MF Behind the Scenes
Dependency: The Killer of People Movements to Christ
Last year we presented the critical need for the De-Westernization of the gospel in order for it to spread naturally throughout the unreached peoples by means of "people movements" to Christ. In this issue we highlight another diafficult, but related issue: dependency in mission. As missionaries from the West and other wealthy areas like Korea have gone out, they have often brought not only their foreign culture, methods and structures, but also the money to support them. The result has been culturally foreign institutions which have continued to depend on outside funding, because they were never indigenous to the peoples the missionaries were working with. These peoples never took "psychological ownership" of the missionaries' work. They became dependent.
This psychological ownership occurs when the people decide that the church or program is theirs and it will succeed or fail depending on what they do, not the foreigner or missionary with foreign money. The gospel itself cannot become indigenous to a people without this kind of ownership and independence from outside control.
This type of ownership is absolutely essential for the gospel to spread naturally and freely to large numbers of people in a "people movement." And a people movement to Christ is what we want to see within every people of the world.
Unfortunately, there are still many in Christian ministries today who are perpetuating this dependency, through the "just send money" approach. Many churches in the US have bought into this scheme as a way of getting more "bang for their missions buck." But what they don't realize is that this "bargain basement" approach to missions is going to blow up in their faces--creating a dependency on the mission field to foreign funds that is deadly to the vibrant, reproducing church planting movements that we want to see within every people. Every church and every people has the God-given privilege and responsibility of supporting their own ministry and cross-cultural outreach. Foreign money robs these peoples of the incentive to give of their lives and resources to support the ministries of their own churches.
If you doubt this, just imagine what would happen to the individual giving in your own church if someone outside started sending millions of dollars to support your church.
All of us must work to defeat the insidious monster of dependency, I encourage you to read carefully the series of articles starting on page 8 and pick up a copy of the video study program that Glenn Schwartz has produced. It will help your church to do more good than harm with your giving. See page 17 for details.
What Should Churches Do With Their Money?
In order to help you make wise giving decisions, we provide here some suggestions based on a list in Glenn Schwartz's video series. Remember that your giving should always encourage "psychological ownership" and models of ministry that are "infinitely reproducible." Western support is a model that national churches cannot reproduce. Never do for others what they can do for themselves. Avoid dependency like the plague that it is.
- Invest in preaching the gospel where it has not yet been preached, such as the unreached peoples of the 10/40 Window.
- Consider providing full missionary support for those whom God calls out of your own fellowship.
- Invest in cross-cultural training for the missionaries your church supports. College and seminary debts often prevent people from making it to the mission field. (You may also want to consider supporting on- field training through distance education. Wycliffe Bible Translators is beginning to use this approach.)
- Invest in Mobilization efforts: This means preparing missionaries to pass on missions vision to the people they are working with.
- Invest in breaking dependency, not creating it.
Let us commit ourselves to overcoming this plague.