An incomplete manifesto for cross-cultural missions in the emerging post-modern culture

The is an incomplete document that gets added to from time to time. I’m glad there are a lot of folks around the world who are changing the way things were done.

Connection and Partnership
Make getting to know people more important than doing your program.

Start building friendships

Go meet a brother or sister in Christ from Zimbabwe or Mongolia or somewhere else. They may even be living next door. The world is small enough, what are you waiting for.

See the Body of Christ

The Church is worldwide. Few countries may claim they are without a witness. If we ignore where the church is and move ahead with our own agenda, seeking to plant our own kind of churches, we are not discerning the body of Christ.

Risk getting in trouble with establishment

Jesus got in trouble because he was hanging out with the wrong crowd. Be like him.

Be in tune with the global culture

In Bangkok, Berlin and Brazzaville they’re listening to the same music, watching the same movies and buying the same clothes. Discern what ties the world together and subvert when necessary.

Let information flow…

We live in the age of networks. The structure of a network serves one purpose – facilitate the flow of information. Therefore structures like church buildings, mission agencies ect. should be flexible and scaleable always serving the flow of information.

The problem with modern missions is exactly that…
A new world demands new ways of doing things. In the last 200 years the good news of Jesus Christ has spread around the world, catching a ride on the ships that would extend empires. We need to rethink missions in light of today’s world. The times have changed and missions must follow.

Stop seeing missions as an adventure
Seeing different countries is fun. You take a few photos of famous places then return home and say, “I was there.” Cross-cultural mission isn’t adventure. It isn’t about conquering unknown worlds.

Start seeing missions as pilgrimage
Throw out the idea of a short-term mission and jump into the idea of a pilgrimage. Give and receive, teach and learn.

Colonial imperialism is dead, why do we still propagate it?
The Colonial Empires were built on the assumption that their way of life was the ‘right way’. By going to other lands and peoples and teaching them about the ‘right way’ they were making them civilized. It also meant that the homeland would be enriched by the natural resources discovered in far away places. An overly simplistic view? Probably. Far from the truth of what churches and missions agencies do in the name of the Gospel? Less than we’d like to think.
Too often the ‘right way’ is our culturally biased theology and forms of church. The natural resources are the souls that we win. The result is churches warped by an ideal that is not theirs and overly dependant on the ‘homeland’.

Banish the terms of ‘mission fields’ and ‘sending countries’
Those terms are just nice ways of saying ‘colony’ and ‘homeland’.

Give out of your abundance
The Bible is clear, some have a lot others have little. We are all to give out of our abundance.

Start asking, ‘What is our weakness?’
If we accept that we are called to give out of our abundance then we need to accept that we must receive something because of our weakness.

Money isn’t the only thing we can give and receive
The abundance and need talked about in the Bible is not a financial equation. The model is that of Christ who out of his riches gave to us… Maybe we have needs that only the believers in France or China can meet…

Listen carefully
Figure out ways of learning about your weaknesses and finding other parts of the Body of Christ that can meet your need.

Get behind the scenes
Support and lift of those you are working with. Make a name for them and not yourself.

Work through existing structures
If the Body of Christ is present, help it. Don’t start something new that is already being done.

Appearances are deceiving
Never think that God is not at work, sometimes you just can’t see what he is doing. Take the time to wait and see what he is up to.

Get the missionary out of the middle
Missionaries have and important role but when they become the only channel of information from one part of the Body to another, you’re in trouble.

Learn a foreign language
Show some respect for the Body of Christ. Don’t expect everyone to learn your language.

Avoiding doing things that others can do
Being a part of the Body means everyone has a function. Know yours.

Stop doing things out of necessity and guilt
God invites us to work with him. Do what he wants, when he wants and you’ll find life a whole lot more enjoyable.