Answering an add for a youth pastor position in a church plant (a long time ago), I sat before the pastor eager to ‘get the job’. Soon, I realized this position was not for me. The pastor, good intentioned no doubt, made a point of distinguishing his ministry from all others in the area–and there were quite a few. The main distinction he kept making was denominational–where others were represented in abundance, this particular brand was not. From what I could gather, the need was less about reaching people for Jesus as much as it was making sure his denomination was properly represented. Sometimes churches and sending agencies place similar demands upon their cross-cultural workers, which sets them us for failure somewhere in ministry.
It’s all up to You…
While living in Budapest, I attended a church planter’s conference to do a bit of home work on my target group (Christian leaders). At one point, the facilitators broke us up into country groups for further discussion. I was one of nine living and working in Hungary. During a lull in the conversation, I asked everyone at the table to describe what they hoped to accomplish in Hungary–i.e. what was their mission? Each described their agency’s “mission” which basically included creating some kind of church planting movement. Seriously, they each represented a different mission agency and each statement sounded like they looked over the other’s shoulder to write their own.
A bit puzzled, I asked: “So, how often do you help each other and pray together since your missions obvious overlap?” Sheepishly, they began checking out their shoes for defects and responded that they did not work together for disagreeing with the other’s philosophy of ministry. Besides, their leadership discouraged collaboration for reasons not quite clear to any of them.
I know of a sending church that has written it’s own curriculum and only works with partners that endorse what they have to say. Those who had lived in the country and know the culture were never consulted. After all, their curriculum was the best…
Really? Is this what we want for our cross-cultural worker? And, is it what we really want to communicate to a lost world trying to understand our message?
…and your Success is measurable!
“Where God leads He provides.”
“God must be blessing that ministry, look how it has grown!”
Many workers I know deeply resent having to fill out ‘progress reports’ for their supporting churches–and for their agency. For one thing, it takes a lot of time and energy. Also, unfortunately, some have experienced a loss in support or agency reprimand because they did not meet certain expectations. And, as I mentioned in a previous post, some churches and agencies assume there is a right way of doing things, that if certain criteria were followed, the worker would see success.
Eventually, if the worker continues to fall short of the required methodology and expected results, they may easily conclude they are failures and either brown out or opt out altogether. Worse still, if the worker somehow is able to meet the demands and ‘prove’ the success of a particular formula, the greater danger is in their arrogance and being pedestalized as real M’s.