One of the beauties of holism is that it moves us beyond a project mind-set.
As we heard about in the last post, a holistic approach gives us a chance to look at life in terms of relationships. What are the broken pieces of each other’s lives? Where do the relationships need reparation? This forces us to change the glasses we are looking at the world through.
It is easy in a fast-paced, urgent, and results-driven society to begin falling into ‘project mind-set’ as we call it. The questions that we ask, and the results that we are measuring, often have more to do with quantitative, tangible data on a project than they do with true transformation. And this observation comes from a lover of data and analytics. While these tools of measurement are highly valuable (and really cool to study and digest I might add), they don’t tell the whole story. A question that we have to ask ourselves as a faith-based nonprofit is – Are we seeing people’s lives and relationships being repaired?
If so, then we are beginning to move beyond a world where we view Africa, Asia, parts of South America, and Eastern Europe as projects that need fixing. Let’s be honest, only God can “fix” and repair the brokenness in these areas, and in our own lives too. We’re still a part of His plan though. We get to be agents for change that (and self-confession here) need reminded to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I don’t want to be viewed as a project for someone to come in and work on. I’d rather have a neighbor care enough to help me find work, to listen to me when I’m frustrated, to make me feel safe, to point me toward the only One who can offer true peace. The same is true of our neighbors around the world. If we can begin to see them as people just like us, who have likely experienced brokenness beyond what we can imagine, we’ll see the true beauty of a holistic approach toward world-missions.
A few weeks ago, we attempted to wrestle with the idea of embracing the new/different. We used the story of Peter walking on the Galilean waves toward Jesus as a metaphor to help us understand the way today’s Christ follower could help to bring about the Kingdom of God—even when it requires a lot of us. In fact, isn’t the fundamental characteristic of being a Christ follower that we are “all in”. Christ does indeed require a lot of us—what’s more, He demands ALL of us. This has some massive implications for how we think about the church’s (in this case I am referring to the universal church: the entire body of believers worldwide) mission to point the world to Christ, while simultaneously helping to bring His Kingdom to earth. Naturally, we have to constantly ask ourselves “In what direction is God leading us? “What is the best way we can both point people to Jesus and approximate God’s Kingdom on earth?” In doing this, we remain in-tune to God’s spiritual frequency, able to to follow Him wherever He beckons us.
As we have mentioned before, we (Impact and Global) feel that God is leading us in a certain direction in regard to doing missions. In the next few weeks, we will outline some of the key functions of the Impact and Global model. For now, I want to focus on one of the distinguishing factors that makes us excited about what where God is taking world missions in the 21 Century.
One of the unique parts about the Global Disciples’ (and Impact49) model is that it is self-sustainable. What does this mean? To explore this, let’s check out what it doesn’t mean:
1) It doesn’t mean giving out “handouts”. Global Disciples and Impact49 are not focused on solely giving to people who are in economic need. We don’t just want to send our people to a region that is in need both physically and spiritually, let them drop off resources and Bibles, and then hop back on a plane to the US. Although handouts are helpful and certainly have a place in providing aid and assistance to those in need, we want are interested in something totally different.
2) It doesn’t mean that the developing world should be waiting on the West, as it were. We don’t see the West as intrinsically more powerful or “better” than the developing world. That is why we want to cultivate and empower those in the developing world to build their communities both in a physical and economical sense, but also in a spiritual one. We want to see the relationship between the West and the developing world as a coplanar relationship—one is not better than the other; it is all God’s beloved creation.
Self-sustainability DOES mean that by giving native leaders the necessary training and resources to lead their communities and churches, western believers can play a role in bringing the Gospel to every corner of the globe. It DOES mean that church leaders in these places have the capacity and spiritual gifting to lead and multiply groups of believers. Lastly, it DOES mean that we are still called to bring the Gospel to every corner of the earth; but maybe how we do this looks different. Self-sustainability operates under the belief that indigenous leaders (people native to a particular region who have potential to lead their community) can multiply believers and help to spread the Gospel—they just need some of the resources that we westerners have in abundance (training tools, money, business knowledge). By training and equipping these leaders to build faith-based communities in their particular region of the world, we are fulfilling Christ’s call to make disciples—we are “getting out of the boat”.