Archive for the ‘Mutuality’ Category

People often ask me which of the 7 Global Currents is most pressing for Christians to understand today.  If I had to pick one, it would be Mutuality.  We westerners need to recognize that the indigenous church in the developing (majority) world increasingly has ample education, resources, access, and numbers of leaders.  What the global Church needs from us in the west is not our leadership, but our partnership.  More and more, our role will be one of encouraging, augmenting, and building up the Body in the developing world.

Any parent knows that moving from calling the shots to being one voice among many is challenging and often sometimes frustrating.  That is undoubtedly the future role of American believers, though, as we seek to bolster the global Church.  It’s a role which excites me because it shows that, after a generation of American leadership in the mission enterprise, reinforcements have arrived.   All parties will grow, as western believers learn new levels of humility and cooperation, and majority believers develop new levels of confidence and wisdom.


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A pastor friend recently commented on the important role of teaching in today’s churches, as opposed to preaching.  He observed that most churches offer precious few opportunities for pastors to teach.  We proceeded to discuss the future role, if any, of Sunday Schools in American churches.

An hour later, I was speaking via Skype to a group of pastors in Texas, and one asked me where I would direct tens of thousand of dollars, if I could choose any project at all. I told him that many granters and I regard leadership development as the very most important need in the global Church.  As a donor and philanthropic advisor, I don’t know of any projects which are more scalable and strategic than leadership development.

Buildings can be demolished or seized by hostile governments. Programs can be defunded by donors.  Leaders, though, cannot be quelled, as they apply their gifting toward the world’s greatest needs.  This is true even in highly educated countries like the United States, where increasingly there is inadequate theological and Biblical grounding.  It is true in nations with emerging economies, like India, China, Vietnam, and Brazil.

It is also true in less-developed nations around the world, which are now finally producing indigenous leaders to fill the roles that missionaries and outsiders used to fill.  In a future of Mutual mission collaboration, outsiders from the west will need to pair with (or follow) indigenous leaders, who demonstrate new levels of education, experience, connectedness, and confidence.

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In a recent opinion column in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman sounds the alarm about how the United States is slipping in its global competitive edge.  Friedman spoke with Paul Otinelli, the CEO of Intel, who explained why Intel and other large multi-national corporations are increasingly building factories elsewhere in the world.  His reasons included cheaper labor forces, lower tax burdens, and lower building costs; the CEO focused  on the fact, though, that skilled labor forces are everywhere now– an example both of the Global Currents of Migration and also Mutuality.

These local incentives matter because smart, skilled labor is everywhere now. Intel can thrive today — not just survive, but thrive — and never hire another American. Asked if his company was being held back by weak science and math education in America’s K-12 schools, Otellini explained:  “As a citizen, I hate it. As a global employer, I have the luxury of hiring the best engineers anywhere on earth. If I can’t get them out of M.I.T., I’ll get them out of Tsing Hua” — Beijing’s M.I.T.

This phenomenon is what journalist Fareed Zakaria describes in his book The Post-American World as the “rise of the rest.”  At the very beginning of his book Zakaria explains:

This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else.  It is about the great transformation taking place around the world, a transformation that, though often discussed, remains poorly understood.  This is natural.  Changes, even sea changes, take place gradually.  Though we talk about a new era, the world seems to be one with which we are familiar.  But in fact, it is very different.

And it is in this context that the American church must embrace the global current of Mutuality.  We are used to calling the shots when we deal with organizations or people of different nations–particularly ones that are less-resourced and less-developed.  The Biblical command to spread the Gospel to every nation and tribe remains a motivating force… but the world’s dynamics are changing.   Many indigenous peoples now have, not just great reservoirs of spiritual richness and wisdom, but also great degrees and pedigrees.  As we seek to play a role in building God’s kingdom, we increasingly need to partner with indigenous believers, helping local actors to play on their own stage rather than simply exporting our show.

To read the full opinion column click here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/opinion/03friedman.html

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Willow Creek, the American based mega-church, is seeking to model Mutuality in its outreach efforts in Africa.  According to Christianity Today, Willow Creek is practicing Mutuality by carefully picking local partners who are already actively serving their communities’ physical needs.  Recognizing that local churches have the local knowledge and expertise, Willow Creek seeks to be discreet in providing financial support.

In fact, Willow Creek’s outreach to Africa—specifically Angola, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa—is as extensive as it is extraordinary. And it is extensive, ironically and precisely, because it bypasses multimillion-dollar nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to work mostly with local churches. And hardly ever with other megachurches, but small, small churches. Furthermore, Willow refuses to bring to bear most of its vast expertise and technological resources. Instead, it relies on the basic resources and expertise of that small, local church.

It’s a good rule of thumb:  don’t flash the cash, but lead with Mutuality. So often, western churches unconsciously or perhaps knowingly let their money do the talking. That can lead to puffed-up power for the donor, and artificial submission by the recipient.  Practicing Mutuality builds up the body of believers, with each side listening to each other and both listening  for the Holy Spirit.

See article:  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/march/29.32.html

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