A monthly update from Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission, on the impact of Presbyterian mission in the world and the issues that affect mission co-workers, the people we walk with and assist in service to God, and our partners around the globe.
The difference was like night and day
Just four years ago, I heard Fletcher Wright, a well-respected professional in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the chair of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church Mission Council, state flatly that large congregations like Myers Park had little need of Presbyterian World Mission: “We have our own mission programs,” he said to a group of large-congregation pastors and mission leaders, “and, as World Mission is currently structured, it can add very little value to our mission work.”
That was one of the more painful “listening groups” I participated in during World Mission’s 2010–2011 work on a new strategic direction that put PC(USA) congregations—both large and small—at the heart of its work. Since the days of the Board of Foreign Missions, World Mission had engaged in international mission on behalf of the denomination. With increased global travel and communications, however, the world has flattened, revealing a new landscape where today our congregations generate more prayer, send more dollars and mobilize more people for God’s mission than any denominational office could do—including World Mission!
So is Fletcher’s assessment of World Mission as irrelevant to his congregation’s mission work true today? World Mission staff and our mission workers put a lot of time, prayer and effort in listening to congregations and understanding their hopes and dreams—and their needs—and working with them to increase the congregations’ effectiveness and faithfulness.
Last fall, Fletcher and his wife, Anne, hosted a reception for World Mission in their home. At the close of the evening, Fletcher said, “The changes World Mission has made in its structure and work have made it an invaluable partner for our congregation. In the absence of their guidance and assistance on the ground, often more damage would be done than benefits derived.” The same is proving true for average-size and smaller congregations. What value does World Mission bring to enhance congregations’ global mission work? Here’s what congregational mission leaders are saying:
- A robust, Reformed theology of mission: Congregations value World Mission’s understanding of mission and view it as consistent with our denomination’s valuing of human dignity and working in partnership.
- “Treetop” perspective: World Mission is connected to hundreds of congregational mission efforts and can help congregations connect with others who share their mission passion to better coordinate their work.
- Language and cultural expertise: In what congregations experience as the complex reality of global mission with its inherent barriers of language, culture and history, many congregations find World Mission’s tool kit to be extremely useful to their mission engagement. World Mission’s expertise includes extensive cultural proficiency, mastery of 37 languages (spoken by a total of more than 4 billion people on 6 continents) and highly developed skills in coaching for cross-cultural communication and conflict.
- Access to knowledge based on mission history: World Mission can help congregations access critically important knowledge from our long mission history (both best practices to emulate and costly mistakes to avoid). For example, World Mission can help congregations avoid unhealthy dependencies, avoid “mission as financial transaction” and develop a prudent “exit strategy” before new work is initiated.
- Enhanced accountability: With 178 years of mission relationships, World Mission can introduce congregations to a network of trustworthy relationships with global partners, share systems of mutual accountability and help congregations engage mission workers to enhance mutual accountability.
- Capacity to inspire, convene and lead powerful coalitions for change: World Mission can inspire congregations to give, pray, advocate and engage in significant ways and to join with others in more effective, broad-based coalitions.
All these gifts, by God’s grace, are yours as Presbyterians working together in God’s global mission. To see how your congregation can engage more faithfully and effectively, contact Ellen Sherby and the Equipping for Mission Involvement team (email@example.com, 800-728-7228 x5612).
Mission Matters Archives
July 2015 - What Would It Take to Change the World? Part III
June 2015 - What Would It Take to Change the World? Part II
May 2015 - Mission Co-workers Need Your Prayers and Financial Support
April 2015 - What Would It Take to Change the World?
March 2015 - The Church You Grew Up In No Longer Exists
December 2014 - A Harvest Beyond Our Wildest Dreams
November 2014 - Both Bricks and Mortar
October 2014 - Binding Threads
July 2014 - Abound in Hope: the 221st General Assembly (2014)
May 2014 - Training Leaders for Community Transformation
April 2014 - Ending Violence against Women and Children
March 2014 - 3 Critical Global Issues—#1: Quality education for 1 million children by 2020
February 2014 - CEDEPCA: Caring for God's Creation
January 2014 - Young Adult Volunteers: New YAV Sites Opening
December 2013 - We are truly better together
November 2013 - South Sudanese: Displaced by violence
October 2013 - Haiti: the Presbyterian Church is here to stay
We love to hear ways to engage more young people in mission as a way to draw them closer to the church. they really do seem to have to have something meaningful to do. They do not come to church if there is nothing for them to do. Thanks for your great work.
thanks Hunter for great message!
Thank you my dear Brother for the Work you and the World Mission Board are doing. May the Lord continue to open many new doors for Us. Amen.