by Edwin E. Jacques
At the Green Lake consultation it looked as though another Lincoln-Douglas debate were shaping up. Dr. Louis King and Dr: George Peters both spoke on the principles and practices of mission-church relations.
At the Green Lake consultation it looked as though another Lincoln-Douglas debate were shaping up. Dr. Louis King and Dr: George Peters both spoke on the principles and practices of mission-church relations. Both disfavored the mission domination of the church, church domination of the mission, and an unrelated dichotomy. Then Dr. King labeled the position of Dr. Peters as "modified fusion" and his in turn was characterized as "modified dichotomy."
Remarkably, when the dust had settled, few persons could distinguish any significant difference between the two positions. Both mission and church were to maintain their separate identity and organization, functioning in what Dr. King called "cooperation of autonomous equals," and what Dr. Peters called "partnership of mutuality and equality." They seemed to be in basic harmony.
No detailed blueprints came out of the Green Lake consultation. In fact some present would minimize "structure" and emphasize only the "dynamic," Others saw these two as complementary rather than as mutually exclusive. A car with a tank full of dynamic will travel better if the structure is in good working order. Conversely, even the most perfectly tuned car needs dynamic also. Dr. Edmund Clowney insisted on the need of both "ardor tend order."
The dynamic has been provided (Acts 1:8), but what about a detailed structure? This will probably be formulated best by those on the field. Both mission and church leaders will be involved. No uniform pattern will emerge. Structures will be tailor-made. Differences in detail will reflect differences in mission and church organization, in cultural patterns and in the stage of church development. But one thing is sure. This adequate pattern of mission-church cooperation will not evolve naturally all by itself. It must be earnestly prayed down, thought through and carried out.
CRISIS IN INDIA
The demand for cooperation faced us first in central India. About 400 persons from the churches were holding their annual meetings at the conference ground. After the noontime chapattis and hot curry, their leaders wanted to talk. We sat in a circle on the ground, shaded by a huge mango tree. Their burden was interpreted afterward by a letter from the president of the church association. "We all think that in the missionaries’ over-all plan they should do whatever they think best. But we would be so happy if they would discuss with the association before they make their plans final. Unless we feel this plan is ours, how can we share heartily in working it out?"
That was 1961. In 1964 it was different. The executive committee of the "Evangelical Baptist Association" and 35 delegates met again one noon. They had prepared an "India Field Atlas" of professional quality. Its pages of colored maps with interpretive symbols and-statistics provided a wealth of information about each area and aspect of our work. Their typed agenda listed a dozen topics for discussion. First was nationalization. Their diagram was entitled "Our Plan for Nationalization." The church association with its several committees was identified as "autonomous," "indigenous" and "permanent." Our Central India Baptist Mission with its committees was also listed as "autonomous," but as "guests" and "temporary." Significantly, although the mission came first chronologically, the church association was placed first in their diagram.
The two executive committees comprised a Joint Advisory Committee which would plan the work and draw up recommendations for the two bodies. But our mission committees were to be dissolved and the members swallowed up in their associational committees. When the earnest discussion closed at 2 a.m. we had agreed on the concept of joint committees on which an equal number of mission and church representatives would have equal voice and vote. A detailed pattern of equal partnership was subsequently worked out.
CRISIS IN THE PHILIPPINES
The same strong winds were blowing in the Philippines. Relationships between our missionaries and national leaders had become very strained, mainly over differing opinions about mission subsidy. In 1959 I found myself drawn into the debate. Despite the earnest efforts of goad missionaries and good church leaders, the ensuing period was marked with much misunderstanding and friction. Then the mission invited the church association to select consultants to sit with the mission work committees. By 1965 it was decided to carry on the entire work program by joint committees cooperating in equal partnership. During 1966 the recently developed India pattern was studied and refined by the executive committees of the mission and the Philippine church association. A document called an "Agreement" was drawn up by the two bodies. This Agreement outlined 4the basis on which the two bodies began conducting their joint work program in January, 1967. This pattern of equal partnership originating in India and refined in the Philippines is now considered normative on our Asia fields. It may be helpful to look at it.
THE CONCEPT OF EQUAL PARTNERSHIP
Equal partnership envisions voluntary cooperation of two autonomous partners in a joint program. Our mission organization is administratively responsible to a home board and is rooted back in our home churches. The church association is administratively responsible not to this mission but to the churches in which it is rooted. Both are autonomous. Neither can make decisions for the other. But they can agree to cooperate as autonomous equals.
Mission-church partnership can begin gradually. Missionaries of the same society working in the same region usually become related to the home board and staff and to one another by forming a field organization. Hopefully simple, this includes the necessary officers, also certain standing committees, each responsible for a certain broad area of work such as church development, Christian education, medical work, literature, etc. Through these committees the missionaries cooperate as a team in the planning of field-wide programs of evangelism, leadership training, camping, publications, etc. Their proposals are coordinated by the executive committee and implemented only after field and home approval. Similarly, new believers are encouraged to band themselves together as local churches for worship, fellowship, training and witness. These emerging churches are encouraged to fellowship together as an association of churches for mutual encouragement, also for cooperation with one another and with the mission organization in planning and implementing certain field-wide programs.
As leadership emerges in these churches, the mission invites selected national Christians to serve on its work committees in an unofficial capacity as observers or consultants. Here it is altogether essential that we distinguish between the work committees responsible for evangelism, education, medical work, literature, etc., and the business committee responsible for the internal concerns of the mission, such as missionary housing, car, furlough and administration. These latter business concerns always remain under mission jurisdiction. National participation on work committees however removes any element of mystery about mission planning, and it introduces a new dimension: the insights of nationals. At first the consultants have voice but not vote on these mission committees. After a short time of orientation they are allowed to vote also. Soon the association is asked to elect its own representatives to these planning committees.
This is only preparatory to entering an equal partner relationship in conducting the work together. When the cooperation of unofficial consultants on committees proves mutually satisfactory, representatives of the mission and church association formulate an Agreement to work together as equal partners. It provides that both the mission and church association elect representatives to serve on joint work committees. These joint committees plan and recommend field-wide programs to the two executive committees functioning now as a Joint Advisory Committee. The JAC reviews the recommended work programs and makes recommendations to both mission and church organizations for approval by each before implementation. A joint work budget is established, both mission and church association contributing as each is able to finance the joint field program. This equal partnership is to be the normal pattern of cooperation until the increasing maturity of the churches may make further missionary cooperation in that region unnecessary, or an international emergency may make it impossible.
Mission and church should spell out clearly the details of this cooperative relationship. One such agreement is entitled: "An Agreement for the Cooperative Stage of Nationalization of Conservative Baptist Work in the Philippines." Some of its provisions may prove suggestive.
The name "Joint Advisory Committee" is given to the cooperating executive committees of church association and mission.
The purpose is declared to be: "To cooperatively plan and carry out the Conservative Baptist work in the Philippines, our motto being, `We are laborers together with God’ (1 C or. 3:9)."
The goals are defined: (1) winning souls; (2) establishing churches; (3) strengthening churches; (4) training leadership; (5) developing the church association.
The members of JAC are the chairman of the church association’s executive committee, the mission chairman, the chairmen and vice chairmen of the three work committees, and the treasurers of both church association and mission.
The officers are: (1) Co-chairmen: the two chairmen of the church and mission organizations. (2) Secretary. (3) Treasurer, who after these several years is still the mission treasurer.
Their responsibilities are obvious, noting however that the co-chairmen chair the meetings alternately.
Meetings are held on a stipulated day quarterly; with provision for either chairman to call a special meeting after getting approval of his own body. The co-chairmen prepare the agenda together. All minutes passed by either board separately which affect the Joint Work Program (JWP) are to be communicated by that co-chairman in writing to the other partner.
A quorum consists of three members present from each body, provided one of the co-chairmen of JAC is present.
The responsibilities of JAC are the following: (1) Adopt and administer the Joint Work Program through the joint work committees. (2) Adopt and administer the joint budget. (3) Appoint or approve representatives to the several mission agencies or national church bodies with which it maintains affiliation. (4) Solve problems according to the following principles: (a) Differences between churches and the association shall be handled by the association only. (b) Problems between the association and the mission shall be dealt with by JAC. (c) Personal differences shall be handled on a scriptural basis according to Matthew 18:15-17. (5) A special work or project which is a joint responsibility of church and mission but which does not come under the responsibility of either of the three joint work committees, shall be assigned to one of them by JAC, or to a specially appointed committee.
Authority. (l) The JAC has no executive power over the association or the mission, but it shall make recommendations to the respective bodies. (2) The JAC shall administer all the evangelism, education and literature work of both the association and mission through the joint work committees. There shall be no independent program in either of these areas of work by either the mission or church association. The JAC may proceed to administer a given project only when it has been given prior approval by the executive committees of both the church association and mission. (3) The recommendations, advice or requests of JAC shall be forwarded to the executive committees of the association and mission in writing through their respective presiding officers. The executive committees shall act on matters coming from JAC as soon as possible, preferably the same day.
It may seem repetitious for the executive committees to approve separately the JAC minutes which they have already approved together. However this is a safety device by which either executive committee can refuse to ratify a majority action of JAC, and thus the autonomy of both bodies is preserved. Incidentally, nationals have not tended to vote in a bloc any more than missionaries do.
(4) Certain limitations are recognized. The mission for instance can implement certain categories of action only after approval by the home board. To secure at least tacit approval by other members of the church and mission organizations, the implementation of JAC actions is deferred for two weeks after general distribution of the minutes to make sure there are not several written requests for reconsideration. (5) Placement of mission personnel is discussed by representatives of both mission and church, but final authority rests with the mission. The Agreement closes this section by observing that "in the cooperative stage of nationalization each body, whether mission or church, is somewhat limited voluntarily by its own decision to enter into full cooperation with the other body in all the work committee responsibilities."
Finances. "It is agreed that equal partnership of mission and church does not imply equal financial responsibility. A program like this can only be successful as each group is faithful in its financial responsibilities and demonstrates mutual trust in each other. The executive committee of each organization shall estimate its income for the year. It shall also estimate its own operational costs or business expenses. The balance should be paid into the joint budget account to care for the work program approved by the two organizations. The JAC may have to modify the proposed work program so it will come within the financial limits of funds available." Because this is such a sensitive point, we should note some of the guiding principles listed in the Agreement. (1) The budget for the work program shall be confined to the funds available. (2) Subsidy must be limited to the regulations established by the home board of CBFMS and by the over-all plan of the field. (3) Funds paid to the joint work program from either mission or association are considered grants. At the end of the year JAC will be the owner of any surplus funds and the debtor in case of any deficit. A deficit of a given year must be met as a first priority item in the budget of the following year. (4) Ordinarily joint work program funds are not to be used for the direct benefit of established local churches. (5) There follows several guidelines for the handling of funds, banking, records, reports and preparation of the budget.
Joint Work Committees. Each of the three work committees has six members: three nationals and three missionaries. The association and mission each submit a nominee for chairman of each work committee. Additional committee members are appointed by the co-chairmen of JAC acting jointly after consulting with the nominees for chairmen of the respective committees. Then each committee shall elect its chairman from the two nominees submitted by association and mission, the remaining nominee automatically becoming vice chairman of the committee. The Agreement then lists a dozen general regulations for all the committees, and about as many specific responsibilities for each of the joint committees.
An organizational diagram illustrates the relationship of JAC upward to the executive committee, association and churches on the one hand, and to the executive committee, mission and home board on the other, also downward to the three joint committees. It is obvious that this cooperative pattern does not represent a relationship between certain committees only, but an official relationship between association and mission which affects the handling of the entire work program. Revision or Termination. Very realistically the following provisions conclude the Agreement. First: "Negotiations for revising any provision of the Cooperative Nationalization Agreement may be initiated by either executive committee at any time." Then finally: "Either the Conservative Baptist Association in the Philippines or the Conservative Baptist Mission may terminate this cooperative stage of nationalization. The procedure shall be that the organization desiring to terminate the cooperative agreement shall notify the other organization in writing, and it is agreed that a one-year notice period must be allowed before dissolving JAC."
We might ask what steps were followed in setting up this equal partner relationship in the Philippines.
1. A missionary was selected by his colleagues to serve as a Nationalization Consultant. Our mission chairman was chosen. He was given a copy of the earlier India Agreement to serve as a point of departure. He had to review and consider all available material on the subject. He was to interact with others, both American and Filipino, as broadly as possible.
2. The consultant drafted a tentative Agreement for the field. This was presented to both executive committees for study.
3. Then the consultant met with the mission executive committee, going over the Agreement point by point, and rewriting the paper so as to incorporate their suggestions.
4. The consultant went over the revised paper with the chairman of the church association, then with his executive committee incorporating their suggestions in yet another revision.
5. A joint meeting of the two executive committees was called and the entire plan was examined thoroughly. With the final revisions the Agreement was adopted by the two executive committees.
6. The final draft of the Agreement was then discussed by the mission and the church association meeting separately, and it was adopted by each.
7. The mission organization had to make the necessary revisions of its constitution and its over-all plan so as to carry on its internal business affairs separately and the work program cooperatively, submitting these two documents and the Agreement to the home board for approval.
8. The association and mission each nominated a chairman for each committee, then these six in consultation with the chairmen of the association and mission appointed two more missionaries and two more nationals to serve on each of the three joint committees. At the first meeting of the committees one of the JAC co-chairmen presided long enough to help the committee select a chairman from the two nominees, the other nominee automatically becoming vice chairman.
9. Then on January 1, 1967, with the full approval of both bodies and the home board, the unilateral mission operation was discontinued, and the joint committees and Joint Advisory Committee began to function. The mission and the church organization had become equal partners responsible for our total work program in the Philippines.
EQUAL PARTNERSHIP WORKS
Last year a report called the joint program "highly successful." After three years of operation under the Agreement no major revision had been necessary. This does not imply of course that a similar pattern of mission-church cooperation will prove "highly successful" everywhere else. It may, and it may not. Certainly modifications will be necessary. But missions still working unilaterally should explore with their churches some pattern that does fit their circumstances, and put it into operation. It is far better that the mission initiate some pattern of equal partnership voluntarily rather than be forced into it by the mounting pressures of this turbulent age. For equal partnership is not only expedient, it is effective and it is eminently right.
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