Non-U.S. Christians Identify Problems in American Missions
Christian leaders from around the world recently met in Dallas to share how the American church is viewed by believers in the Global South. American Christians should understand and help foster local leadership instead of imposing its own model of church overseas, they said.
Fri, Oct. 03, 2008 Posted: 05:35 PM EDT
Christian leaders from around the world recently met in Dallas to share how the American church is viewed by believers in the Global South.
Many of the more than a hundred pastors gathered noted that though the support of the U.S. church is still needed, American Christians should understand and help foster local leadership instead of imposing its own model of church overseas.
The Rev. Reuben Ezemadu of Nigeria, continental director of the Movement of African National Initiatives, said that it seemed that U.S. Christians in the past 15 to 20 years were trying to force its own church structures on the Global South, but that that hasn’t worked.
The African leader asked Americans to recognize the maturity and intelligence of other cultures, and called on American Christians to play a supporting role and allow Africans to take leadership roles.
Similarly, David Ruiz of Guatemala, associate director of the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission, said Latin American Christians have felt ignored or overlooked by Western Christians.
He said Hispanic Christians want to see more humility from their Western counterparts and hope that the West will recognize Latin America’s potential to reshape Christianity worldwide.
The diverse group of pastors from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America were taking part in the North American Pastors’ Consultation on “The Changing Role of the American Church in World Evangelization” on Sept. 22-23.
Church leaders discussed the need for the American Church to have humility and to learn to work together in authentic partnership with other churches around the world.
During the consultation, Dr. Patrick Fung of OMF International, who represented the Asian perspective, recalled the story of missions in China in the years following 1949 when all foreign missionaries were expelled.
Despite no missionary presence, Fung highlighted, the church grew and thrived. Now, the Chinese Church globally is the largest church in the world, he said.
Following each presentation, the pastors held roundtable discussions and concluded that the role of Western Christians in the “glocal” (simultaneously global and local) world is changing dramatically. They said partnership will be key to establishing stronger, mutually supportive links.
Similar meetings will be held around the world to lead up to the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, which is being held in Cape Town, South Africa, Oct. 16-25, 2010. The event, sponsored by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization in collaboration with the World Evangelical Alliance, expects 4,000 participants from around the world.
The original Lausanne Congress, convened by Billy Graham, was held in 1974 and brought Christians from around the globe to focus on world evangelization. A second congress followed in 1989.
Organizers hope the 2010 Congress will help equip the Church for the next decade for world evangelization.
Christian Post Reporter