I think that I may have mentioned that one of my favourite verses of Scripture is 2 Timothy 2:2:
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
With that passage in mind, I was rather taken with this quote from my friends Julie & Wonsuk Ma, who are missiologists and theologians from South Korea:
This new change also challenges the traditional mission presuppositions. For instance, the indigenous church principle has been hailed as a genius conceptual driving force to bring success to Christian mission in the last two centuries. The assumed goal of mission in this scenario has been the establishment of local churches that would no longer require outside (or missionaries’) help. This would allow the missionaries to move to new “unreached” places to start new mission work. Seldom were the “mission-ed” churches taught to grow up to become “mission-ing” churches to join the missionaries. No wonder the old paradigm necessitates a constant flow of missionaries from the rich and white lands to the “uncivilised heathens.” In fact, not long ago, a frustrated Asian missionary working in a neighbouring Asian country challenged a group of Western missionaries and nationals who were engaging in seminary education. “I would not like to be ‘up there’ and be scolded by God for not preparing Asian churches for mission. Even if we missionaries do not teach them, God is already preparing them for missionary work.”
Ma, W. & Ma, J.C. (2003) “Empowering the Asian Church for God’s Mission” An Introductory Reflection. In Asian Church and God’s Mission, (Eds, Ma, W. & Ma, J.C.) OMF Literature Inc., Manila, pp. 5-7.
Just a few thoughts on reflection:
- I’m not convinced that the idea of producing independent churches is a good one. The church world-wide is meant to be interdependent; we need each other. The church in the West needs the “missionary” churches just as much as they need us.
- I think things have moved on since 2003 and significant effort is being put into training missionaries in the “Global-South”.
- Despite this, we cannot afford to be complacent, much, much more could and should be done in this domain.