of my very favorite mission books. –wm

Why do I love this quote? It suggests, on the one hand, that the emerging fast-growing church in the “global south” does not need the wealthy church of the West (or “global north”) to grow and flourish and carry out its mission. On the other hand, it prompts this question:

Can the global church achieve true cross-cultural partnerships between … A) those in the church represented by “mission from below” (Christians in the global south: Africa, Asia, Latin America) … and B) those from the more wealthy churches of the Christian world in the global north (Christians in North America and the West)?

And in light of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21 — “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me,” consider this: Can we experience cross-cultural partnerships in Christ’s global church in such a healthy manner that the prayer of Jesus is fulfilled—that the world sees that the Father has sent Jesus … that this mission of Jesus is, in reality … God’s mission from Above?

At Mission ONE, we know this is a genuine possibility because we see it alive and working today and every day in our ministry. We also know that healthy cross-cultural partnerships are possible for you and your church tomorrow.

Interested? Write to me, Werner Mischke. Or if you have a comment, please post it below.

1. Samuel Escobar: The New Global Mission: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone (InterVarsity, 2003) p. 19

Rio’s win for the 2016 Olympics: an impact on world missions?

A Brazilian celebrates in Copenhagen after Rio de Janeiro won the right to host the 2016 Olympics.
A Brazilian celebrates in Copenhagen after Rio de Janeiro won the right to host the 2016 Olympics.

The Wall Street Journal had a terrific article on Saturday October 3rd about Rio de Janeiro winning the bid for hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. The article was written by Matthew Futterman in Copenhagen, Matt Moffett in Rio de Janeiro, and Douglas Belkin in Chicago. Here are some quotes:

… Rio de Janeiro, in a dramatic victory over much-wealthier cities, won the right to host the 2016 Olympics, bringing the Games to South America for the first time and crystallizing Brazil’s rise as an economic and political power. …

… Brazil’s strategy tapped into a strong current of resentment among delegates outside Europe and North America whose countries had also never hosted the Games. Brazil had lobbied these voters behind the scenes in a bid to win over a contingent they thought would be sympathetic to their cause. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pleaded with IOC voters to send a “powerful message … that the Olympic Games belong to all people, all continents, and to all humanity.” …

… The pitch [by President Obama] contrasted the one given by representatives of Rio, who spoke of an entire continent yearning for acceptance. …

… “This throws a little cold water on the Obama dream that simply having a fresh face and open-minded rhetoric will change the way the world views America,” said presidential historian David Greenberg. …

After the announcement of the final vote, Mr. da Silva said, “Brazil has moved from being on the level of a second-class country to a first-class country.” …

For the full content of the Wall Street Journal article, along with photos, click here.

After viewing the photos and reading the article I smiled. It is great to see the overwhelming enthusiasm of the Brazilians for gaining the the privilege of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.

I began to ask myself, what impact will this have on the world Christian movement? I doubt that this will have much direct impact, but I believe the indirect impact—an impact on attitude—could be very significant. I wonder …

  • Could it be that American leadership in the world is waning and that in the work of Christian global missions, the role of Americans will be increasingly that of a servant and partner rather than leader?
  • Could it be that the voices of western and American Christians will be marginalized as more majority-world Christian leaders emerge on the global scene?
  • Could it be that the wealth of the church in some nations in the majority world such as Brazil, India, China, South Korea, and South Africa will become increasingly significant forces for world evangelization while conversely, the status of America as a debtor nation will reduce her influence in the world Christian community?
  • Could it be that this makes cross-cultural ministry partnerships all the more vital for the future of the world Christian movement?

I think the attitude of confidence and celebration shown by Brazil and other majority world nations relative to Rio’s winning the bid for the 2016 Olympics will influence the church worldwide. I believe this is healthy. After all, Christianity is not a western religion. The more that Christianity is not dominated by one culture (and here I am thinking of western culture) … the more that Christianity is seen by the world as a faith for all nations, and that Jesus is Lord and Savior for all peoples … the more it fulfills God’s original promise to bless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3) …

“…so that as grace extends to more and more people
it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:15).

Rio wins. It’s a good thing. What do you think? Go ahead, leave a comment below.

“One flock, one shepherd” … or … “sheep without a shepherd?”

Jesus as the Good Shepherd from the early Christian catacomb of Domitilla/Domatilla (Crypt of Lucina, 200 AD). How does the idea of “one flock, one shepherd” impact your partnership?
Jesus as the Good Shepherd from the early Christian catacomb of Domitilla/Domatilla (Crypt of Lucina, 200 AD). How does the idea of “one flock, one shepherd” impact your partnership?

Jesus said:

“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16 ESV).

Consider the words, “… one flock, one shepherd.” Imagine how this rang in the ears of the first disciples, who knew that likely thousands of shepherds were taking care of likely hundreds of thousands of sheep! How could just one shepherd lead and take care of all the sheep? It surely must have sounded like a radical idea.

What does Jesus mean by “one flock, one shepherd?” Later in John’s gospel, Jesus gives us insights into what he means concerning oneness among his followers.

John 17:20–23

20 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

For the sake of the subject of this blog—cross-cultural partnership—and in light of the fact that life on our planet has become dominated by globalization, consider this:

On the one hand, the benefits of globalization represented by the Internet and inexpensive air travel can be a great help in aiding the church in its unity and practice of cross-cultural partnership; it is simply so much easier to communicate today than just ten years ago. On the other hand, there is a risk that modern methods become an end in themselves … that Christian leaders rely too heavily on such things as management systems and marketing communications. This, in turn, undermines dependence on God and ultimately, the goal of Christian unity. It can be summed up by the words, “Amplified opportunity, amplified threat.”[1]

Amplified opportunity: Church history has never had the enormous advantages of the powerful global communications tools which globalization and the Internet afford us today. This blog is one of a billion examples. Could it be that globalization has given us communication tools to facilitate this “one flock, one shepherd” ideal of Jesus Christ—so that Christ’s plan for unity amidst diversity can be more fully realized than ever before in human history?

Therefore, in the light of God’s global purpose to bless all peoples
through the gospel of Christ, could it be that to ignore cross-cultural partnership
as a key method for world evangelization is to fail in stewarding
one of the greatest advantages the church has ever known?

Amplified threat: The features of globalization consist of such things as extremely powerful global communications … inexpensive air travel … market-based economic systems … and international cooperation by individuals (not just nations and corporations). You may ask, How is globalization a threat? Simply, this: I believe many Christians, myself included, are often seduced into thinking that these powerful tools are a substitute for relying on the leadership and provision of our Shepherd. But the Bible says there is a relational depth—a beauty, wisdom and effectiveness—that is available solely from following our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Could it be that those of us engaged in cross-cultural ministry partnerships
have to be extra intentional in listening to our Shepherd and to each other—
in order to guard against the default culture and inherent spiritual biases of self-reliance,
modern systems, and such practices as results-based management?

Consider the words of Mark 6:34: “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” Could it be that when Jesus sees us relying primarily on our modern technologies, global communications tools, management systems and fund-raising strategies—he sees us being technologically rich but spiritually poor? Could it be he sees us as “sheep without a shepherd?”

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1. The words “amplified opportunity, amplified threat” and related concepts are from an article by Os Guinness: “Mission modernity: Seven checkpoints on mission in the modern world” in Sampson, Samuel, and Sugden, Eds., Faith and Modernity (Oxford: Regnum Books, 1994).

Have we been invited?

I recently read this in Lesslie Newbigin’s The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission.

All thinking about the world mission of the church today must thankfully and joyfully take into account of the fact that the “home base” of missions is now nothing less than the worldwide community, and every proposed expression of the church’s missionary outreach must be tested by asking whether it can be accepted by the whole ecumenical family as an authentic expression of the gospel.

I wonder what would happen if all short-term mission efforts began with some simple questions? Do you want us to come? Will you accept our mission efforts? What a grand idea—to be asked to be accepted by the church community in a host country—instead of assuming that we are needed, we must go, and they must accommodate us. So many short-term mission efforts are done more for the experience of the goers, than for those who are supposedly being served. When one considers the billions being spent on just the jet fuel for short-term missions, we need to seriously ask, What are the strategic long term benefits?

There is a huge need for training in short-term missions and partnership with indigenous ministries. This is why Mission ONE has developed The Beauty of Partnership learning journey. Would you like to join the journey with us?