How should mission be done in our ever-changing, complex world?
Generally, we would agree that ‘missionaries need to pursue innovation in their ministries’ so that their communication of the gospel remains relevant and meaningful. In his analysis in ‘Innovative Integration and Collaboration on the Mission Field: A holistic intercultural approach’, Steve Moon reflects on the approaches and processes to evaluate what ‘new and creative ways, expressed through new cultural and technological tools’, would be appropriate, realistic, and faithful to the Word of God. Such evaluation requires much practical wisdom gained through contextualization, integration, and ‘collaboration with diverse people across disciplines, sectors, generations, and backgrounds’. This spirit of innovative integration applies also to mission financing. He recommends ‘integrating faith missions approaches and missional business approaches’ as ‘a realistic solution in many contexts’. The following two articles illustrate the complexity of financial principles and practices of Christian mission and ministry in our world today.
In ‘Beyond Self-Support Fundraising for Missions: Thinking, structures, and practices for Majority World missionaries’, Kirst Rievan addresses the question, ‘Are there ways to make international missions more sustainable and less dependent on the West?’ Although ‘the financial systems of most mission organisations are now more diverse than at their foundation’, their basic principle is still that ‘individual workers are responsible for raising their own support’. This poses great challenges especially for mission workers from the Majority World. The author revisits ‘the general models for financing international mission workers: 1) self support, 2) organisational support, and 3) a hybrid. Each has variations, strengths, and weaknesses’. He recommends changes in ‘thinking, structures, and practices’ and concludes that ‘multiple models’ are the way forward for financial sustainability for international mission organisations.
‘A critical assessment of the cultural and religious dimensions of economics raises fresh questions but also new approaches as to how ministry can be biblically faithful in today’s economic environment’, writes John Cheong in ‘Islamic Economics for Christian Ministry and Mission: What we can learn from zakat, waqf, and Islamic banking’. He illustrates how we can ‘integrate the sociocultural and religious dimensions of economics into missiology’, particularly in Muslim contexts, by ‘examining three aspects of the Islamic economy: zakat (almsgiving/tithing), waqf (endowments/trusts), and Islamic banking (interest-free financing)’ and comparing them with Christian ‘life and witness in relation to the socioeconomic dimensions of life’. He hopes by doing so, we will ‘recover a more holistic gospel that is truly good news to the poor’.
Theologian-activist Ronald J. Sider demonstrated that holistic gospel powerfully through his life, teaching, and writing, as testified by Al Tizon, his personal friend and co-worker, in ‘The Legacy of Ronald J. Sider: Five elements shaping transformational mission today’. His one great impact on global mission is in catalyzing social transformation. His motivation for that ‘came not from humanist altruism, but ultimately from authentic, Christian discipleship—a deep desire to follow Jesus faithfully and radically in the world’. Since its first edition in 1977 to its sixth edition today, Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger has challenged ‘the church to repent and to begin living out the economics of the kingdom’, including practising an ‘economically conscious mission’. His unwavering commitment to ‘a simple lifestyle’ and nonviolence as well as his urging of Christians ‘to enter the public square with the politics of Jesus’ have significantly influenced the ‘contour of mission’ and helped ‘build the kind of society that reflects God’s peace, justice, and righteousness’.
May the articles in this issue guide us in our reflection, and may the legacy of Ronald Sider inspire us to walk and work like Jesus in the world.
Lausanne Global Analysis is also available in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Korean. Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue will be released in November 2023.
Loun Ling Lee serves as the editor of Lausanne Global Analysis. Her previous roles include lecturer in mission at Redcliffe College (UK), training director of AsiaCMS based in Malaysia, mission mobiliser with OMF, and pastor at Grace Singapore Chinese Church.