PARTNERS IN THE GOSPEL
From the “Three Selves” to “Partnership” 1850 1875 1900 1925 1950 1975 2000 “Three Selves” “Partner-ship”
“Three Selves” of Venn and Anderson (1850) 1850 1875 Churches should be • Self-supporting • Self-propagating • Self-governing
“Euthanasia of Mission” The mission is the scaffolding; the church is the building.
“The Nevius Plan” John Nevius (1890) 1850 1875 1900 Emphasized: • Self-support from the very beginning • Aggressive Sunday school program for training unpaid leaders
“Nevius plan” was applied by first Presbyterian missionaries to Korea in 1890s.
Roland Allen (1912) 1850 1875 1900 1925
“By supplying what they cannot supply, we check them in the proper impulse to supply what they can supply.”
Allen’s Proposal: 1. simple organization 2. reproducible teaching methods 3. local funding 4. mutual responsibility in the churches from the start 5. full authorization of local churches at their inception to use the gifts of the Spirit had distributed within body.
World War II (1939-1945) 1850 1875 1900 1925 1950
Church Growth Movement (1960-1980) 1850 1875 1900 1925 1950 1975
“Moratorium” on missionaries from the West (1975) 1850 1875 1900 1925 1950 1975 2000
Restructuring for “partnership” (1980s-1990s) 1. How can missionaries, local churches and sending churches work together organizationally? 2. How can they partner in evangelism? 3. How can they partner financially? 4. How can they partner in Bible training?
Restructuring for “partnership” (1980s-1990s) • How can missionaries, local churches and sending churches work together organizationally? • Shepherding
Restructuring for “partnership” (1980s-1990s) 2. How can they partner in evangelism? Evangelism
Restructuring for “partnership” (1980s-1990s) 3. How can they partner financially? Stewardship
Restructuring for “partnership” (1980s-1990s) 4. How can they partner in Bible training? Bible training
Restructuring for “partnership” (1980s-1990s) Shepherding Evangelism Stewardship Bible training
Shepherding 1. At the local level, some common hindrances to appointing elders: a. Polygamy b. Commitment to “plurality of elders” prevented them from considering cluster elders
Shepherding c. Missionaries too involved in process, rather than setting up a mechanism that would function without them. d. Missionaries too content with defacto, assumed leaders.
Shepherding 2. At the association level a. Missionary centered organization b. “Clusters”
Evangelism 1. Near-church evangelism (by unpaid evangelists). 2. Far-flung evangelism (by missionaries). 3. Few urban churches.
Urban Evangelism in Africa 1. Shouldn’t we target major cities assuming that influence flows from the city to rural areas, not vice versa?
Urban Evangelism in Africa a. Questioning the assumption b. Resolving the debate between urban or rural: we need both
Strategizing for cities Urban strategy must take into account five problems that complicate urban ministry in the “South.” 1) The fast pace of urbanization
2) Over-urbanization 3) Urban “schizophrenia” 4) Transient populations 5) Urban poverty
Stewardship 1. Missionaries adhered to strict self-support in beginning to avoid dependency problem where: a. The local agenda is set by outsiders b. Progress locally is dependent upon outside funds.
Stewardship c. Foreign-salaried preachers are not free to innovate. d. Self-image and community image is diminished. e. Local value systems suffer long-term damage. f. What may have been intended as short-term assistance becomes long-term addiction.
Stewardship 1. Subsidized church buildings (under pressure from government)
2. Some built “training centers” with American funds. 3. Most did little or no teaching on giving
Bible Training The debate: how large a base of churches is needed before systematic, formal Bible training begins? a. Establish large base: do on-the-job training. b. Establish small base: do formal leadership training (LTE) early on.
Time has exposed the weaknesses on both sides: a. Large base = poorly educated leaders b. Small base = stunted growth?
Missionaries’ recommendations: 1. Involve nationals in decision-making from the start. 2. Introduce more formal modes of education sooner.
Missionaries’ recommendations: 3. Don’t cling to rigid phase-out time tables. 4. Plant urban churches, too.
1. Give attention to infrastructure development from the beginning. a. Local level 1) Teach on church organization early 2) Advise on mechanism for appointing elders 3) Get out of the way
b. Association level 1) Need to replace “local church autonomy” with healthier understanding of cooperation 2) Need to encourage some means of cooperation 3) Need to encourage church-to-church relationships between national churches and missionaries’ sponsors
2. Clarify the role of missionaries. a. Missionary roles change as churches mature: 1) Initial stage: pioneer 2) Established stage: parent 3) Independent stage: partner 4) Mature stage: participant
c. Build relationships between sponsors and national churches in order to: 1) Reinforce the church-centered organizational model to replace the missionary-centered model 2) Reduce the nationals’ feeling of isolation 3) Minimize the loss of trust between missionaries and nationals
3. Prepare for transition. a. Missionaries need to plan all along for their departure, even if they never intend to leave. b. Need forums for joint decision-making with nationals early on c. Need to develop “structures of continuity” in cooperation with national leaders. • Elders meetings (Americans and Africans) • “Parachurch” projects
4. Think “ownership,” not just indigeneity. Missionaries often locked into “either/or” thinking on “indigeneity.” Indigenous = nationalized? Indigenous = traditional? Indigenous = ownership!
“Ownership” • Ownership and partnership not mutually exclusive. • Ownership does not preclude financial partnership as long as sound principles are applied and dependency avoided.
“Ownership”: How to help without hurting 1) Funds should only be given for projects that can be maintained locally. 2) Aid given by foreign partners should be tied to what locals have already given.