Recently I have been chatting with folk about how mission is changing. The context for mission overseas has changed considerably and we need to begin to understand what that means in terms of how we send people and funds into those contexts. Mission consultant T.J. Addington cites seven global shifts in how churches in the west should look at mission involvement.[i] Most of these shifts concern how we relate to each other across cultures.

Addington suggests our western mission involvement must move:

  • “From being primarily doers to primarily equippers”.

This is happening in many of our traditional mission fields. In Papua New Guinea, India, Africa and the Philippines the need is one of equipping and empowering, coming alongside locals to up skill and mentor them. This is where local churches on these fields want help. That doesn’t mean that ‘doing’ has finished, except that if we go to ‘do’ we should expect that we will be equipping and releasing locals to do what we have gone to ‘do’ (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Question: How could this ‘equipping’ focus change the way we carry out short term mission and the way we ‘send’ people longer term?

  • “From being in charge to being equal partners”.

A new attitude and mind-set is needed for mission in this changing context. We need to recognise that growth and taking responsibility occurs when we allow local people to take responsibility. It’s not easy to let go of control and yet if we are serious about partnership and growth we will allow others to be equal partners. We once operated in a ‘father-son’ relationship. It’s now time to operate in ‘brother-brother, sister-brother’ relationships.

Question: Can you describe what a ‘father-son’ relationship is and then describe what a ‘brother-brother’ relationship might look like?

  • “From ownership and control to ‘we own nothing, control nothing and count nothing as our own’”.

What we have is God’s to use. This shift is one of the hardest to make. We are to serve with an open hand.

Question: What might this shift achieve?

  • “From western missionaries to global missionaries”.

The boundaries of mission have changed. Our country is full of immigrants from diverse parts of the world. Mission happens just as much in our street as it does in a far off country. Learning to receive as well as give is part of the new context of mission. This does not negate the ‘sending and sent’ nature of the local church or believer. There are still 2 billion people who have no access to the gospel in any way.

Question: How could this shift affect your mission focus as an individual and as a church?

  • “From unhealthy dependencies to indigenous self-sufficiency and promotion of dignity”

There is a growing emphasis on seeking to help local ministries to be self-supporting through income generating projects. This empowers local believers in mission in sustainable ways. Bright Hope World NZ is seeking to help those who cannot help themselves using sustainable approaches. Providing relief is temporary and creates dependency, promoting development leads to indigenous self-sufficiency and dignity.

Explore this issue: Watch this short video

 Question: How could your mission giving promote indigenous self-sufficiency and dignity?

Go to this website for further resources.

  • “From competition to co-operation”.

If we really believe in the concept of the ‘body of Christ’ we will seek to be interdependent. Each part cannot do without the other. We are better together than alone. GC3 is not competing with other agencies or churches. Our desire is to help you and your church be more effective in mission. We would love to come alongside you to help you develop your mission focus.

Question: In what ways could your mission efforts be more co-operative and interdependent?

  • “From agency based missions to church-agency synergy”.

The vision for missions belongs first to the local church, not to mission agencies. Missions that thrive in the future will be those that serve the mission vision of the local church, down your street and around the world. GC3 exists to serve our network of churches and mission partners in this way. We offer efficient forwarding and cost effective transfer of funds to mission partners. We have a pastoral concern for your mission partners and can help you with resources to improve this area. We offer a facilitated mission assessment profile (MAP) that gets your church mission team and leadership in a conversation about mission and establishes action plans so you can be more effective as a church. We can come and preach on mission or coach your missions team. We provide a gap year called ‘Headspace’ for young people so that God’s mission captivates their hearts.

Question: What could GC3 do to help you?

Please use this blog as a conversation starter for your leadership or missions team. We would like to hear from you. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Russell Thorp, GC3 Missions Director

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