International (MNN) — A new year seems to always bring change — something the mission field is not exempt from. In 2016, change comes in the form of partnership.
For years, missiologists have been encouraging people to serve alongside others, rather than doing too much for them.
Now, in 2016, their advice is being heeded, but maybe not by who you would think.
Mark Luckey with Every Child Ministries explains, “In the work of missions today, it’s the national church and the organizations in these countries saying to mission organizations in the West, ‘We don’t want you to do it FOR us: we want you to train us.”
The partnership perspective
The shift toward doing missions together carries a few implications.
“First of all, we can send less missionaries. The work of missionaries is still very important; we still need to send missionaries. But the need for as many, as in the past, has changed. Now the focus for missionaries would be more in areas still [needing] training,” explains Luckey.
Partnership creates a more effective dynamic. By walking alongside national organizations, the need for volunteers to learn a new culture or a new language is eliminated. Instead, volunteers can help train and equip nationals.
“People who have specific skills and are able to train others…can go for shorter periods of time to provide that training–maybe follow up trips, [but] not necessarily living there all the time,” says Luckey.
Part of this goal is not just to train others, but to train them so they can train others, too, thus creating a replicating effect.
However, though their capabilities have grown, national churches often still need financial support from churches in the West. This poses a different challenge: accountability.
“We have to find ways to make sure people are accountable for how they use the funds that we do send,” explains Luckey. How this will happen is currently undetermined.
But despite this trend showing up in 2016, ECM seems to have been ahead of the curve.
“ECM has long been about training. But because now those who we are serving are asking us to partner with them, it makes it a lot easier,” affirms Luckey.
ECM provides the following training on top of its other programs:
Agriculture: ECM uses “Farming God’s Way” as a tool to help incorporate Biblical principles with sound agricultural principles. It’s a way to share the Gospel and provide important practical training.
Vocational Training: Some children are unable to continue pursuing school after completing secondary schooling. Because of this, ECM offers vocational training to these kids so they can one day provide for themselves and their families.
Teachers: ECM helps train teachers to become more effective in the classroom. Part of this training includes helping the teachers discover ways to share their faith with their students.
Sunday School Teachers: ECM trains Sunday school teachers and other church leaders to effectively share the Gospel and to be able to train others to do the same.
Pastoral Training: ECM partners with other organizations to train pastors and lay leaders for serving their communities.
You can be a part of this training, too! Here’s how:
Partner with ECM
If these action points are beyond your scope, please pray for ECM instead. Pray for God’s direction as ECM continues to strive to serve others. Also pray for effective partnerships.