If You Want to Go Fast Go Alone

If You Want to Go Fast Go Alone

Originally posted at Dining With Sinners

I recently attended a conference dubbed as “The largest gathering of church planters in the world.” But as I looked around the main conference sessions, the world’s church planters looked just like me – white, middle class, Western. What this “world’s largest gathering of church planters” missed was the development of networks of mutual exchange between multiple centers of influence.

I shared this concern with a friend. While he agreed that we all could us the kind of impulse that would come from learning from the Two-Thirds world, he qualified his agreement by stating that most people would probably have not attended a conference where someone spoke through a translator and talked about things from a different culture. Is he right? Can the church in the United States continue to give without receiving?

Scott McKnight, in a recent article on the Our of Ur blog, gives four reasons as to why we do not care about global missions citing the American churches’ silence around the The Cape Town Commitment (CTC). His reasons are worth quoting at length.

First, the silence about the CTC reflects America’s insularity and willful choice to ignore anything that is produced by Christians from other parts of the world. We talk universal church, we talk global church, and we participate in missionary work, but the lack of attention to this incredible unifying statement reflects that what comes from elsewhere belongs elsewhere.

Second, the silence about the CTC reflects American evangelicalism’s numbness about the vibrancy of gospel leadership in other parts of the world. We’ve got so much here, we’re worried about our problems, and we’re absorbed with our culture and consumeristic lifestyle to the degree that we are numb.

Third, American evangelicalism has become tribal, and this silence reflects that what isn’t from our group isn’t important. Whether we are conservative, moderate or progressive, whether we find our primary group to this association or that denomination, and some of this is shaped by internet tribal capacities, we are in a tribe and we pay attention to our tribe, and if our tribe doesn’t produce it, then it must not be important.

Fourth, the silence reflects American evangelicalism’s lethargy about missionary gospel expansion…This is the impact of pluralism, and it is leading to a missionary malaise.

What McKnight has skillfully summed up is that while many churches in America are doing many great things around the world, the reality remains that, the church has become lethargic, numb to what is happening among the world’s churches, and insular. The problem is the view that if the American church is not doing it – whatever “it” may be – then it is not cool, relevant, or worthwhile.

What the Western church needs to be awakened to is a missions from a reign of God perspective in which all contributions are valued, all actors are recognized, and the church takes its rightful place at the center. With this perspective, our churches can become, communities sensitive to the initiative of God; communities motivated of the reign of Jesus; communities characterized by mutual sharing from mutual centers of influence.

Global partnerships demonstrate the missionary nature of God. Partnership in mission reflects the identity of the Triune missionary God, who sends the Son, who in turn sends the church in the power of the Spirit. The mission of God is rooted in relationships of mutual love modeled by the Trinity for the sake of the mission of the church in the world.

Global partnership is, therefore characterized by a mutual love and respect for one another. Mission is highly relational. Partnering with God and with one another is to mirror the divine will within the missio Dei. But when we reduce mission to what we can accomplish we miss the call of God on each of our lives. That is, the call to become his disciples who make disciples of all nations.

For this to happen, there must be a renewed sense of mission being about discipleship and faithfulness to Jesus. Just as the missional church in America must live its life in the reality of the kingdom of God, were all churches in the same area are perceived as part of the same mission, so must a global mission be lived out in the same way.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

About Michael

Michael is a committed follower of Jesus Christ who thinks too much about all the things he wonders about. His wife and sons love him, his friends tolerate him, and strangers avoid him. He does his best work at home, but that really isn’t saying much. Despite attempts to fit in, play sports, and live the American Dream, Michael lacks the ability to be qualified as normal.

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