Have our (Strategic) Cake and Eat It Too?

They say we have to choose.  We can’t have the performance of a Camaro and the fuel-efficiency of a Corolla.  We can’t have the comfort of the status quo and the improvements of forward progress. We can’t have the companionship of a house cat and a couch free of fur.  They say we can’t have our cake and eat it too.

When it comes to mission strategy in Angola, we beg to differ.  Our team finds ourselves at the crossroads in several areas, and traditional approaches tell us we have to choose.  Maybe they’re right.  But for the time being, we are embracing the strategic AND instead of the OR.  Here’s a glimpse into what an AND future might hold.

Nationwide Ministry or AND Local Ministry

Mango (pictured in orange) leads a bible study on the book of Mark

In our first 10 months in Angola, we’ve already felt this tension.  Our extensive travels have opened significant doors in far-flung corners of Angola, but have also lessened our ministry time at home.  Recently, we discussed the situation in depth, asking ourselves if we need to address the imbalance.  The answer?  We still believe we should strive for local AND national ministry, made possible by a mentoring approach.  Significant time spent with leaders at the beginning will build the trust necessary for a continued mentoring relationship in the future, even if we only see each other occasionally.  Here’s an example:

In February we spent a week in Luena with Pastor Kazenga and the church there.  Our mutual trust grew and our teaching was well received.  Future trips to Luena to continue mentoring these leaders are scheduled for June and August.  Meanwhile, in Huambo, we have been investing relationship time with Mango and a small study group.  Mango is stepping into leadership.  Since these works are dependent not on us but on their Angolan leaders, we are free to travel back and forth, each time building on the last.

Doctrinally Sound or AND Diverse

Conservative approaches value doctrinal soundness, but end up with cookie-cutter churches. Liberal approaches value diversity, but lose their Scriptural grounding. But a study of New Testament congregations shows a rich diversity that flourishes within the soil of faithfulness to apostolic teaching. We hope to cultivate the same in Angola through emphases on maturing and congregational autonomy.  In other words, each congregation is free to grow in obedience to Scripture at their own pace.

Robert teaching an ICA congregation

Robert recently spent time teaching in a new church in Lubango that came out of a Pentecostal background; a possible church plant in Kuito will incorporate members from a conservative Church of Christ background; and congregations in Luanda share an ICA doctrinal background. In all of these contexts, solid biblical teaching in a setting of congregational autonomy allows each church to mature while respecting the diversity among them.

Gospel-Centered or AND Holistic

Thankfully the days of arguing about the social gospel are basically over. We recognize that the gospel touches all of human life. But the tension remains in ministry: with limited energy and time, should we focus on service ministries (which are badly needed!) or on church planting and maturation?  If we invest in service ministries, how do we avoid exacerbating the problems of dependency? We believe the answer is, Service ministry should flow out of local congregations. Our team’s job is not to be the source of major community improvement, but rather to teach local Christians how to care for their communities as Christ does.

Jordan is in the early stages of developing an early response medical training ministry, since many people here suffer greatly because of inadequate first aid and ambulance services. But instead of this being a service of the Angola Mission Team, it will be an outreach service from local congregations, so that God will receive the glory.

 

These are just a few of the ministry tensions we are starting to face.  We embrace these tensions.  For in the tension we find ourselves stretched and growing, and we find room for God to shape our strategy and ministry as He chooses.  May He receive all the glory!

 


Interested to learn more?  Check out our Vision and Strategy pages.

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1 Response to Have our (Strategic) Cake and Eat It Too?

  1. John King says:

    Great article! Whole-heartedly agree with the “both…and” approach. Remember that faithful leaders always reproduce leaders!

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