09 Aug Not Just Donors, But Partners & Friends with God in His Mission
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
In recent weeks, I was communicating with Christian individuals and organizations to raise funding for AsiaCMS – for what we still need in 2019 and for 2020. The funding concern can easily be resolved through a few big donors who will cover our entire budget. However, I do NOT believe that to be the normative biblical pattern for God’s mission.
For AsiaCMS, we do not seek for just a few big donors, but as many partners and friends as possible. Why?
Partnerships and friendships are more important and significant.
Paul’s letter to the Philippian Christians was in part, a thank-you response for their financial gift to him. However, he was looking beyond the financial gift – he valued their partnership. He noted that “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (4:15-17). Hence, he prayed with much thanksgiving for their “partnership in the gospel from the first day” (1:5). This relationship is a big part of Paul’s joy in the letter. It is this partnership that makes the Father heart of God truly glad – when His people join hearts and resources to further His mission.
There is no gift too small.
The same Philippian Christians (in Macedonia) were also commended for their generosity in 2 Corinthians 8. They were not wealthy. They were in fact from the lower socio-economic class. But, “their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity… they gave according to their means… and beyond their means, of their own accord” (2 Cor.8:2,3). Their sacrificial generosity is described as “the grace of God” (8:1). Paul used their exemplary giving to exhort the Corinthian Christians to “excel in this act of grace also” (8:6,7). The significance of the gift is NOT the size of the gift, but the capacity of the giver. Giving to God’s mission is an overflow of God’s grace and as many as possible should experience and excel in this act of grace.
Asian Christians have the responsibility and capacity to give to God’s global mission.
The larger numbers of global Christians are now located in Asia and the non-Western world. For sure, a larger vision of God’s global mission is ramping up in Asian Christianity, especially in the newer churches. But regrettably, a large part of Asian Christianity is trapped in old missional paradigms that centres on growing the faith only amongst their own types of people. Also prevalent is the mistaken notion that missions can only be done by outsiders, and only if money comes in from the West or from Christians in economically-advanced nations. AsiaCMS seeks to be catalytic, to stir more Asian churches and Christians to catch the broader vision of God’s global mission. It is a biblical vision that crosses national boundaries, cultures and socio-economic divides; a vision that all can contribute and give to.
Partners and friends are vested deeper in what you are doing.
God’s mission is never meant to be done alone, but in and through community. Lone-ranger type mission workers or missional endeavours are seldom effective. Effective mission requires an undergirding of intercessory prayer. Donors who are also partners and friends will pray with you – something that we and our Co-mission partners earnestly desire and need. Partners and friends are also potential links to new networks, perspectives and skill-sets that can enhance the effectiveness of AsiaCMS and that of our co-mission partners.
For example, good governance and accountability structures are incredibly important for long-term effectiveness and sustainability. Partners in organizations that excel in these areas can be a resource to help younger leaders pioneer new missional initiatives. Another example – diverse spheres of missions such as church-planting, theological education, community development and social justice are seldom mutually exclusive and compartmentalized in actual practice. Partners and friends with expertise in different fields can potentially bring in infusions of perspectives and trainings that can mutually enrich each other – in ways that go beyond finances.
Missions is partnerships and friendships – with each other and with God, in His mission.
Peace and Grace,
Rev. Chan NamChen (PhD)