The world has moved on and changed much. At the turn of the last century, it was North-Western centric in terms of economy, wealth as well as Christian presence. Within the last 100 years, there is a steady shift in the center of gravity of Christian presence from the North-Western to the East and South. It seems that the shift of the center of gravity of Christian presence has also been accompanied by an apparent shift in the economy and wealth distribution. The up and coming giants now are China and India while the West is facing great difficulties in lifting their economies.
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Since the center of gravity of Christian presence has shifted to the South and East, it is essential to develop a thorough strategy and network in order to capture its full potential for missions and ministry. In my opinion, all forms of missions and ministry are dependent on three main ingredients, namely, faith and prayer, human resource, and finance. I do not wish to be simplistic in this assertion. Having started the Anglican Village Ministries and served for more than 15 years in inaugurating new mission initiatives, I sincerely believe that careful planning and obedience to the Lord’s Calling is the best way forward.
1.0 Faith and Prayer
The most basic ingredient in any Christian ministry is the Call of the Lord. The voice of the Lord “FOLLOW ME and I will make you fishers of men” must be our guiding light. I have no doubt and fully believed that everyone is called by God especially in the Great Commission – Go (Mt 28:19). What I am advocating here is the personal conscious response to the affirmed realization of one’s personal encounter with the Lord, such as the Call to the Unknown of Abraham – “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and GO….”; the Call of Confrontation of Moses – “I am sending you to Pharaoh”; the Call of Honor of David – “Rise and Anoint him, he is the one”; the Marching Order of Isaiah “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”; the Call of Transformation of Paul – “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, … now get up … and you will be told what you must do … to carry my Name before the gentiles and kings and the people of Israel”.
1.1 Mission and Ministry is a Calling– We are into the Lord’s mission and this cannot be done without a Calling. It is not a job waiting to be done. It is not a task awaiting its completion. So many so-called missions work end up just like any other charity body because they lack the essential ingredient of the Calling. Generally we can recognize four categories or types of ‘mission’ workers.
Type A (Acting) – The person has a Calling but did not step out in Faith to act. This type of person usually talks a lot and complains a lot but without fruit and results. He talks to start but does not last the pace. He is probably this first one to run away when he faces difficulty.
Type B (Blind) – The person has no Calling but did step out in Faith to act. This type of person is also found in the mission field but he has no idea of his Calling or did not receive any Calling. He responded and joined the mission mainly because he has the knowledge and thinks that it is the best way forward. He sincerely believes that this is what the Lord wants for him. Usually little fruit can be seen even when he tries very hard. He often wonders why others can easily get the results and not him.
Type C (Complacent) – The person has no Calling and did not step out in Faith to act. Obviously, these people will not be near any mission field and they will not get any result at all.
Type D (Determined) – The person has the Calling and did step out in Faith to act. Boom! These people will see great results and fruits. These are the people who normally got their names quoted and written into some books or records.
Of course, the above is too simplified. There are many other aspects which we should also take into consideration such as the person’s training, character, willingness, obedience, opportunity, privilege, etc.
1.2 Mission and Ministry is a Life Style– The mission and ministry of the Lord cannot be taken lightly as an employment. It is a Life Style. One must walk, talk, play, dream, sleep, eat and rest with mission and ministry. This means a worker of the Lord will only have one Life Style and does not have split personality – i.e. one type of personality in church and another at work. The continuing process of training, looking forward, consistent prayer, unceasing pursuit of equipping, staying the course etc; is crucial for God’s Ministry.
‘No fish can swim without water’. Similarly, no real mission can be sustained without prayers. Private prayer and prayer supports are so essential that no mission worker can do without it. There are at least six reasons to pray.
- We pray for protection against evil attacks. We are into a spiritual battle not against flesh and blood but against powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12).
- We pray for God’s leading and guidance to journey with Him in His Will that the workers of the Lord will lead a life worthy of the Lord (Col 1:10) “Not my will but your will be done.”
- We pray for open doors and souls to be ready to hear God’s word and respond favorably to Him (Col 4:3).
- We pray for more workers go to the Lord’s harvest (Matt 9:38).
- We pray for vision, passion, love, hope and zeal for the lost souls and the enlightenment of the workers of the Lord (Eph 1:18).
- We pray for churches to support and stand with the workers of the Lord’s harvest (Eph 6:18).
1.3 Missions and Ministry is a Service– Too many people take Missions and Ministry as a career and that does not bring JOY at all. Anything done without joy will not please God because it usually does not come from a willing heart. The result will be poor and disastrous because it makes rooms for in-fighting, strife, dissension, division, sabotage, clamoring for fame-name-power. We have seen these things over and over again throughout history in the Christian Churches.
The shorter version of the Westminster catechism states “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”.
We need to enjoy God in all that we do including service. How can this be? The one open secret is the notion – TO BE LIKE CHRIST. The Be-ing is so important that many people are 50cm off from the target i.e. the distance from the head and the heart. Many have the Knowledge and Skill but miss the Be-ing. To Be is to involve the body, soul and spirit. The total person must be immersed into Christ. This call for a personal encounter with God the Holy Spirit is so essential for all of us in order for us to see and experience a break-through in all that we are and do. Many so-called faithful Christians just lack the “one thing” in their lives. They are just like the Rich Young Ruler who left Jesus with a heavy heart, after Jesus told him that he lacked one thing – to sell everything and give to the poor (Lk 18:22). Our Lord Jesus is telling the Rich Young Ruler (and includes us) to BE like Him i.e. to get involved with His business without the entanglement of the world’s wealth or power. He is told to be freed from entanglement and to enjoy Jesus and follow Him forever. There must be the Willingness of heart. Ananias and Sapphira did sell their land and offered a portion of the proceeds of the sale to God, through Peter; but unfortunately there was no joy and no willingness of heart in them and resulted in lying (Act 5).
1.4 Shared Ministry
a. The Global South churches need to come together and develop a Prayer Network where we can learn from and pray for one another. Stories and Mission models can be shared and made known to each other. The modern technology of computer and internet has made our proposal easier to achieve. The main problem of such a prayer network is the lack of contents and prayer items. People normally get excited initially and will gradually fade away into the background in silent mode. One of the ways to overcome such a dilemma is to have each church first create a diocesan or provincial prayer cycle bulletin and then have it shared with each other, around the globe.
b. We also need to share resources and materials with each other. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. The Gospel that we received is free and it has come to us freely. Therefore, it is utmost important to educate every child of God that it is absolutely wrong to keep the Gospel to ourselves as our own right and property. Since it has come to us freely, it must be given freely to all whom we come into contact with. The world will be different if all the churches are willing to share the Gospel with each other freely especially with the poorer ones.
2.0 Human Resource
There is a common saying, “No boat can sail without water.” In like manner, there will be no mission and ministry without workers. Even our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray to the Lord of Harvest and to send laborers to the harvest field.
I have observed one very interesting traditional phenomenon throughout the centuries; that is that churches tend to have the idea of church planting means to first get a brick building. This is done irrespective of whether there is a congregation or not. We should not repeat this sort of practice ever again. If we want to see mission and ministry then we must first get or raise the workers. Both Jesus and Paul themselves, have raised many workers and leaders in their ministries. It is a costly, tedious and troublesome affair to raise workers and leaders. It is so easy to employ someone which others have trained. One of the reasons why churches do not grow is due to their short-sightedness in human resource.
2.1 Training of Workers
The raising and training of workers should be the largest portion in our church financial budget. Sadly, this is often not so in our present churches. If a church does not train her members and raise her workers of her own, this church is declining and awaiting its closure. A church which does not raise her own workers is not a healthy church and has forgone her right of existence and influence. This means she will not have the next generation. Training and raising workers should be an on-going process right from the first day of its inception.
It would be excellent if our churches can develop some of our own training schools. There is also a great advantage if we can share training resources among different dioceses and provinces from the Global South. There should be different levels of training.
- Training for ordained ministry, such as seminaries and theological colleges; either full-time or distant learning.
- Training for lay ministry, such as diocesan courses, theological education by extension, short courses, specialized courses, etc.
- Training for specialists, such as a School of Mission, School of Counseling, School of Music, School of Evangelism, School of Social Concern, School of Prophetic Ministry, etc.
We need to remove from our churches the mentality of having imported missionaries to pastor our churches. In many places, perhaps we still need missionaries to train our people with the view that in the near future these trained local people will take over.
2.2 Sending Workers
Mission workers are still needed in new mission frontiers. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” The many unreached people groups will need many more willing workers. Having raised the workers, we need to send them out to the mission field. It is most appropriate to believe the Biblical Promise – “It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35). The sending churches are strangely blessed and will usually experience positive growth. Paul and Barnabas were top leaders in the Antioch Church and they were sent out into the mission field. Without her best leaders, the Antioch church still continued to grow in strength and numbers throughout the first three centuries.
Our churches have in the past received many missionaries from the West and the North. It is high time for the Global South Churches to send workers into the new frontiers as well as to the North-Western world. I strongly encourage that the mission workers should be involved in the Training of workers and leaders.
To many mission workers, finance is the greatest obstacle. The phrase ‘No Money No Talk’ seems to be taking its toll among Christian mission and ministry.
One of the greatest challenges of the Global South Churches is to be recognized as self-reliant and self-supporting. Usually the first thing the churches will cut is the mission budget especially when they are still non-self supporting. There are a few suggestions I would like to make here. They come about from my own experience with the Anglican Village Ministries.
- Teach stewardship as an expression of worship.
- Teach sharing of resources. Giving is a blessing and it pleases God.
- Develop micro-economic projects. At the beginning we need to share financial resources for such projects. (Another session in this conference will be dealing with this in detail.)
- Minimize the giving of hand-outs unless necessary. Encourage ownership and earning with own efforts.
- Prepare and target the next generation through teaching and equipping & training.
3.2 Mutual Assistance
Global South Churches must work together in mutual co-operation in all the aspects for church development. For example:
- Scenario 1 – Mission workers of Diocese B are sent to pioneer new frontiers in Diocese A.
- Scenario 2 – Diocese A raises its own workers and sends to them to Diocese B for training with the support of Diocese B with the view to the trained workers returning to Diocese A for service.
- Scenario 3 – Diocese B sends trainers to Diocese A to train its workers and leaders.
We must avoid a dependency mentality. Even if there is a need for financial support, it should be done in a way consistent with the law of diminishing support.
Links and Companionship perhaps is a better way forward – two or three dioceses linking together or creating a companion relationship for mission and ministry. Today’s world is a global village and the mobility of people is rapid. People do travel frequently. We can capitalize on this and promote mission trips and awareness between dioceses and provinces. It must be a two way parallel affair where both are on the same playing field. We can encourage more East and South links. The same can be promoted for theological training. Instead of sending our students to the North and West for training, we can explore the new adventure of training in the East and South. I can identify a few factors of benefit.
- It is cheaper to have our students trained in the East and South.
- It is safer to have them trained in the East and the South.
- It is culturally closer and there are similar values for our people between the East and the South.
- It does help to promote closer ties between the East and the South.
- It would help face similar challenges of emerging nations and religious resurgence, such as the problem of Islamisation and political tyrants.
The Global South Churches can network together.
- Diocese to diocese links and companions.
- Develop a Global South Prayer Network by featuring region by region or province by province.
- Sharing of resources in terms of materials, modules, models, stories, etc. by pasting them into the website for downloading.
- Sharing of Human resources in terms of training of workers, sending and receiving of workers, going to new mission frontiers, long and short term mission etc.
- Mutual Assistance with the aim of creating self-reliance in all the Global South dioceses through micro-economic projects and East-South investments.
- Encouraging lay professionals to take up tent-making ministry.
- Joint projects in social caring mission and ministry.
Questions for Discussions
- What are the commonalities between the East and South churches? How can we foster greater working relationship with these churches? What are the stumbling blocks and how can we overcome them? What are the common challenges?
- Why do Christians not reach out and do mission and evangelism? Give 5 reasons. What concrete steps can this conference propose to overcome this problem in our dioceses?
- Are our parishioners following the vision and plans of our diocese? Why? What benefit does the discussions and policy of the Global South Encounter have on the parishioners in the pews?
- How useful is a Prayer Network for the Global South Churches? Can you suggest some ways to improve it? Knowing that the Global South does not have an office to run such Network, in what ways would you propose to the Global South leaders consider?
- How can a diocese to diocese companion link help in the concept of self-reliance? What are the financial implications in sending and receiving workers and training them? How does the sending church benefit from this link?
The Anglican Village Ministries (AVM) was started in 1993 in the State of Perak in Malaysia initially within the Chinese rural villages. It was extended to the Orang Asli (native) kampungs or villages, and then to the Indian urban poor. In 2010, it has reached 10 Chinese rural villages, 35 Orang Asli kampungs and 1 Indian urban squatter area.