Posted by: Titus Presler | November 11, 2015

Core values of mission networks: Reflections from Hunter Farrell

Mainline Christian denominations in North America share a number of developments in their world mission efforts:

  • Support has declined for centralized mission work, but mission efforts have proliferated from the grassroots of congregations and mid-level judicatories such as presbyteries, conferences, synods and dioceses.
  • Centralized staff are fewer, but networks of people concerned with particular kinds of work (for instance, education, medicine, micro-enterprise, ecology) or specific parts of the world (for instance, Haiti, Sudan, Jerusalem, Dominican Republic) have proliferated at the grassroots.
  • Longterm missionaries are far fewer today than in the past, but thousands of short-term mission teams go out from USAmerican churches every year, especially in the summer.

These developments are part of the democratization of world mission that I explored in Going Global with God: Reconciling Mission in a World of Difference, a democratization that includes the localization and deprofessionalization of mission activity.

Hunter Farrell, World Mission Director for the Presbyterian Church (USA), has just published online an excellent column, “Effective mission networks share seven core values” – here’s the link.  He has in mind the 40 freestanding mission networks through which Presbyterians are channeling their concern for certain kinds of work or parts of the world.  Yet his observations apply equally to such networks in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), United Methodist Church (UMC), and Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA).

Especially notable are Farrell’s caution against bureaucratizing a network into a committee, the importance of privileging global partners in the conversation, and the role of bridge figures who have long and deep mission experience in whatever context is in view.


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