Over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mike Stroope and others, looking at issues in western mission and how we might move forward. One of the outcomes of these conversations is this confession and plea which has been published today.
Mission movements and organisations are hugely varied and, in my experience here in South America, the overwhelming majority of mission work here is not done by traditional agencies. Nevertheless issues of money, control and power remain embedded in much western mission activity whether done through agencies or not.
In the various conversations about the future that are taking place there is a recognition that we need a more rounded global dialogue, in which westerners neither control the agenda nor who gets invited. My hope is that this document plays a part in challenging those of us from ‘sending’ environments to think carefully about who we are, what we do and be humble in partnering with others around the world.
I’ll blog more about this in days to come but for now here is the statement released today:
Confession and Invitation
The message of Jesus has spread around the world, and yet, the gospel of the kingdom has yet to reach everyone, everywhere. While the Western mission enterprise has played a significant role in the more recent spread of the gospel, changes in its assumptions and practices are long overdue and absolutely necessary.
With humility and an attitude of sincere repentance, we acknowledge the need to shift from aggressive, consumerist, and even denigrating language, assumptions, and actions that have become norms in the life and mission of the Western church. We know that to participate in the coming kingdom of God, we must be continually transformed in our words and actions. To this end, we confess our need for deep change and invite, even plead, for others to join us.
We resolve to choose …
- Identity and practice based in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, over uncritical adoption of modern techniques and programs;
- Ministry rooted in Scripture and the dynamics of authentic relationships, rather than strategies developed from the logic of efficiency and effectiveness;
- Discipleship focused on depth of character and Christ-like practices, rather than a fixation on activities and methods;
- Belief that each person regardless of ethnic, national, or cultural origin is an image-bearer of God with different and needed gifts within the body of Christ, instead of mere means for some predetermined end;
- Power that comes from waiting on the Holy Spirit and servanthood, rather than through the forces of money, organization, and political alignments;
- Influence based on a commitment to people and their context, rather than financial ties or control and domination;
- Passion that translates into long-term relationships and sustained prayer, over seasonal, short-term endeavors and trips;
- Projects based on collective decision-making, over unbalanced financial relationships, power boundaries, and unilateral actions;
- Partnerships that allow a seat at the table for every partner and yields the microphone to each voice, rather than meetings convened solely on our terms, agendas, and timelines;
- Love characterized by sacrifice and suffering alongside others, rather than protection of our rights in the name of doctrine, standards, and national interests; and
- The Reign of God that touches every corner of life and society, rather than a religion that is narrow in scope and individualistic in its concerns.
We hope and pray that as these changes mark the people of God, the Spirit will ignite witness and Jesus Christ will be known, loved, and worshiped.
If you would like to join in with this conversation we offer three invitations:
- We invite you to read our Confession and Invitation and then forward its link to friends and colleagues. The original is here: https://medium.com/@mikestroope/confession-and-invitation-a7db8f5b88b3 — or share it via the social media links on this site.
- We invite you to add your name to the Confession and Invitation by sending your request and name to firstname.lastname@example.org
- We invite you to join us and like-minded people for a Workshop Gathering, Saturday, April 27th, (9:00am to 5:00pm) in Arlington, Texas. We will review the 11 statements in the Confession and Invitation and then work to create new initiatives and actionable objectives for change in each of these areas. The cost for the Gathering is only $10 (lunch). In order to reserve your place at the Gathering, send your name, organization, and contact information to email@example.com by April 12th. In return you will receive a confirmation note, logistical information, and preparation materials. Space is limited, so register today.