God's Mission Matters August 2010 podcast - Hit the brakes!
Hit the brakes! Moving away from a problem solving approach to mission
August 15, 2010
By Dennis Smith
"Bear one another’s burdens." (Galatians 6:2)
Americans fix things. It’s in our DNA! We’ve long thought of ourselves as a nation of problem-solvers; America’s economic progress has often been linked to our capacity for innovation.
As participants in world mission, our Mr. Fix-It problem-solving mentality has been a mixed blessing. We are learning that what is broken in the rest of the world might not be susceptible to our proposed solutions.
Indeed, many of our mission partners would respectfully ask why, if we are so good at fixing things, so many parts of U.S. society (and even the PC(USA)!) remain broken? They will help us remember times in our relationship when our desire to “fix” things sometimes has caused more problems than it has solved.
As we journey together in faithfulness to Jesus, God’s Spirit will guide us in the best ways to channel our creative capacity and resources in ways that honor local cultural and historical contexts. This takes time, patience and lots of listening.
With more than 170 years of experience under our belt, PC(USA) World Mission has learned that our mission partners must take the lead in addressing local issues. God calls us to accompany our mission partners and to practice mutual accountability. We have wonderful gifts to bring to the table of partnership: our energy, our skills, our resources. But we learn, in this process, also to name the gifts our partners bring to the table and to understand that their gifts are no less valuable than ours.
Our partners call us to faithfulness and help us to experience God’s world, both at home and abroad, through new eyes.