My previous blog, “Relating Better to Majority World Missions,” took a look at one aspect of a two-sided issue – that of how we in the West need to refine our thinking and practices as we interface and partner with brothers and sisters of the Majority World church. In that blog I mentioned six cautions we in the West dare not neglect if we are to relate well with the rest of the World Christian Movement.
Yet there is another side to this relationship. We greatly value the gifts, talents, abilities, worldview/cultural perspectives, biblical insights, and high levels of spirituality that so often refresh us as we interconnect with Majority World Christians. We benefit so much as these brothers and sisters interrelate more and more with us. But we now need to address how we in the West would most appreciate how our Majority World brothers and sisters relate to us.
- We would appreciate your critiques and criticisms. Some of your best thinkers are already doing a good job at this. You see from a distance our theological and methodological shortcomings and you candidly bring them to our attention. We appreciate that. As believers immersed in a Western worldview, materialism, consumerism, and affluence, we need to be told when our cultural assumptions and absorptions blindside biblical mandates. You most likely have noticed that Westerners love to give and take evaluations. We evaluate everything: classes, conferences, seminars, webinars, workshops and even church services. You name it; we evaluate it. This is built into the way we improve. So, don’t be reticent to voice your critiques – we expect and accept them.
- We would appreciate your connections and collaborations. We would be at a debilitating disadvantage if we in the West attempted to accomplish the Great Commission on our own. We know that in the past many of us did that very thing and maybe the spirit of the times allowed it, but that era has long passed. In this highly connected globalized world, we need you to partner and collaborate with us – and vice versa – so that together we can accomplish mutually agreed upon goals and objectives. You keep us from pushing our own narrow agendas by your willingness and efforts to connect and collaborate.
- We would appreciate your creative ideas. We in the West are known for thinking up new plans and implementing innovative initiatives. It is one of our high values. But we certainly do not have a monopoly on creative thought. We like being infused with novel and new ideas from other perspectives that would help sharpen and focus what we should be doing. You have different viewpoints and perceptions to offer that could be mutually beneficial.
- We would appreciate your prayerful concern for our churches. We value your concern for the deterioration of biblical foundations and values in our churches that are undermining the ability of the Church to be a light both here and globally. Missionary candidates come through our screening processes with more personal “baggage” than ever before. When it comes to funding, churches no longer give their best, but their leftovers. For many churches the Great Commission is not a central thought but an afterthought. Prayer times have been relegated to spare times. Brothers and sisters, pray for us.
- We would appreciate your compassion. We are not necessarily looking for sympathy but rather a posture of compassion. We would appreciate compassion toward our human limitations and spiritual needs. We face the same temptations and spiritual struggles you face. We too experience opposition to our efforts to live godly lives in the midst of an increasingly crooked generation. Like you, we struggle in our efforts to get the Good News of Jesus to the nations. Thanks for thinking of us as feeble equals in the midst of doing God’s bidding.
Relationships need constant maintenance. Global relationships demand even more attention and maintenance, coupled with an attitude of grace. If all of us – from the West and the rest – heed the cautions I mentioned last month along with these appreciations, we will have a much more harmonious journey into the future. Let us continue to deepen and refine our relationships for the furtherance of His kingdom.