"Exploring a balanced approach to Global Mission: Holistic Sustainable Community Development alongside Church Planting".
Which aspect of the Global Mission should we focus on? ? What's the best approach in reaching our goals? In business terms, what's the best ROI (Return on Investment) by conducting global mission as a church or Christian organisation?
The issue of how best to approach global mission work in the 21st Century has been the most important topic of conversation with missionaries and leaders of organisations around the world. This is certainly true particularly in Asia. The discussion has been circulating around whether to focus on community development (empowering the poor) or planting churches (seeing people won to Christ and creating disciples). A debate such as this would be a highly charged, contentious and therefore a crucial issue to tackle.
I'm told that in North America, 90% of the mission dollars donated are allocated towards helping the poor. There's no doubt that helping the poor is vital. And creative ways of not providing handouts, but rather teaching people to create support systems who help not only themselves, but also one another has proven to be the most effective way of helping the less fortunate..
But what about the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20? Where does that fit in? What should we be focussing upon? Isn't it Jesus’ priority to see disciples formed who will go out and make more disciples?
My answer and the answer from Asian Outreach Australia is: both, not either/or. What do I mean by this? I believe that to genuinely empower people and see authentic transformation we need to see people being healthy in every aspect of their lives. This includes their physical, financial, mental, social, emotional and spiritual areas. To do so we can't simply apply ‘band aid’ approaches to Global Mission; we need to approach our commission from the Lord holistically, sustainably and transformatively.
So, we must focus on doing good for people as well as seeing the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom. If we keep this focus when partnering with local people for global missions across the world, and especially in Asia, we will see genuine transformational conversion and effective discipleship.
These new disciples then share the Gospel of the Kingdom with family, friends, fellow villagers, colleagues or neighbours. We believe this provides a fulfilment to both Jesus Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40). It also confirms that
“preaching to the poor”, spoken in Luke 4:18 & 19, means more than simply winning souls for eternity. It means seeing the Kingdom of God becoming a living reality in individuals, families, communities and nations.
What do you think about focussing on both rather than one or the other? Share your thoughts with us.
Rev Dr Brian Birkett
Executive Director and Partner Relationship Manager
Asian Outreach Australia