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- Phone: 01302 811319
- Mailing Address: 24 Elmfield Road, Hyde Park, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN1 2BA
Contact Us in the US
- Phone: 202.468.4571
- Mailing Address: PO Box 5188 Wheaton, IL 60189-5188
I am writing this from an internet cafe in Kosovo. We are on a short-term mission trip this week where we are trying to assist a local church here in their work amongst families in the community. It is a good time and as I have been here I have been reminded of the importance of flexibility, and of respect for the local leadership. There are plans that we have made which changed on the run in to the week, and are even changing during the week itself. On one level this could be frustrating, but on another level, it is important and necessary in order to fit in with the local believers and serve the ongoing vision of the church here.
As an organisation that believes that the local church is to be at the heart of mission, Radstock always wants to emphasise the importance of working not to serve the agenda of those who are passing through, but working alongside, and even taking a lead from, those who live in the area 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Think for a moment how you would feel if someone arrived on your church’s doorstep telling you how they thought your work should be done and what you needed, and then offered to do it for a week before disappearing until maybe another 12 months had passed. I think we would be underwhelmed by such an offer!
We need to respect the local believers and allow them to shape our activities as we spend time with them. We had a specific example of this when there was an event we had run last year which we were very keen to run again this year. As we put this idea on the table some weeks ago, we received a cool response and as we pursued it they kept suggesting something different. When we talked face to face, it became clear why they had reservations about the event, as it had some potentially unhelpful ramifications for their ongoing work. It's so important to respect the local leadership.
Of course sometimes those outside of a situation will have insights and wisdom to offer – all of us in church leadership have benefited from that at one time or another – but it is not good when we become presumptuous in telling another church what is best for it. Respect the local leadership.
I have talked with church leaders in other countries who have spoken of the frustration of overseas pastors coming in and presuming what is needed, without really consulting them for their opinions. On one occasion I remember sitting with a pastor who, along with other pastors in his country, had been offered a large amount of money from a western nation to buy some land and build a conference centre that could be used by the churches for retreats and training etc. Very generous we might think. Well, maybe. The problem was that the pastors did not actually want a fancy new conference centre. And when they knew how much the people were spending to make this happen, they became even more frustrated, as that money could have funded numerous initiatives that the local pastors really did want to see happen.
Respect the local leadership.
(originally posted at Anthony's 'going global' blog: anthonyadams.wordpress.com)