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Read Doing Mission in Christ’s Way

The Dallas continuation committee is a small group responsible for continuing the vision of the first Dallas consultation. They created a shorter, focused statement derived from the principals of partnership and mutuality embodied in the Dallas consultation.

“Doing Mission In Christ’s Way” outlines the values that run through faithful and effective mission practice. Those values are connected with their biblical roots. The revised statement breaks down the principals into core concepts which engender the spirit of a mission that seeks to engage the church and the world. “Doing Mission In Christ’s Way” seeks to empower us and our congregations to engage in faithful mission practice.

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Afterwards, 39 more groups affirmed the document. Many signers wanted the group to “go deeper,” to begin to suggest practical ways to describe how Presbyterians can best do mission in Christ’s way. 


Doing Mission in Christ’s Way

A follow-up to the mission invitation created in a Mission Celebration ’09 Workshop (10/23/2009)

We recognize that God calls us to mission that is grounded in confession of our sins, grows out of a life of prayer and is sustained in worship. We recognize that God invites all of us to participate in God’s mission. Therefore, we commit ourselves to work cooperatively with one another and to assume a spirit of collaboration. Together let us respond with heart, mind and body to Jesus’ own prayer from John 17:22-23. With bold humility we invite others into this covenant with us as we encourage one another and seek God’s guidance in all that we undertake as Christ’s agents of reconciliation.

Those who do mission in Christ’s way…

Worship the triune God together and pray for one another (Matthew  7, Acts 1)

  • Pray: Surround your local or global mission with prayer (pray for your partners by name, pray for partner congregations, pray about faithful participation, faithful use of financial, human and material resources, invite other to pray with and for the mission). Pray for PC(USA) mission workers.
  • Worship: Include times of worship/prayer with your partners during any visit (worship in their congregations, bring them into your home congregation’s worship with liturgies, prayers, letters, photographs, etc.)
  • Cultivate: Develop long-term prayer partners. Stay in touch throughout the year and affirm each other’s.

Participate in mutual discernment, planning and follow-up (Acts 10, 1 Thessalonians 2)

  • Collaborate: Connect with mission workers and partners, other churches, partner congregations, PC(USA) groups [1] and leaders at home and away to participate in mission project planning and implementation together. Discuss openly with them about cultural issues, financial issues and ongoing mission. Together, shape the nature, leadership and content of the specific partnership. Honor your local host partner’s responsibility and authority as the host (you are the guests).
  • Train: Provide training for your group before a visit and debriefings afterwards. Include role-playing to recognize and act with cultural sensitivity upon openings for gospel-sharing. Study a mission book together to learn about holistic mission, cultural proficiency and/or mission partnerships.
  • Follow-up: Debrief with mission partners before concluding a mission experience and follow-up faithfully and conscientiously. Organize repeat short-term mission trips to the same location and with the same partners. Value and build long-term relationships of trust.

Model self-giving and self-emptying mission (Philippians 2, John 17); respect the dignity, gifts and resources of the partners (Philippians 2).

  • Empty themselves: Relationships are more important than projects. Be open to learning and receiving from your partners. Develop good listening skills. Listen to your partners’ desires, needs and strategies as the nature and content of the mission takes shape. Articulate an eagerness to share leadership with your partners. Be open to the transformation of your own lifestyle, attitudes and ideas.
  • Give of themselves sacrificially: Be adaptable and flexible. Be willing to express your own needs and ideas — and be willing to let your own needs and ideas take second (or third) place.
  • Give of their resources faithfully: Be aware of the harm that some gifts can cause, including generating relationships of unhealthy dependency, division of churches and jealousies. Make contributions (financial, material and otherwise) in consultation with official boards, committees of your partners and/or organizations and not to individuals. Think about supporting PC(USA) mission workers financially.

Approach ministry holistically (word/deed and evangelism/compassion/justice) (Luke 4, Micah 6)

  • Demonstrate concern: Exhibit concern for the poor, oppressed, invisible and unreached. Observe and learn from partners who have a holistic vision of mission. Listen to the voices of and follow the lead of the people closest to the ground with the most knowledge of the situation.
  • Acknowledge and support: Recognize the mission work of your partners and others at work in the area (in and beyond the PC(USA)) that complements your participation in holistic mission. Cooperate with them in appropriate ways. Consult with partners to determine advocacy needs and how to act on those needs.
  • Remember who and whose they are. Be alert to and aware of God already at work in your partner’s ministries and be alert to new opportunities to become vulnerable for God: to model and share the gospel, to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with God. Focus your partnership on long-term relationships that facilitate deep personal change.

Provide mutual encouragement that honors different gifts in ministry (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 1); recognize our interdependence and the need for mutual transformation (1 Corinthians 12, John 15, Romans 12).

  • Connect and encourage: Share a meal with long-term mission workers serving in the areas you visit. Value their long-term role. Encourage them. Continue to support them with contacts and prayers when you get home. Intentionally build trust with other workers in the mission field.
  • Come together and share: Receive the gifts and meals and invitations of your partners gratefully and graciously. Invite each other to visit, care for one another, share companionship and joy. Share deepest beliefs through the arts (forms other than the spoken or written word).
  • Confess: Admit your own needs, weaknesses and insufficiencies so that you and your partners may build a relationship of equals, (forgiven, beloved sinners) grounded in truthfulness, respect and compassion that facilitates mutual transformation. Ask partners to respond honestly to the hard questions: ‘How can we help?’ and ‘How can we do no harm?’ and ‘What are our weaknesses and failures?’

Communicate openly; act transparently; be mutually accountable (Ephesians 4)

  • Clarify: Clarify assumptions about what constitutes good communication and methods of mutual accountability. Draft a covenant of understanding together, one that also provides for on-going mutual evaluation.
  • Designate: Designate a representative from each partner to serve as the ‘official’ channel for communications about partnership matters.
  • Communicate: Communicate in advance about expectations related to financial gifts (what to do if an unexpected needs arises, if the project changes, if there is surplus money, etc). Share financial reports on all gifts with partners, mission workers, PC(USA) officers and donors. Communicate events, activities, progress, happenings and experiences with your congregations and your governing boards and those of your partners.

Are aware of their own context (Philippians 2), work to understand cross-cultural realities including the context of those with whom they labor (Philippians 2, Deuteronomy 24) and are sensitive to the issues of power that come from global inequities (Jeremiah 9).

  • Learn: Spend time in language learning with an eye toward immersing yourself in the local community.
    Learn about communication styles of the community (not limited to language). Learn about the culture and the socio-economic context of those with whom you wish to partner. Take time to build cross-cultural friendships.
  • Practice: Learn the basics of culture theory and practice using cross-cultural proficiency tools.
  • Respect: Value the perspective, worldview and culture of your partners. Know that your context has shaped you and theirs has shaped them. Seek to understand and appreciate the differences rather than judge them.

[1] E.g. contact local presbytery executives, the Mission Network, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Presbyterian Hunger Program, Medical Benevolence Foundation, entities cited in the PC(USA) Mission Yearbook, etc.

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