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Bridging the Gaps:
A Global Network of Centers for World Mission Accelerates the Completion of the Great Commission
A center for world mission is a strange beast that defies simple description. Its not a think tank, but it conducts strategic research. Its not a foundation, but it mobilizes resources necessary for the completion of world evangelization. Its not a school, but it provides innovative training. And its not a bookstore, but it distributes literature and other materials that Christians really need if they are to know and do all that God expects.
By one count, 40 such centers have sprung up in various countries in the past few years, some in isolation, others with the active encouragement of older centers. Increasingly, these organizations have begun to work together to bridge many of the gaps in what David Barrett, the editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia, has identified as an exploding global evangelization movement.
This fledgling network of centers for world mission received a big boost November 1-5, when 33 representatives of 12 centers and five other organizations gathered at Singapores Metropolitan YMCA to compare notes on their respective ministries and to plan for the networks future. The huddle was hosted by the Singapore Centre for Evangelism and Missions (SCEM) and jointly convened by SCEMs acting executive director, Michael Jaffarian, and the U.S. Centers communications director, Darrell Dorr.
Deliberations at CentreCon
The Singapore consultationdubbed CentreCon for shortbuilt on a foundational agreement prepared by a smaller group in the same city two years ago. The 1986 Singapore Statement on the Global Network of Centres for World Mission defines a center for world mission as an interdenominational, inter-mission organisation working in a support role for the cause of World Evangelisation and especially for the reaching of the unreached peoples.
The November 1988 consultation featured working sessions on such topics as planning mobilization conferences, overseeing mission study programs (such as the Perspectives course developed at the U.S. Center), acquiring and distributing media resources, and developing mission media networks.
Since many centers for world mission are heavily involved in mission research, additional sessions were given to coordinating field research, developing guidelines for sharing research data, and establishing permanent national research functions in conjunction with Global Mapping International. Global Mapping conducted a more in-depth workshop November 7-10 in the same location, acquainting center representatives and other mission leaders with GMIs database, mapping, and data communications tools.
Links to Other Ministries
But how do centers for world mission relate to other ministries in the global evangelization movement? Dorr noted that centers for world mission have served and can continue to serve as implementing agents ready for any good work that might otherwise fall in the cracks between more conventional and less adaptable structures.
The Singapore Statement includes the aspiration that centers work in harmony with the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and the Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Fellowship. Dorr added that other global mission movements, such as Third World Missions Advance and the Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD 2000 and Beyond, have developed since the Singapore Statement was framed and are likewise prime candidates for service by centers for world mission.
Where to Go From Here?
Center leaders took further specific steps at CentreCon to strengthen and widen the global network of centers. An executive committee of six was chosen to foster ongoing interaction, recruit additional centers to the network, and prepare for the next such consultationCentre-Con IIplanned for sometime in 1990.
The members of the 1988-1990 committee are David Cho (East-West Center for Mission Research and Development); Darrell Dorr (U.S. Center for World Mission); Michael Jaffarian (Singapore Centre for Evangelism and Missions); David Price (BCV Centre for World Mission); and two leaders of centers in south Asia who requested that their names not be published. The executive committee appointed Darrell Dorr as network coordinator and David Price as secretary/treasurer.
Four criteria were specified for membership in the network: affirmation of the Singapore Statement; recognition by the executive committee; subscription to the network newsletter, CenterNet; and submission of at least four ministry reports each year.
Consultation participants expressed gratitude for the fruits of CentreCon. David Price commented, It was a great inspiration to feel part of a world movement and sense that in being together. John DAlton, director of the Brisbane Centre for World Mission, praised the great people contact, new ideas, and a structure developed to help us finish the job of world evangelization! And Don Cowey, director of the recently-established New Zealand Centre for Mission Direction, said he gained confidence that we are on the right track.
The Singapore Centres Michael Jaffarian, a Conservative Baptist missionary completing his first term of service and long-time advocate of a conference like CentreCon, said, I think all of us were amazed when we found out what was happening in the various centres around the world. This was tremendously encouraging to each of us, and really an inspiration. I thought I was pretty well informed, but in reality I had no idea of the tremendous things God is doing through these centres. It gave tangible proof to the belief that the Lord our God is raising up a tremendous new frontier mission movement in our day, stemming from all corners of the globe.
As for regrets, participants indicated they were disappointed that only 10 countries were represented, and none from Latin America or black Africa. They asked the executive committeethrough site selection, promotion, and possible travel subsidiesto seek a wider representation of centers at CentreCon II.
For copies of the Singapore Statement, application forms for membership in the global network of centers for world mission, and subscriptions to the CenterNet newsletter, contact David Price, BCV Centre for World Mission, P.O. Box 380, Lilydale, Victoria 3140, Australia, (03) 735-0011. (The CenterNet subscription rate is US$30 for centers, US$10 for observers who order on organizational letterhead and provide ministry references upon request. Payment, to Bible College of Victoria, should be by international money order and in Australian dollars.)
For other information on the growing network of centers for world mission, contact Darrell Dorr, U.S. Center for World Mission, 1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, USA, phone (818) 398-2229, fax (818) 398-2263.
What Is a Center for World Mission?----
Excerpts from the 1986 Singapore Statement
The "Singapore Statement on the Global Network of Centres for World Mission" was prepared, not at the November 1988 CenterCon huddle, but by representatives of five centers who met in the same city in June 1986. This statement attempts, among other things, to define the organization called a "center for world mission." It says:
A Centre for World Mission is an interdenominational, inter-mission organisation working in a support role for the cause of World Evangelization and especially for the reaching of the unreached peoples. A Centre for World Mission is intended to fill a gap not being filled by other mission organizations.
We expect the various Centres to have different histories, to have different organizational structures and links, to have different missiological perspectives, and to emphasize different tasks. We welcome this diversity.
A Centre serves churches, mission agencies, mission associations, and others in one or more of the following ways:
(a) By serving as a Missions Research Centre: conducting, distributing and/or guiding missions research, especially that related to the unreached peoples and how to reach them.
(b) By serving as a Missions Training Centre: building missions awareness and involvement among Christians, preparing missionaries for cross-cultural service, and/or offering specialized training in specific areas.
(c) By serving as a Missions Mobilization Centre: seeking to awaken those who are asleep to missions, seeking to mobilize those who are awake to missions, and seeking to facilitate those who are moving in missions.
(d) By serving as a Missions Resource Centre: distributing from a centralized place a wide range of missions books and media resources to churches, students, leaders, laypeople, and mission organizations.
(e) By serving as a Missions Development Centre: acting as a catalyst for the formation of structures necessary for the advancement of world evangelization.
"The Most Strategic Response to World Need"---
A Network of Centers Anticipated in 1977
In a document written in April 1977 to clarify the rationale for the U.S. Center for World Mission and the William Carey International University, Dr. Ralph Winter anticipated both the need for and the existence of multiple centers for world mission around the world.
In this document, entitled "World Need, World Problems--- Can Missions Make Any Difference?", Winter stated,
"The most strategic overall response Christians can make to world need is a string of nerve centers around the world, centers of a new kind . . . . In every country these centers will have two functions:
"1) . . . They must be information centers concerning unreached peoples within the country where the center is located--- so that foreign mission agencies and expatriate missionaries coming into the country can avail themselves of precise, reliable local guidance as to where the highest priority needs are. Thus they consider their own country a mission field.
"2) . . . They must be information centers managing at least the basic outlines of the mission needs in the rest of the world, so as to help people from their country become strategic missionaries to other parts of the world--- they consider their own country a mission base.
"The task of these centers will be to awaken interest in cross-cultural mission, to stimulate and encourage support, and to do essential studies and strategic thinking about the unmet needs . . . . It is expected that if this [Pasadena] center succeeds, similar centers will no doubt spring into being in other countries (both Western and non-Western) wherever substantial resources and interest in missions exists, and it will be part of the mission of the United States Center for World Mission to encourage such centers and to relate to them . . . ."
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