Mission in the 2/3’s world and indigenous leadership
There has been an appropriate desire in the West to raise up indigenous leadership within the church in the host nations/peoples. This has worked in varying degrees of success. While growing pains are NOT a reason to nor work towards this end, we also must be very careful.
In some peoples’ the cultural mores are very unbiblical, where people are a commodity for profit and personal gain… it is just how business is done, how life is transacted. Getting a job in a mission/NGO/NPO is a huge source of prestige, not to mention great pay check in their culture. Many of these cultures have hierarchical status levels, where certain people are higher and better than others, where they use this to dictate to others, access privilege (we suffer that too!), and lord over those under them. These cultures do not possess the American entrepreneurial pull your self up paradigm – totally alien (!) and these ceilings lead to HUGE abuses, corruption and self promotion, at the expense of the mission/NGO others, those supposed to be served, etc.
This is directly extended to local churches and denominations as well. These character flaws are then used in receiving funds from western nations and then not used to the best effective means. This is of course not the universal reality, but a huge reality larger than many of us would want to believe.
As I said, there is definitely the desire, appropriately so, need and leadership to indeed empower and raise up nationals in their own contexts. The reality though is that our oversight, our need to come in and transform lives, develop Godly leaders with character, is still very much needed. The role of the missionary today is not to go “share the Gospel” in most places where the church has a foot hold. Rather it is in developing the leadership, beginning with these Christ like virtues and character traits needed by God’s leaders. From there, we can develop their skills and help them lead their people.
In the 21st century there continues to be a HUGE role for the western church to bring not just resources to bear, but Godly empowering leadership that transforms.