Core Values Offer Common Ground for Mission Partners
Over the years, the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries has learned that for new churches to take root, local leaders must be empowered and self-sufficiency encouraged. The core values adopted by the 50/50 In Mission Together program focus on ways partners can come together to spread the Gospel of Christ while learning from one another.
By Sandra Brands
While the Covenant is the foundation upon which Global Ministries’ 50/50 In Mission Together partnerships are built, the core values are shared goals for mission, creating the common ground for partners.
“The core values provide the areas where 50/50 partnerships can work together,” said the Rev. Patrick L. Friday, Director of IMT Partnerships. “It provides areas where partners can focus.”
Friday said five core values have grown out of years of listening and learning from mission partners throughout the world. The values are:
- church planting,
- spiritual formation,
- community development,
- communications through social media and
- promoting self-sufficiency.
The core values also represent, he said, a shift away from the institutional church to the roots of the Wesleyan movement that fostered the rapid growth of the church in the United States and Great Britain during the 19th century.
“We want to grow the church, that’s why we do mission,” Friday said. “When you look around the world, where is the UMC growing? It’s growing in Latin America, in Southeast Asia, in Africa. What can we learn from them? In Laos and Malawi and elsewhere, the church is a movement, not an institution. Movements are about mobilization and self-sufficiency. For the whole church, the challenge is how can we be a movement and not an institution?”
Like Mission Initiatives, Friday said, In Mission Together Partnerships help create and facilitate partnerships in places where The United Methodist Church is growing around the world.
“In engaging new places, we’ve learned a lot over the last 20 years about what it means to be a growing, dynamic church,” he said. “Mission Initiatives have helped us with research and development as we learn about the best practices that are being used to successfully empower local leaders and plant new churches.”
He said the foundation of 50/50 In Mission Together partnerships are the long-term relationships that develop. The relationships encourage learning from one another at every stage and respecting each other’s strengths and joining in mission alongside one another to shore up weaknesses.
The core values, he said, help people from different cultures and different countries find ways to be true partners who share their joys and challenges and learn each other’s best practices, returning to their local church to introduce what has been learned.
In 2012, Global Ministries Missionary Bill Gibson, a member of Lodi United Methodist Church in Wisconsin, traveled to Malawi, where the church is burgeoning. He spent time learning from local church leaders the evangelism and outreach strategies that were succeeding in the Southeast African country. By August, he and his wife, Gwen, had arrived in Senegal to share with local leaders what was happening in Malawi. The Gibsons then worked with the Senegalese church leaders to adapt the best practices for the cultural and social needs of the predominately Muslim nation in West Africa.
In early May, local leaders held a training for lay pastors to equip them with the resources and information they need to help make disciples for Christ.
Each of the 11 countries with active 50/50 In Mission Together partnerships has a Facebook page where news and celebrations are shared. Coordinators, both in the United States and overseas, are encouraged to use online video conferencing, such as ooVo or Skype, as a tool allowing partners to gather on opposite sides of the world for roundtables and training, to worship and study together, share goals and concerns and build long-term Christian fellowship.
“When we had our Eurasia Roundtable [April 26-27], we gathered at Christ UMC in Memphis, Tenn., in the U.S. and at 10 different hubs across Eurasia using ooVo,” Friday said. “Methodist came together in a location—sometimes at a church, an apartment or a school –and we were connected.”
What In Mission Together has learned over the years about building long-term relationships and asset-based community development, they are sharing with others, Friday said. “Do you want to be equipped to do mission together; do you want to do mission without fostering dependency so you can have long-term impact? People have been using short-term strategies and ending up frustrated, so they’re desperately looking for ways to do mission better and looking at who’s working with these issues.”
“We’re here to facilitate your work in mission,” he said. “We want people to take what they learn from their partners, from their work with the Mission Initiatives and apply it to their local church. We understand the core values are tools you can use in different settings and a way to engage in the Methodist movement around the world.”
“People are beginning to see that this model is a way to have partnerships with other churches, with Mission Initiatives and in local communities in the United States,” Friday said. He added that it is through long-term relationships of love and caring that communities everywhere are revitalized and empowered.
“The experience partners have had as IMT partners has helped them in their mission work in other areas, with other countries and communities,” he said. “They are using the skills and experiences they’ve had globally and applying them locally, and using what they’ve learned locally and applying it globally.”
“We know that God is at work in the midst of all of this,” he said, “but we still need to do our part. We need to learn from one another and grow in the process. We have to be good stewards of the gifts and graces we’ve been given and to learn what it means to be a good partner.”
Learn how social media is being used to build relationships and develop partnerships.
Download the IMT Online Worship and Bible Study Toolkit and the 50/50 IMT Partnership Core Values Resource List.
Learn more about the In Mission Together Partnership Program, the General Board of Global Ministries, and its ministry with the poor.
Contact: Melissa Hinnen, public information officer, 212-870-3833, MHinnen@umcmission.org.