by Paul McGuinness
181 Publishing, 2015.
—Reviewed by Dr. Ed Scheuerman, who served with Pioneers for twenty-three years in Southeast Asia; coordinator of the Intercultural Studies major, Lancaster (PA) Bible College.
When it comes to partnering with the Church ‘over there,’ the local church needs to start with the understanding that the Lord is already there. The Western missionary does not have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. Such is the premise of Walk this Way: A Better Path to Global Engagement by Paul McGuinness.
This is a primer on how the local church, especially here in North America, needs to take off its paternalistic worldview when it comes to working overseas. McGuinness’ experience in global outreach initiatives has informed his concerns about the way many local churches flounder in attempting to effectively come alongside ministries around the world.
He does a good job of reminding us of the all-too-present arrogance of the Church in the West that goes into a cross-cultural context with a messianic posture. When the short-term team arrives with the ‘right’ ways to accomplish God’s purposes in this, its leaders expose their own inability to trust God. They fail to realize that the same Holy Spirit in them is the same Holy Spirit in their believing hosts.
McGuinness rightly calls Christians to examine both their motives and their methods. Regarding the former, he draws upon Duane Elmer’s Cross-Cultural Servanthood. And regarding the latter, he draws upon dependency concerns raised in books such as When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton. Examples of how to avoid the appearance of superiority are provided, as the author’s church has worked hard at forming strong partnerships, particularly in Haiti and Kenya.
One of the book’s contributions is a process to seek out and establish healthy cross-cultural partnerships. Built upon a foundation of restored relationships (with God, creation, and others) McGuinness offers five best practices for global engagement. Although none of these is earth-shattering, the combination results in a practical, strategic way forward that is lacking in many churches. This is then rounded out with a helpful description of what to look for in a cross-cultural partner.
One concern is the lack of emphasis on the role of the Western missionary today. Other than a cursory mention, McGuinness speaks nearly exclusively about the Church’s role as a whole. Mobilizing seems to revolve around praying, giving, and going within the context of short-term trips.
Nonetheless, McGuinness has gifted the North American Church with a solid introduction to the often neglected issues of cross-cultural partnership. For churches becoming aware of how they may be contributing to dependency, this book will help to dig them out of the rut and to get on the road of shared value in partnerships. This is a path laid out both scripturally and strategically. This book will help them to walk the way that honors God and those involved in partnership.
Check these titles:
Lingenfelter, Sherwood. 2008. Leading Cross-Culturally: Covenant Relationships for Effective Christian Leadership. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
Richardson, Don. 2006. Eternity in Their Hearts. Bloomington, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers.