Over the past 40 years, Global Ministries has engaged in new or renewed mission initiatives in Africa, Asia, Eurasia and Latin America. Following John Wesley’s example, these young United Methodist communities have grown through participating in: class (small group) meetings, lay leadership, Bible study, partnership in action, general and Christian education, attention to physical and spiritual health, and inclusive outreach, including ministry with the poor. Such a holistic approach from the inception of new mission initiatives produces mature, asset-based churches that are locally led and financially self-supporting.
Through the Mission Initiatives, 963 new faith communities were planted in the seven years from 2009–2016 (the goal was 1000). These movements are taking increasing responsibility for their leadership and governance. Vietnam now has local elders; Cambodia has transitioned to an all-indigenous cabinet (district superintendents); and Honduras, Vietnam, Cameroon and Senegal have partnerships with boards of ordained ministry in existing annual conferences so that clergy can be ordained locally. Missionaries are still essential in a range of roles, primarily as trainers, facilitators, and specialists.
Some initiatives have matured to the point of becoming more integral parts of the United Methodist connection. Annual conferences have been established in Russia and other parts of Eurasia. Malawi is now a provisional annual conference and Lithuania and Latvia are districts of the Estonia Annual Conference.