What would it look like if the whole church was sharing the whole gospel with the whole world? Christ-followers from every walk of life would be living out the gospel through our words and actions with those at our doorstep all the way to the ends of the earth. The Great Commission of discipling every ethne (people group) would be a driving force for teachers, businesspeople, humanitarian workers, students, and so on to use their spheres of influence for sharing the Gospel – both in our own cultures and cross-culturally.
God is moving in awesome ways but as the world has changed and new generations emerge, our Christian community has struggled to keep up with changes both inside the church and in the world. At a time of unprecedented opportunities, more and more people are finding it harder to express their calling through the modern “mission establishment.” It is crucial that we find roles for these people in the missions movement or we risk disenfranchising and/or disillusioning many people from being a full part of our mission effort.
While there are many, many changes, there are several key trends that we must more effectively address.
- More and more Christians want to be involved in fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission, and their ways of expressing this calling are increasingly varied. It is crucial that we extend training for those who will be expressing their calling through business, humanitarian, teaching, medical and other roles, whether they are self-supporting, partially supported or fully supported by mission funds.
- Many local churches are feeling compelled to fulfill their responsibility to be at the frontline of world missions. These churches want to send out incarnational witnesses to the ends of the earth, but also have a growing interest in how every member can be a part of the church’s mission expression locally and globally.
- More and more communities in the world are hostile toward and/or suspicious of the presence of missionaries. There is a growing desire and need for authentic expressions of Christ-followers in regions and countries where traditional mission activity is not possible.
- The world is an increasingly interconnected place, with more and more international visitors and immigrants in our country, so we are relating to an increasingly varied ethnic community. This makes it more and more important that we learn how to live out the gospel cross-culturally as we do our part in fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to disciple all peoples (ethne).
- For the first time in history, there are strong Christian communities on every continent. And while Christianity has been a mainly Western religion in recent centuries, today 60% of Christians live outside the West. Creating true cross-cultural mission partnerships is a difficult but crucial need.
When somebody expresses a calling / desire / interest in moving into a cross-cultural lifestyle, how can they be equipped? Traditionally, this person has been advised to attend seminary. Yet often seminary is seen as too long a commitment and is frequently not being focused on cross-cultural realities. A growing trend is to see people “just go” and dive into a cross-cultural and often cross-national living situation. Yet, for most people, this is a foolish underestimation of how difficult it is to incarnate the gospel in a culture different from our own.
Global Learning Laboratory is one attempt to address these critical issues. We are part of an emerging movement sewing new wineskins to equip cross-cultural Kingdom citizens.
Global Learning Laboratory Principles:
- We will seek to truly prioritize prayer as we ask the Lord of the Harvest to equip us and thrust us and others into the Harvest.
- The power and guidance of the Holy Spirit is our only hope for effectiveness.
- God’s Word will be our standard for faith and practice.
In a supplementary way, we will also learn from historical and missiological insights into the dynamics of cross-cultural missions.
- The training will be done in community, as community; therefore, learning communities will do life together, pray together, and learn together in the context of our churches.
- We will together focus on spiritual disciplines and character issues as God shapes our lives.
- We will partner together as GCPN co-laboring churches to help train our people and strategically impact a lost world both locally and globally.
- We will collaborate strategically with Great Commission Christians around the world.
- We will focus on flexible, limited group times to allow those working in full or part-time jobs to participate as full members of the group. Much of the learning will be self-guided.
- We will seek a mutually reinforcing cycle of learning and doing. We will focus on world-class learning about cross-cultural Kingdom issues and dynamics. We will seek to be involved in cross- cultural living situations at the same time. Our learning will be enhanced by putting into practice what we learn and our doing will be enhanced by the insights we are learning.
- The equipping will be in two segments. An initial segment as a member of the sending church will allow for deep community and integration of head and heart. A second segment (which could vary in length from months to years) will be an internship in the culture to which this person feels called, working under the guidance of leaders with a similar DNA.
- Since authenticity is a key need, we will commit ourselves to helping those being equipped find viable for-profit and non-profit opportunities as they move into the second stage of equipping and implementation.
- We offer no human guarantees – this is primarily an exercise of faith and God is our only guarantee.
- Our overarching goal is obedience to Christ and the establishment of Jesus’ ecclesia wherever we go. Our goal is indigenous, contextualized communities that are led by insiders. These faith communities, naturally reproductive not only in their own culture but as a part of the global Christian community, are essential in cross-cultural gospel pioneering.