Monday, February 23, 2009
Does the initiative create dependence or empower the target population?
“What indicators might identify particular mission engagements as being strategic? What questions could you ask about mission initiatives to help decide if they are strategic?”
Indicator #4: Does the initiative create dependence or empower the target population? What local Body is empowered?
Across years I have watched congregations adopt communities to which they return year after year in mission engagement. Although they mean well, sometimes those congregations create situations of dependence. I know a community not too far across the Rio Grade Border in Mexico that has grown dependent upon a particular church’s benevolence as, each year, the church comes to the village with clothing and building materials. The well meaning church built a nice “church building” whose design was perfect for the suburbs of North America. Every year, they do maintenance on the building. They also build “homes” for families of the church.
It feels good to do for the poor what they might never be able to do for themselves. But we must be careful not to allow our feelings to be the rationale for our ministry activity. In some instances, our actions become an inhibitor to local initiative rather than a facilitator of the same. A major concern in our mission engagements should be what happens after we leave. Have our engagements helped a local body of believers to more effectively minister in their own context?