TWINNING – A post COVID-19 approach to missions
At the heart of the Church is an interdependent community of people with a world-wide vision. This commitment to live with an open Bible on a large open map makes an important contribution to global missions. But this also requires an open mind and an open hand – SIGNIFICANT exposure and STRATEGIC partnerships
When contemplating global missions, we need to acknowledge that 40% of the world’s non-believers have many Christians in their own people-groups who can reach out to them. The strategic approach to cross-cultural missions would therefore be to partner with those who already know the culture, the language, and the customs.
This is called TWINNING.
TWINNING is not a new concept in global missions, but it is a neglected concept. For too long missions was a one-way street where there was a ‘sender’ and a ‘receiver’. However, the immediate challenges of COVID-19 have thrusted traditional missions into a new direction. Developing partnerships is the new norm and “twinning” churches with churches, and believers with believers, will take missions beyond traditional limitations and will allow all role-players to play equally significant roles.
In his book Global Transmission, Global Mission – The Impact and Implications of the CoVid-19 Pandemic, Jason Mandryk writes as follows:
“The sudden freeze in global mission and the sharp decline in sending (due to COVID-19) will be a setback at least at first. The loss of committed workers in the harvest field will hurt. The loss of generous giving that sustains not just the work of missionaries, but often of much of the indigenous church, will hurt. However, it also has the potential to create unhealthy dependence, especially if such generosity is not wisely implemented. This is a matter that has been written about at great length in missiological circles, and is increasingly being addressed by the churches planted through missionary activity as well.
Integrity, accountability, and trust are key principles that belong with Christian giving. These principles must operate in both directions. This is especially so when the relationships extend across geographical and cultural boundaries. As large scale, institutional donorship is reduced, organic and relational partnerships between Christian groups will need to thrive. Some are in a place to give; others are in a place to do good deeds amidst great need. Why not work together more directly? But as we have seen in the past, the loss of funds from foreign donors, although regrettable, can also force a transition into healthy autonomy and true innovation. The sudden disappearance of expatriate missionaries is almost always a traumatic experience for fledging churches, but sometimes fledglings need to be pushed out of the nest to truly learn they can fly on their own.
Indigenous ministries and mission movements are able to find ways of doing Kingdom work that are effective, appropriate, and sustainable. And, they can usually do so better than we outsiders, even if we all prefer to do it together! That “sweet spot” in the transition from highly dependent mission fields to indigenously self-sustaining, self-replicating, self-theologizing church movements often occurs earlier than most foreign missions tend to find comfortable. A time like this, when workers face difficulty getting to the field, and when finances are thin on the ground, makes space for grassroots missionary movements to step up. Radical dependence on God becomes the order of the day.”
The future of missions cannot represent the old normal of a pre-COVID-19 world. We now have the unique opportunity to rethink, revitalise and reinvent missions for the 21st century. We would have wasted a good crisis if we simply go back to our old ways.
The future of missions has to be ‘organic and relational partnerships between Christian groups and individuals.’
Paul’s metaphor of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) gives clear encouragement to churches to acknowledge our interdependency, deny our self-sufficiency and to develop partnerships with other parts of the world-wide body of Christ. The Word is uncompromising in addressing the independence that many mission activities sadly reflect: 1 Corinthians 12:20-22 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” is true both for the eye and also for the hand. Different parts of the world-wide Church are called to join together in the essential task of sharing God’s love in a world full of different needs. This is a task that crosses boundaries of culture and language. No part of the Church can do it alone. We need each other. We are called to work in partnership with others.
Cross-cultural partnerships help develop the vision of the Church and of the world. For too long there were those on the giving end of missions and those on the receiving end of missions. TWINNING will strengthen both the ‘giver’ and the ‘receiver’ and will give both role-players the opportunity to change roles from time to time. The fact that the Church is described as a ‘body’, a living organism, will allow for all to discover the joys of reaching cultures previously unreachable. The achievement of this purpose will help to transform the Church and the lives of individual Christians.
THE TWINNING PROCESS
This journey of faith will result in strangers becoming friends and will require that all parties whole-heartedly commit to Kingdom principles in joining hands for a common purpose: unity in Christ through different ministries for the glory of God. It is therefore key, even before involving the wider community, for the key role-players to determine, in a flexible and broad context, the common goals and shared vision.
Churches and groups that twin together in a partnership will subsequently need a clear focus and follow a process of discovery. Relationships don’t just happen; it takes time, trust, and communication.
As a group of consultants at dia-LOGOS, with more than 60 years of joint missions experience, we would like to assist your group to rethink and revitalize your missions strategy in a post-COVID-19 world.
The following process will be discussed in detail with action points, process evaluations and proposals:
- Step 1. Create the dream: This first phase of church twinning starts by determining the VISION:
- Step 2. Investigate the options: The second phase of Church twinning starts by determining the MISSION. This step needs to be approached in the same way that we choose a partner to marry – it is a long-term decision and should take all factors in consideration.
- Step 3. Establish the relationship: This phase of building a partnership is important to ensure that relationships are strong, expectations are clear and principles of working together are established.
- Step 4. Connect the role-players: This is the exciting phase where role-players are physically introduced to one another and twinning officially takes place.
- Step 5. Bridge the GAPS: Congratulations on establishing your partnership – now comes the challenging part. Partners will soon discover that values differ, priorities are not always shared, and worldviews are often worlds apart.
- Step 6. Expand the circle: At last, it is time to launch the twinning partnership officially!
- Step 7. Develop the relationship: This is the fun part of TWINNING. Grow together, share together and multiply together. Agreed activities are undertaken and mission, culture and worship exchanged.
Invite us to come and present this TWINNING seminar at your group/ church/ fellowship.
The seminar will consist of two one-hour sessions looking at:
- A SEASON OF OPPORTUNITIES and
- TWINNING – THE NEW NORMAL.
- We will then close the seminar with an hour of questions, suggestions, and action points.
For more information contact:
- Stefan: 082 952 9800
- Richard: 082 975 9295
- Mike: 082 865 7380