I have been asking our staff for feedback on what they wish their supporting churches understood about missions today. One of these was posted on July 5 and was read by a huge number of people. This response also comes from a younger generation of missionaries who are grappling with the changing context of missions globally as well as in the church in the United States. His insights are helpful.

The reason I share these insights is that unless we get the dance right between local churches, missionaries they support and those they are serving internationally we create complications for the mission endeavor. Dialogue and careful thought about how we do what we do in missions is deeply needed today. Here are his thoughts.

"Their sincere generosity (money, short-term teams, etc.) can actually do unintended harm by creating dependency and undermining local sustainability (as addressed very well in Toxic Charity and When Helping Hurts). Not all financial gifts or short-term teams are helpful to local ministry, and they should not be expected to direct or dictate the ministry of a long-term missionary.

"Different regions of the world have different challenges that need to be addressed differently. One size really doesn’t fit all.

"Being involved in regional multiplication as a facilitator, trainer, coach can actually be a MORE EFFECTIVE way to church plant, even if the missionary isn’t involved in one specific church plant as a leader.

"Short-term teams simply do not have the same impact as on-the-ground missionaries or local partners and such short-term teams often do not adequately understand the long-term needs of a given people

"Mission committees have a tendency to shift directions depending on current leadership and members’ interests; the result is that long-term missionaries can be left with unstable partnerships with U.S. churches.

"Local church accountability needs to happen in the context of a caring, committed relationship that believes the best, not just as an administrative task to make sure missionaries don’t screw up.

"Because of the potential for missionary mobility in the modern world, I would encourage church’s to focus more on supporting gifted missionaries instead of supporting people based on their specific location.

"Not everything that looks green is healthy or sustainable (much of Latin America’s evangelical growth).

"Places with little spiritual fruit need missionaries and patience (Western Europe and the Islamic World). There is no harvest if there is no sowing.

"Good ministries and teams require supported missionaries in leadership. This is not just an administrative waste.

"Most missionaries are not low-level “interns” but highly trained and experienced professionals who are a tremendous resource to the America church as partners.

"Let us know what gifts and unique skills/resources you have available within your congregation. Then we can better know ways to partner that will really matter."

See also
Sticker shock in missions
We will not support you as a missionary because...
Missionary support team building: very tough work
Holistic missions: Cautions and opportunities

  • Jul 13, 2012
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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