Concept of a Global Missions' Agency

  696 views

This is copied from the CRC News of March 17, 2010: "In addition, the BOT in February agreed to engage in a conversation with agency and agency board representatives about the concept of a global missions' agency that would build on the collaboration that is already occurring among CRCNA mission agencies. 'This will be a conversation of a concept. We have no idea where it will lead,' said Dykstra. 'To me this could be the most exciting and productive initiative for the CRCNA in the last 65 years! If it leads to where I hope and pray it will, we might finally get Word and Deed 'together again'" (the title of Rog Greenway's book of years ago).

Posted in:

The Network hosts user-submitted content.
Posts don't necessarily imply CRCNA endorsement, but must comply with our community guidelines.

Let's Discuss…

We love your comments! Thanks for your help upholding the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Love it! Even if it doesn't result in any efficiency action (ie, combining some things), the conversation will bless us greatly, I anticipate.

Hello Mark and Steve.  Anyone else?!  This convesation supposedly started in March; I haven't seen much of anything on this.  One marginal comment from someone said this wasn't going anywhere... I hope that isn't correct.

Who's at the plate?     Lou

Guide

 Hi Lou, I think those discussions are going on at the upper levels. I haven't heard of anything concrete happening, just meetings. Steve and I are part of an interagency group that works with churches and we meet regularly. We work quite closely to help bring missions to the forefront of churches. On the field, as you probably know, the missions agencies work quite closely as well.

I'd be interested in knowing what sorts of collaboration those "in the pews" would like to see. 

I may not understand the function of these pages*.  But six months have gone by and this is only the forth post on what could be so very important for missions and the denomination.  Where are the "people in the pew"?  They must be reading  the funnies, or who knows what. 

Fellow retired missionary colleagues, where are you?  Short term missions leaders, where are you? 

Lou

PS *Wendy, maybe I should have known that this topic was for "the upper levels."  But then I ask, why did Rev. Dykstra go public with it, and why was it put on this public/social media page?

Hi Lou,

  We live in a very busy world.  The reports I get sometimes show that an article or blog post has been viewed 200 times without a single comment being left.  So the fact that there aren't a lot of posts doesn't mean that people aren't reading and thinking.  Many prefer to ponder, and we need to leave room for that.  There is more and more contact and cooperation across agency lines, but erasing those lines altogether is not quickly embraced, as you know.  There are a lot of issues.  Thanks for being engaged.  Steve 

I am not quite sure what you are really talking about here.  Its a bit sketchy--for those who are staffing our agencies maybe.  I am not intending to be critical, just that I would like to engage in this discussion.  Observation---if we are really serious about reaching the globe more affectively--we still have not discovered how to fully engage gifted business men.  Word and Deed is fine, and vital--but the churches with the greatest potential to reach the 10-40 window live in impoverished countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria.  They are ready to go--access is easier for them into 10-40 countries.  They are generally well trained.  

The best way to resource the churches of Africa is to mobilize our CRC business men and farmers into genuine partnerships that are capable of attracting huge amounts of capital and creating transformational industries within and alongside of our brothers in the Christian Community.  They are waiting---for us to mobilize our business community, and I think the business community would heartily respond.  Partners world wide is a start in this direction, but is being led by development people with limited experience in business--so we are still doing development work, when its huge economic transformation that we are capable of---I mean the CRC business community.

Oh boy, Daniel!  Thanks for picking this up after nearly 10 months of no posts (I hope Steve's guess that some are reading it  is correct.  And here I'm going out on a limb to see if we can provoke a few more comments:  In the light of how little we know of the real reasons for our E.D. (in the computer generated Spanish translation that went out that became "erectile dysfunction"!) Jerry Dykstra's resignation, might it even be that this long-time super sticky issue was one of the things that generated conflict?  I have no way of knowing and am not trying to start a rumor (yes, maybe surface some facts!).  But as Steve alludes, that closer cooperation between agencies (read especially CRWM and CRWRC) which is "not easy" and  "there are a lot if issues" could very well be one of the areas that continues to plague our denomination.  The latest rumor I hear out this direction (Holland MI) is that CRWRC would like to work more indepentedly so as to have a still wider influence.  ??? (fair/ "appropriate"?) (Now please re-read the initial post on this topic, above)

   Daniel, I was a translator for Partners Worldwide last year, and came away with a couple books and a video that have been informative.  And with ongoing involvement in support of a very small and often ineffective Word and Deed Project in Central America I am well aware of the realities and aspirations of different sectors.  I would caution you on the use of words such as "reaching the globe" (OK we must be World Christians in an age of Globalization) and "huge amounts of capital." While there is tremendous potential in the CRC and others that think and act like us, we still must be duly aware both of the scope of the challenge and the humble limits of our potential.  I'd almost suggest you send your ideas to the IMF!

And know that I am a (retired) "missionary pastor."  I am of the period that experienced the transition from more ecclesiastical mission models and methods to the enterprise and business way of doing the Lord's work.  The jury is still out on what the results of that will be.  Your suggestion that the CRC business community is capable of making a "huge economic transformation" is saying quite a bit; maybe too much?  And to introduce a fascinating ideological element into this discussion, until more of our CRC businessmen genuniely understand where a lot of the developing world is "at" on the   questions of economic models and production methods, we have a lot of work to do.

   Too long already... over to you, and hopefully some others as well, especially non-staff folk (whose services I very much do appreciate).    Lou

Participant

As a lay-person and retired businessman my travels to Africa (South, West) have taught me to adapt to and learn how best to 'help' by listening, learning and hearing what African businesspeople and churchpeople need and want expatriates like me to do. And it is not always money handouts, rather it is sourcing, providing information and learning capacity  building possibilities.

Tell us a bit more, Fronse, about the difference between "handouts...and sourcing."   

Also the "capacity building" component; aren't the develoment people quite expert at that?        -Lou

Participant

I will try Lou, Handouts are (to me) when people come to say a rural area, bring their own tools and materials, build a room, house or clinic and then leave. The people 'helped' are left with a building they did not participate in building and the building thus is not theirs. Too often the local craftspeople are not involved, and too infrequently the local unskilled people are not trained in a craft (carpentry, stonebuilding, roofing) .

Sourcing is when local craftspeople, local materials, and local resources are identified first then used. This includes labor. If there are no craftspeople, then training is given and the congregants on site build for themselves. Elders are invovled in the conceptualization and implementation of a project BEFORE outside people are brought in.

This is not true of medicines, medical supplies, medical machinery that are not available.

Another way I can express this is the 'source' must the people themselves, collectively working together.

All of what I've written above is capacity building to me because when 'we' leave people have not just a building but knowledge to do for themselves.

There are two 'development' definitions: Capacity Building and Fundraising.

Hi Lou,

  Just a quick response to your comment that I "guess that some are reading it."  Actually, in this modern era, the stats are all compiled electronically.  647 views of the page have happened since it was first posted, exactly.  Steve

Sadly, my four paragraphs of comments disappeared when I pressed the back arrow!!  So this will be a shorter version of the earlier version, with some additional comments where my back arrow led me astray!!  Mike Kiekover here... 

In order to keep my train of thought going, I will paraphrase my earlier comments... 

I only have the prior 11 posts to refer to in my response.

CRC missions (and this covers both CRWRC and CRWM) have done a great job of educating - training students from early elementary age through seminary.  We've also been very successful in the area of health and health administration.  But the days of sending a missionary out to be the teacher of students in a single, isolated school are over, in my opinion. 

My experience is entirely in Nigeria, so it may not apply to some other areas.  My thoughts are personal reflections based on my years of experience in Nigeria. 

The CRC has failed to realize the power and impact that Christian businessmen have in the church!  By this, I am not referring to local churches here in North America.  I am referring to local churches in the country where missions is taking place - in my case, Nigeria.  They have the means to empower and support the church, not just our foreign investments! We need to foster and to encourage them, mentoring them to become more productive and to better live their Christian walk Monday thru Saturday.

But we need to do so very carefully and in a new way.  I have a very hard time accepting that we can preach to a Nigerian how to live as a Christian businessman, when none of us have been a Nigerian businessman and know how business operates in a highly corrupt environment.  My discussion on how to avoid corruption truly has little merit when I live in a house built by mission hands, in a compound secured by  24 hour guards and towering walls with razor wiring atop them, being paid a US dollar salary and not having to worry about my income source being shut down by corrupt officials or goverment employees! 

By encouraging and opening opportunities for the businessman to be successful, we only empower the church to be more productive and responsive to the needs of its congregants thru the success of the businessman.  Such a church is able to go out into its own community and meet the needs of those around them in ways that show the love of Christ most effectively.

What we need now is to press the missionary to become the trainer of trainers.  The high school teacher needs to spread his or her wealth of information and cutural awareness with those within the community who are also teachers.  He or she should facilitate and open the door to hosting and accomodating educators from NA to lead short seminars to empower and morally support those in similar fields. 

The administrator needs to lead seminars on accounting to local church accountants, giving them the tools necessary to making their jobs more fulfilling.

The mechanic needs to run a for-profit shop, offering training sessions regularly to other mechanics in the area, showing them how to read wiring diagrams, helping them to access repair information and training seminars, both online and by hosting people from NA to lead seminars. 

It's thru training and living a life outside the comfort of those walls that we will truly have an impact on the society at large who so desperately need to see Christ's love in a tangible way!

I guess I wrote enough for y'all to ponder for now!  Blessings!

Mike

 

Regarding the use of businessmen to strengthen the church.   This should be a natural for us with our concept of the Reformed faith integrating every sphere of society, but very little thought has been developed in this area.  Business is often thought as being to contaminated by “worldliness”, and yet the CRCNA has some of the greatest (and wealthiest) business people in the world.  Profitability when doing business as mission is looked at unfavorably.

Our business community should be engaged not simply as mentors, but as angels and investors—doing business as business—using best business practices.  This should always be as profitable a relationship for all the parties involved as possible.  When we do business as charity, or even as developmental aid we do not do business as well as it needs to be done.

What we need to create a  small-cap funds, mission venture funds, and seed money funding (which we have)  that permit Christian US business people and investors to engage hand in hand with the Christian business community in Africa, Asia, and South America---in places where we or others are extending the gospel of the kingdom through church planting, and diaconal ministries.    Mike, if I understand your comment  regarding “our investments” it strikes me that you have a fear of a mutually profitable relationship that should be nurtured between Christian business men from both sides of the equation.  I am guessing that you are not a business person---most development workers are not business people.

Sound business investment practices alongside are Christian brothers in countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria can when done as business bring an end to severe poverty.  When business is done as charity it falters and fails.  What I am saying is known by Christian businessmen in Ethiopia.  They get it immediately.  I am not capable of mentoring them—if they have survived as businessmen in their setting, they are often

We are trying to launch a three wheeled, rural automobile factory in partnership with Ethiopian partners.  We are in the 3rd phase of our development.  As we move to our fourth phase we anticipate being able to attract $3 million.  The 5th phase  $12 million.  And we should have a several models that will work in the rural agricultural setting.   Poverty is the absence of $$$ capital.  Business is the solution to poverty—not development aid.   We hope to undergird the huge Christian community in Ethiopia with the resource of affordable transportation.   We hope to have a program that will permit a church planter to own a rural transport vehicle that will generate enough income to support his family.

We have a partnership and ownership of a 600 acre farm in Southern Ethiopia. If we could attract $300,000 investment to this farm we would be able to establish a partnership model between U.S. investors and the farmers we are working with there.    This are of Southern Ethiopia, and Southern  Sudan is huge—as big as the breadbasket of the Midwest.  Their largely Presbyterian.  They want us to partner with them.  We—the CRCNA with its millionaire farmers could wipe out the cycle of hunger in the horn of Africa.   But we need to move to a totally different paradigm to have this kind of impact.

Participant

Well said Mike ! You make very salient points !

Great to get your input, Mike.  Your dad (who forwarded my note to you)  and I have been friends and missionary colleagues two continents apart for all these years; so good now to get some perspective from the next generation.  Our son John is presently in Tanzania and South Africa doing what you suggest: training trainers (in church strengthening and growth.

You've put out a lot of suggestions that our leaders, in the various dimensions of mission, will have to take into account.  Those are in many ways more complex than some of the things we did in our roles.  But if that is what it takes then we must gear up for that.     -Lou

Guide

I have very much enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I just returned from a trip to Uganda where a church from North America is developing a relationship with a church in Uganda. What struck me most was the similarity between the two churches, even though divided by so much distance. Also how vibrant that church in the "developing world" is! 

Regarding engaging businessmen: I hesitate to say that money cures everything. But I do hope that they feel they can get involved through our agencies. What do you think should be done to improve that? What would that look like?

Lou: CRWRC is seeking clarification about fiscal autonomy, as government agencies want to be assured that we have control over our finances and that it's not really controlled by CRCNA. We are still very much committed to partnering with other agencies and we couldn't function without the support and partnership with our churches.

Thanks, Wendy... I'll likely need more clarification as to what you mean by "fiscal autonomy."  You say "our agencies...."

In relation to what Daniel writes an hour later, I'm a bit puzzled.  Not sure who you are in Ethopia with (I know the OPC has had a lot of work there years ago; had to leave, I believe.  You mention "presbiterians."    What I'm wondering is if you have seen what a CRWRC spin-off - Partners Worldwide - is doing.  Check out their websire, see if you can get some ideas from them. They have quite a bit of info online, and some publications. 

Limited time just now, but this to keep us going.     Fraternally, Lou

Guide

Hi Lou, the "our agencies" with which I hope that business people feel they can engage with referred to CRCNA agencies in general (CRWRC, CRWM, and PWW although it's not an official "agency")

The fiscal autonomy was referencing just CRWRC.  I can see where that would be confusing, since in the first paragraph I used "we" as in representing all of CRCNA, and in the second I was referring just to the agency for which I work. 

Lou,  I have been working in Ethiopia (16 visits) since adopting a son there in 2004.  I work under Mission Ethiopia and First Mission after being requested by church leaders from Ethiopia to return.  Yes the OPC has a very small work in Ethiopia.  The PCA has a ministry to AIDs people, Rehoboth CRC from NM, has a strong relationship with Bethany and a children's home called Yezelem Minch.  The Presbyterian Church of Ethiopia was restarted in 2002 with two small congregations, but it has grown to 84 churches since in part by uniting with former Presbyterians who were forced to join the Lutherans by the communist regime in the 80's.  I also work closely with the Ethiopian Orthodox leaders and the Mennonite churches. 

The PCUSA has had a long term mission work in Southern Sudan and Ethiopia since the early 1900's, and the Dinka, Anuak and Nuer are largely conservative presbyterians today, eager for a relationship with churches in the U.S. from the Reformed persuasion.

Hi Dan,

  You mentioned Partners Worldwide very briefly with the comment that it was being run by development people.  But the point if PWW is to engage Christian business people here in North America.  All the people that I know working with Majority world partners are business people.  I'm forwarding the conversation to Greg Elzinga who was in the business world for a number of years before going to world for Partners.  Steve

I've been meaning to respond to the original comment about Partners Worldwide being run by 'development people' and not 'business people' but I've been tied up in my work of "engaging, equipping and connecting business people in global partnerships which grow enterprises, create jobs and transform the lives of all involved."

If that sounds canned it's because that is the mission statement of PW. It's true that many of the staff positions at PW were originally done by people who had experience and credibility in the international development arena, but it's important to remember that the idea for PW was created by business people who felt as though God wanted them to do more than just write checks to mission agencies. They knew that they were called to be good stewards of the financial resources entrusted to them but God has also equipped them with business skill, experience and talents that can be used in a very practical way in the fight against global poverty. The marketplace is the one arena that brings people together...regardless of religion, race, tribe, nationality or socio economic status. I firmly believe God is beginning to do things in and through the marketplace which could lead to the next spiritual revolution.

I have not served internationally but I do have 16 years of business experience working with a couple of large companies...AT&T and FedEx and my four years at Partners Worldwide has opened my eyes to the tremendous impact that Christian business people can have on building the Kingdom of God...both economically, spiritually and socially. While there's always room for improvement, I believe PW has done an effective job at engaging the time, talent and treasure of Christian business people in helping to deal with the challenges of poverty through the growth of small businesses and creation of sustainable jobs (click here for stories).

As I skimmed through the comments made in this entire string, I realize my experience pales in comparison to most of the folks that have been contributing. I openly admit that dealing with the challenges of global poverty are immense and complex, but I think the western church has spent an inordinate amount of resources of approaches that have not addressed some the root causes but merely treat the symptons. I'm not so bold as to say that business is the only answer, but I do believe it is a very important part of the long-term solution and God is calling more and more Christian business people to seek ways that they can be part of the solution in a way that honor and glorifies him through the use of the time, talent and treasure.

Many of you have probably seen the Poverty Cure video, but for those who haven't click here.

Greg,  A most excellent response and it appears that we agree almost 100%.  Especially on the "important part of the solution" to poverty being from Christian business people who engage in partnerships of various kinds with our brothers and sisters in areas of severe poverty.   Some of my  friends are engaged in development work.  And I applaud what PW is doing--I am only suggesting four things:

  1) Be aware that the paradigms that you work with come out of the development habitat, and that there is a significant paradigm shift that is required to think like business people.  More importantly business people will follow you because of your development experience, and not always transfer business thinking to the new setting.  An example: Development workers are much more comfortable going into a poor neighborhood, and getting to know the small shop owners and poorest of the poor, with a heart to improve their condition.  A business man in the U.S. when looking for the best business partner would not even think of going to look for a partner in the lower income stata of society.  He is looking for someone with an education, motivation, business savvy and significant skills.  Most of these types are found in the middle class, with whom much larger businesses might be created. 

2) We need to start more than a loan fund for incubating businesses inpoor countries.  We need to start a Christian Venture Capital Firm that will help capitalize US businessmen who are looking to partner with business people in the third world.  This approach acknowledges that some of the controlling interest and profit for the new venture should go to  all the partners involved, and that the U.S.business person's level of engagement needs to be higher than just that of a mentor, if the businesses are really going to prosper and be able to attract even greater capital flows.  Lack of access to capital is the greatest need in poor countries--We have yet to really address this issue in significant ways. 

3) We need to find ways (maybe PW is doing this--I have been away from PW for several years) to engage pastors in an awareness of how to empower and nurture business people to their Kingdom building potential.  While one may want to keep us pastor types away from PW, most pastors do not know who to equip and mobilize business people to fully use their passions and skills.  PW could change that.

4) PW at its summits needs to create better forums where conventional thinking can be challenged and discussed.  Up to now PW seems to shy of such kind of engagement.  So it requires people like me to give a bit of a nudge.

 

Regarding Parrtners, Lou and Steve, they do wonderful work and are deeply involved with business men who do great work.     I used to attend there annual summits regularly, one of the only pastors who has.   But the basic paradigm is still "charitable, business development", and is led from the context  of development work and not business as business as done here in the U.S.  When our business men become "charitable, business mentors" they do wonderful work, and some may even invest some funds throught the global development funds---but they do not do business as if it were their own, or as if they were fully vested, full at risk partners where they are willing to lay it all on the line as they had to when they did busiesss successfully in the States.  As a result there are limits to their potential for successful business outcomes.  There is an artificality that limits the businesses potential to attract huge amounts of capital to the business enterprises.   There are huge opportunities for profitable enterprises in places like Ethiopia, but we create an artificial barrier that prohibits charitable businessmen from the Christian community in the U.S. from entering such opportunities in partnership with Ethiopian believers as  a for-profit enterprise.   As a result the amount of capital, technology transfer etc. are limited and retarded.  The Chinese, the Arabs, and the Indians enter these countries to do business--- our Christian businessmen wonder why we are not present with them.  They prefer us because even when we do business as business we have a different kind of relationship that is fair and without avarice.

Lots of good information, and perspective, in your two posts, Daniel.   Steve and Wendy, strikes me now is the time to get someone from the "business as mission" people into the conversation (not really my field, tho it interests me, having translated last year for a PWW conference).

Also Mike Kiekover, who may not be seeing this again - I'll contact him directly.  As you can see on his July post, he has insight and first-hand experience with this kind of topic.     -Lou

I emailed the conversation to Greg Elizinga of Partners Worldwide.  He is currently in India, but said he would get in on this conversation ASAP.  Steve

Participant

This conversation is great and I appreciate the dialogue and information. I am learning more than I 'thought I knew'!!

Thanks to all

Fronse, greetings, where ever you are (you referenced travels to parts of Africa earlier)...    If you haven't seen the book "My Business, My Mission" you will get some good perspective from people who are doing that.  But you sound as if you are already into things like that; in which case, carry on the conversation with some of the staff people perhaps.  Steve VZ can put you in touch with them ( I have it on his grapevine that someone may be contributing soon to this conversation also)          - Lou

Participant

Thank you Lou, I have been doing lay-person business consulting in Zambia, South Africa and Senegal since 1993 in conjunction with my wife Germaine who centers on education advocacy for African students seeking higher education at Hope College, Western Seminary and Calvin College.

As a career Pharmaceutical Purchasing Manager now retired, MBA GVSU, etc. I made a life commitment to make a difference in Africa and America years ago. I am more than willing to discuss my experiences at any time.

I have a Linkedin.com profile page, my email is [email protected]

Let me switch my comments away from the topic of the role of business in missions to a rough sketch of how we should focus our mission resources both people, time and funds.    

First, let me say that part of my experience and education comes from being raised in on one of the most dysfunctional mission fields in the CRC's history---our first foreign mission field among the Navajo people.  It was dysfunctional and still perpetuates that dysfunction because of parentalism, dependancy, control issues, and a general failure to raise up and release leaders.     We essentially failed to apply the principles of self-governence, self-support and self-propagation.  When I look at CRC missions as a whole we have done better over time, but still make some of the same mistakes.

Our mission strategy with both CRWM and CRWRC need to simplify our approach to several basic mechanisms that stand beside our brothers in the churches we serve in other countries.  

1) We should say to any evangelical denomination that we will support and resource their church planting efforts with 80% of a decent salary for every church planter that their local churches raise up and send out.  In Ethiopia this would be $80/month.  In Mexico it might be $480/month.   This support will decline over a 5-6 year period--and may be susttained longer if new church planter begins a second congregation after 3 years.

2) We will support the development of mini-seminary training (5 lessons on each seminary course) put on laptop computers--filmed in the language of the church planter by a more educated pastor.  We will support these "apostolic" educated leaders with a higher salary (x3) and expense budget.  We may also support 

3) We will send pastors from our U.S. churches twice a year to participate in conferences for these pastors--who with their congregations in the U.S. will develop distance pastoral relationships with key leaders in these church planting efforts.

4) CRWRC will focus primarily on helping various denominations set up "diaconal conferences" that assist pastors and their deacons in ministering to the poor.   These diaconal conferences will be shown how to run micro-loan programs, provide startup funds for businesses, provide loans for private school development, and advise in special projects that are being developed---sourced by the people in the conferences.

5)  We will limit our field staff to a few country coordinators whose job is to know the partners with whom we engage, and oversee the development of 1-4.   Note: It costs us around $100,000 annually to field a missionary--who drive around in nice Toyota Land Cruisers while our partners in ministry struggle with transportation.   For $100,000 we could help local congregations send 100 church planters in Ethiopia and most of sub-Saharan Africa.

6) We would also become very intentional about raising up Christian businessmen, and investors who would selectivvely joint venture with Christian businessmen in businesses that have potential for economic transformation.

Most of the denominational leaders with whom I work in Ethiopia would love this approach to partnering with them.  Most are more capable than I am, as are the businessmen.  While some mentoring takes place between us, it is really the encouragement, prayers, and resources that they desire.

The rough sketch that I propose above will probably not be easily embraced because we are comfortable as things have been done in the past.  But the CRC could release 5-10,000 church planters if we pursued this type of approach, and our ties between US churches would be greatly enhanced. 

 

"While you were sleeping...." Wow!  Daniel, you have quite an agenda, and one while not unfamiliar to me, is "bigger than both of us"!  And throw in a whole lot of others for good measure!   I trust that this will get the attention of some folk, both in the trenches and in the  offices.  I'll try to call this piece to the attention of a few people I know, and see where it goes.  Steve, we count on you to get this circulated also (OK, people see this here...good) beyond this site to a few key people you know.

(forgive me, but I'm on three, four other "projects" right now that are stretching me time wise; but I respect the topic/issue)

Participant

Brother Daniel, Your plans sound feasible and I concur on most points. I would offer the concept of utilizing the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, Univ of Stellenbosch, the Reformed Church in Zambia and Justo Mwale Theological College all who have active programs touching on your numbered items especially seminary, diaconal training and church planting. Working on-the-continent with established Reformed institutions and the URCSA will be efficient and practical.

You have thought well and shared your wisdom ideas and I thank you.

Fronse,  Can you make some modificationns to what I wrote and inform me regarding additions.

Participant

Brother Daniel, I'm not sure if modifications are needed. My key question is HOW a strategic, cohesive discussion can take place in the CRWRC and other agencies with business people who are CRC and other serious interested parties. For me I've learned to read as much as I can that is available from CRCNA about Mission and to trust their leadership to shape and guide members' participation. This said, it has not been easy and requires faith, trust and communication.

You know 'Business' thinking is different from the norm and too often structure has to be understood to navigate positively.

I view this forum. Fronse as something of a "think tank" where policy that affects the global mission of the CRC is dicussed openly, and hopefully that it those who have responsibility for setting mission policy egage in the discussion and adjust some of what they think and how they set policy accordingly.  

As we think about how we carry on the "mission" of the church I have been looking at three issues.  The first has to do with general missionn philosophy as it affects policy.  This has to do with how we can most affectively deploy resources and people the most effectively.  the 2nd issue which we have also been discussing has to do with how to best engage and mobilize the Christian business community in both the mission of the church and in economic development empowerment.  The 3rd issue which also affects this discussion of mobilizing the body of Christ effectively, is how we partner with other Christians both at home in in missions (I have addressed this more in the forum on the Belhar confession).  

Your comments in a previous commment about the Reformed churches in Zambia and South Africa relate to this issue.  Our we as "Reformed" thinking people most effective in extending the gospel of the kingdom by partnering and encouraging other Reformed communities with our resources and time.  Or are we also effective in extending the gospel of our king as effeccitvely by engaging with denominational mission aspirations from various evangelical fellowships who are aggressively engaged in church planting.

So let me again suggest that you address the six points--amend them, add a 7th point.

Participant

My emphasis has and remains focused on implementation that will build stronger African churches and denominations in Africa.

Philosophical or theoretical discussions I must admit are NOT my strong point. Strategy yes, the Great Commission yes, going and consulting in Africa yes.

In lay church language: I am not 'comfortable' with policy discussions, debates and meetings that will not uplift the Church in Africa. I am just being honest.

Participant

Brother Daniel

7), I believe participation by ALL stake-holders is needed before proceding in continuing an important dialogue such as this. This is my wisdom sense. This includes our Missions and Reformed African church partners. Our partners' ideas suggestions and wisdom should shape forward positive shaping of our business involvement in Africa.

Fronse,

 Let me say that one of our goals is to place before those who do make policy decisions with perceptive insight that will nudge them to make quality changes that affect our churches and Christian business community in Africa.   My motivation is quite simple and comes from being on the streets of Addis--and making a decision not to give often to beggers, but to spend myself on behalf of the poor with real answers.  It also comes from working with church leaders from various denominations--and helping plant over 80 churches in 3 years.  It comes from watching a missionary family loading up into a brand new Toyota land cruiser, and knowing that my short-term mission work on my own budget probably produced more mission transformation than the paid staff person.
 I am aware of the power of "perceptive insight" on mission policy.  In the early 80's CRC home missions rejected the idea of seminarians planting churches--until as sem students a few of us challenged that notion--and said that graduating seminarians were the ideal planters.  Home Missions proceeded to develop a church planters internship for graduating students--that greatly increased the number of churches being planted. In the mid-80's I pointed out to Home Mission leaders that their campaign of 400,000 CRC members by 2000 would not happen unless they changed how clergy were trained and raised up.  Seminary simply was not developing enough graduates to meet the need for new churches, besides seminary graduates tended to be more oriented toward status quo ministries than those raised up and trained by alternate means.  The Leadership Development Networks resulted from this conversation, as well as a greater opening for the use of evangelists trained by different means to be pastoring new churches. "Perceptive Insights" come when you and I see dysfunction, dependency relationships, and parental-ism at work in how we support missions.  "Perceptive Insights" gain momentum with those who make missions policy when someone like you concurs that $100,000 spent on an ex-pat missionary staff could support 80 church planters in Zambia at $100/mos/planter.   This is the same cost for evangelists in Ethiopia---but I suggest that we only provide 80% of the support--while an Ethiopian sending church provides the other 20%. Changing mission policy is not easy.  Folding up dysfunctional commitments in missions is even harder.  Withdrawing funds, and redirecting them for more effective strategies is painful and requires leaders of mission agencies to sacrifice.  Many people are comfortable in the mission jobs they have, and are satisifed with the fruit of their labors, even if it is less effective than other strategies.

I am curious, as a newcomer to the CRC denomination and as a missionary kid, how all of you see the role of your Churches in supporting existing government and agency collaborative efforts that  address international poverty issues in our own communities? I am thinking specifically of how churches and individuals become involved in assisting refugees in their resettlement (or becoming a refugee foster parents).

Guide

Hello Elizabeth, I was going to suggest Bethany Christian Services, but I notice from your profile that you are already aware of them :-)

In the U.S., CRWRC and the Office of Social Justice partner with Bethany Christian Services' PARA in the area of refugee resettlement, and we encourage our churches to get involved.

In Canada, CRWRC is more actively involved in refugee resettlement since in Canada churches can actually be the sponsoring organization.

Here is a link to more information: http://www.crcna.org/pages/osj_refugees.cfm

Hi Dan,

I remember you visiting in the World Missions offices a few years ago.  It would be good to talk again, especially given the very significant changes in CRWM in the intervening years.  Some of these can't be trumpeted due to security concerns, but lots of them can be seen on our website. 

I'm thinking of one of our West Africa missionaries, whose work in a Muslim context can't be posted on our website.  He had many of the concerns you have expressed about Land Cruisers, so he adopted a trekking strategy in which he walks to villages, meets with village elders to ask permission to share about Issa and has opportunity then to do pre-evangelism with people who have had no previous exposure to the Gospel.  Like many of our missionaries in Muslim contexts, he avoids the word Christian since it is associated with all the evils of Western culture.  They talk about being a Jesus' follower, instead.

Many people suppose that our agency is primarily involved in church planting in places where there are already lots of Christians, but very little of that is going on.  In addition to those doing pioneer evangelism among unreached peoples, the great majority of our missionaries in the "reached" world are involved in leadership training and resourcing national churches who have asked us for assistance.  One of the great new tools for this is Timothy Leadership Training.  It was developed by Harold Kallemeyn and others to bring just-in-time training to pastors in Africa where extensive in-residence training would be ineffective even if it were possible.  It focuses on an inductive approach and action planning which the participants hold each other accountable for.

We do also provide grants to partner churches to try to jump start new ministries.  At times we have provided as much as 80% of the funding at the beginning.  Going forward, with many mature partners that we work with, we would look for even more local initiative in most cases.  It has been a long and difficult process to shift from "mission driven ministry" to "coming alongside" ministry.  We are not there yet.  However, the focus in areas of the world where there are substantial numbers of Christians is more and more on the local vision.  As Fronse pointed out, that must be central to the conversation.

Now this may sound self-protective to you, and perhaps it is in part.  But the changes are significant, and one of our great challenges is helping the churches understand what is going on and how we are responding to the changing environment.  There are lots of models for how to engage.  I don't think we would want to say that ours is the best, and it certainly isn't the only way.  Mission India, headed by one of our alumni, has a different approach, Gospel for Asia a third.  So, let's keep up the dialogue.  Steve

Guide

I want to thank everyone for their participation in this forum, and encourage lurkers (you know who you are) to join in if you have questions or further ideas.

As Steve alluded, it is very difficult to explain the strategies of entire agencies in sound bites on a forum. I have forwarded a link to this discussion to CRWRC's codirectorate and a few others, and all have said that they are more than willing to talk to anyone who would like to talk more in depth about these issues. 

To expand our thinking a bit, I'm sharing (with her permission) Susan Van Lopik's thoughts on the topic. She is our director of program excellence:

 

 

Our Reformed WorldView provides the basis for anyone to see their vocation as part of the mission of God. Thanks be to God for pastors, business people, students, social workers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, investors, etc. who understand and accept a call to work in God's Kingdom using the gifts they have been given. Poverty, hunger and injustice are issues that are so complex that many approaches are necessary, and thus the gifts of many are required.  While economics plays a very big role in both the cause and solution to poverty, hunger, and injustice, it is not the one and only cause nor solution. While supporting world wide business development can play a part in creating change that is necessary to bring hope to the poor, the hungry and the oppressed, business alone cannot create the change that is needed. 

It is ugly to look upon poverty, hunger and injustice, and to grapple with the sin in this world that gives birth to these tragedies. Yet, in the midst of this pain we see people coming together, communities around the world recognizing their own assets, strengths and abilities to create change for themselves. We see local business people in Nigeria who work in peacebuilding and reconciliation, beyond creating financial capital, but building social capital as well. God's mission is 3-D, a world of layers and nuances, there is a place for each of us, a deep place for each of us to bring our gifts in service to God.

Thank you Wendy for bringing Susan's thoughts into the discussion.  Susan, your insight into the complexity and nuances of these issues while relevant and essentially on target.  It is a wonderflul thing to watch the variety of passions and vocations that God has placed in our world to bring light and hope into dark places.  I have oftened wondered and grappled with being bi-vocational--loving the pastoral ministry and at the same time being an entrepeneur with a huge interest in economics and  finding solutions for the poor among the Navajo and now in Africa.

Let me also say that your comments feel like a mild rebuke and a bit pedantic, and  a "leave it to professionals".   You are right that economics and business are not the sole solution to issues of poverty and injustice.  While that is true enough what we are saying is that the balance for resolving poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has not yet tipped adequately in the direction toward economics and business and that much that is done in the name of charity and development work actually perpetuates the factors that sustain poverty.   

After a long carreer in development work, a former, long term director of CRWRC realized that business people in our churches in the U.S. were being under-utilized in their vocation as business people.  Along with Denny Hoekstra, John DeHaan worked to establish Partners Worldwide.   This organization has moved the issue we are discussing forward a 1000 fold with positive results and huge potential.  Partner's focus has accelerated the issue up the first step of a 10 step ladder.  It's primary focus is on using businessmen as mentors which is valuable, but it has not really found ways to use businessmen, as businessmen.  What business men on both sides of the Ocean need is permission, and encouragement to create Christian Venture Capital Funds, and Joint Venture projects, and Limited Liability Corporations that transfer U.S. technology, resources and capital to business partners and partner farmers in Southern Sudan, or Ethiopia.   Whenever business trys to function as charity or development work it looses its potential to transform economies, it has a limited capacity to attract huge amounts of capital to areas of poverty.

 By the way poverty is essentially a lack of money---yes, I know there are many other issues involved in poverty--education, infrastructure, etc, but in the end if we find ways to attract billions of dollars to sub-Saharan industries that we (CRC business people) have joined with our Christian brothers to create, then we will have done serious poverty reduction.

This discussion is very important, because it is presently the leaders in the Christian Relief and Development organizations who carry the philosophical agenda, and create the concepts or levers of influence within the Christian community.

Christian businessmen in Africa already get it when they watch Muslim businessmen enter partnerships with Ethiopian Muslim business people--and they ask "where are the Christian business people and their money and expertise?"  They get it when they see Chinese businessmen come in and buy a cement plant and run it profitably,  and they ask---where are the Ozinga's from Chicago.  We could partner with them--it would be profitable for both of us--and the profits could be rolled over to partner  with an engineering firm run by a Christian woman to secure contracts to build roads that can compete with the Chinese road building company.  They get it when the see Indian business men come in and lease a 12,000 hectare farm, to be run like a plantation,  and they ask where are the Christian farmers from the U.S.  Ten Ethiopian farmers who presently make $500/year farming 5 acres, would eagerly partner with 2 or 3 CRC farmers to create a 1000 hectare farm where they would make $15,000+/year, and over-time buy out there CRC partners--who roll it over and do it again with two 1000 hectare farms.  CRC farmers let's go farm in Africa and wipe out the cycle of famines in the Horn of Africa.

As long as our development work in Africa is focused on the poorest sectors and the small farmers, and the micro-business, and small business men we will be guilty of not using the business community in the U.S. and Canada as there vocation really works.   We will also be guilty of sustaining poverty and not addressing the economic factors that can re-shape a new day.

Participant

We are doing well in this discussion and appreciation is  given to all participants. I am asking that we all include

an olde gospel song: "Standin' in the need of prayer" in our ' way forward'  to uplift the Church in Africa.

It is with God helping us that we can work together with our African partners, pastors, elders, deacons, congregants and lay buisnesspeople. I believe we are called to provide poles to the people we are teaching to fish.

Yes, we stand in need of a lot of prayer, and the attitude that comes with it to help us all agree to walk togethr.

Steve,

I am very appreciative of your response.  Very open, honest, and on target.  I am aware of the limited knowledge that I have of CRWMs  work and where it is going.  I am encouraged by the re-positioning that you are engaged in.  I would love to work with CRWM in several of the areas discussed--helping the CRC churches understand where things are moving to;  helping define and implement "coming alongside" strategies--especially in Africa;  working to evaluate how to withdraw from commitments and relationships that used the "mission driven" model;  

I am aware of the Timothy Leadership Training materials.  Very good stuff, but limited when working with 40 church planters who speak Neur or Anuak and don't have the capacity to study English material.  I think we can create mini-courses--re-taught, filmed, and placed on Netbooks for Neur pastors to watch and discuss in their villages in the bush.  It can be duplicated repeatedly and would help reach all of the remaining unreached peoples groups in Ethiopia etc.

Thanks for your engagement.  I have always known that you were a man who seeks to be in the center of the Lord's will. Blessing.

Participant

I read Joel Huyser's blog post "Are our/we living in a Bubble?" and believe he is posing in a different way some of the points being made here. Are  we 'witnessing to or for'  vs 'with.' Are his cogent points. I'd like folks here to read Joel's blogpost and consider his points in our discussion here.

Wow, am I glad I am basically out of this conversation that supposedly was started by me (see 1st post -top - a year and a half ago) but went quite in another direction.  I'm very interested in that (development/business) also, but can't contribute for a couple reasons right now..  

   One is because I am following closely - maybe hoping to lead - the pivotal things that are happening in CRWRC with the survey sent out to 10,000 people over the last weeks, purportedly about a "possible name change."  I'm writing and talking with people about what the means for "word and deed" in the ministries of the CRCNA.  Please pray with me for wisdom.      -Lou      

PS And keep up the good conversation; Greg, much appreciated your anticipated participation....sometime we have to get Karl Westerhof in on this as well.

PPS  If anyone reading this blog/forum has insights into matters related to what I started with at the top (that Conversation about a Concept of a Global Missions agency) PLEASE contact me directly at    [email protected]   ( I hope that is OK to do; otherwise tell them you got my address from the Yearbook: Lou Wagenveld)

Participant

Brother Daniel, Your reference to a business-person's approach reminds me that there are the equivalent of Chambers of Commerce in most urban environs. Searching by-country websites the formal organizations can be identified online.

i.e. In South Africa in the mid 90's a small group from Holland MI met with the Chambers of Commerce in Johannesburg, Capetown,  Port Elizabeth and Durban. In each city our receoption was very well received and spurred much interest in SA.

Fortunately or unfortunately this was not a concept well understood at the time. The meetings were arranged by URCSA ministers at first, who were wrestling with the dynamic changes in their congrants lives.

Wow!  A lot of communication has gone on since I last spent any real time reading thru all your posts and responses! 

I don't claim to have the answers to most of these posts.  Dan, I agree with much of what you say, but I must admit some of it does elude me some...  I will not comment on broad concepts, but rather, make it more personal so that one can understand how I see myself fitting in the broader scheme of mission evangelism. 

Let me set the record straight on who I am and what I've been involved in.  I was born in Nigeria to missionary parents.  While I do not have a great deal of formal training, I found myself back in Nigeria as the Mobile Engineer in 1991 and was there until 2007.  The reasons for my deciding to leave at that time were numerous, but one significant one was that I felt that in order to have a greater impact, I needed to return to the US, get caught up on the field of my expertise, and, God willing, return to Nigeria to run a for-profit automotive repair shop in the capital city of Abuja.  I have now been in the US working as an employee of a small local garage - after having been in a very large Toyota dealership briefly before that. 

I firmly believe that a Christian business is where I personally will have the greatest impact - both economically and spiritually.  I also feel that I need to connect with fellow Nigerian Christian businessmen who have been and are successful financially, and instill in them the vision for my business concept.  I want the investment in capital to come from people within Nigeria who are excited about what I can bring to the table and see this as a profitable venture, taking ownership of it; while also seeing this as a way to expand Christian values and witness.  My business concept includes as a service to the community (but one that is covered financially) bringing in experts in the field for the purpose of training (from NA), while also giving these experts an awareness of how business can be very different than it is here, still being profitable and, even more importantly, opening their eyes to great opportunities that exist. 

Partnering with Nigerians is of the greatest import to being successful, both in business and ministry!  I hesitate to separate the two, as my work IS my mission!  It's not something that can be separated.  But the key here is not to get the bulk of our capital from outside the country, but it's to get it from people who LIVE there and who understand the complexities of doing business in a corrupt environment.  It's also imperative that one align oneself with those of sufficient influence so as to boycott some of the lower level corruption. 

All this said, I was at one point, an investor and part-owner in a locally owned and operated (Nigerian) ISP.  We ran a profitable little two cafes within the same city, even setting up a franchise location until a few of the investors become greedy and solicited large investments.  We very quickly outpaced our ability to effectively manage our assets.  We lost large sums of cash to fraudulent employees and poor business practices.  For this reason, it's imperative that the business be very well managed and be operated not as a non-profit or as a charity, but as a profitabe venture.

Somehow, in my opinion, we've got to excite local affluent investors to invest in businesses run by Christians in their own country.  If they can see how partnering with someone with expertise in a field that they lack it, the venture can be amicably symbiotic. 

I must restate that I don't claim to have all the answers, and that this is a work in progress, but I feel called to put my gifts in a place where it's needed most and that I understand better than most. 

A dim candle in a dark room lightens the entire room.  A dim candle in a well lit room has little value... 

Pages