The Benefits of Being Part of an International Movement

Churches and missional communities that lack affiliation with an international network suffer as a result.  Some belong to networks, true, but often they are only national in scope.  This lack of association with leaders from other countries creates cultural, strategic, theological and organizational myopia. Lack of multi-cultural and multi-national association creates a silo affect:  members can see the strength of what they belong to “vertically” but don’t see the “horizontal” perspective, i.e., there are many other affective parts to God’s global work.  The result is they are in-grown.

Every church and missional community needs a tribe to belong to, and if they are wise, they choose a tribe with experience and exposure in the nations.  After all, the greatest growth of the church today is not the West but among the “rest.”

Many younger evangelical leaders frown on association with traditional denominations and older missionary organizations – they fear control and irrelevance.

However, it’s a different world today.  National entities in international movements are legally independent.  This allows them to raise funding, set strategies, and create fresh approaches to mission more effectively, while still benefitting from their wider tribal connection.

National affiliates in international movements don’t report directly to a centralized headquarters, but do have the advantage of being cross connected to members who work in the same areas of ministry located in different countries.  This helps local leaders spot new strategies from other nations and thus be able to seize opportunities that benefit them locally – without giving up local ownership and leadership.

The Place For Partnerships

Partnerships can be tricky, but they can also allow movements, organizations and churches to coalesce around solutions to problems that are beyond their ability to handle individually.  There are many levels of partnership: we partner with governments when we receive permission to pass through their borders; we partner with foundations, churches and individuals when we receive their funds and personnel; we partner with other entities when we share information.   When we are to partner at deeper levels over a long term, we need to give thorough consideration to how well our vision and values align. The deeper the degree of partnership, the greater the need for alignment of our core beliefs and practices.   Global and regional networks play an important role in our modern world, but before you jump in to one, you and your senior leaders should think through your level of participation and your motives for doing so. A lot of time and leader resource is wasted when spent in partnerships where there are no clear outcomes in mind.   The internet affords us the opportunity to form some partnerships without diversion from our vision and mission. We can contribute contacts, share ideas, and even coordinate activities without compromising our calling. This type of partnership can lead to faster problem solving and greater coordination of effort.   Some people believe unity in itself is a good enough goal for partnership, but I disagree. Unity can easily become an end in itself. I have witnessed people going from one unity gathering to another without a clear sense of their part in the mission of God.   In All Nations we measure ourselves by our three core values: worship, mission, and community. Take any one of these three out of the equation and you have a skewed endeavor. Worship and community without mission results in an inwardly focused, self-preoccupied group of people. Mission without worship and community leads to burnout. Worship without mission and community leads to spiritual fantasy and no accountability (which only comes through authentic community).   The same approach of a balanced set of core values applies to partnerships. Knowing your core values allows you to partner at whatever level you are comfortable with, while making no compromise to your unique DNA.   This is the challenge: As partnerships and coalitions proliferate in the world, it is crucial for you to think strategically about which partnerships your church/business/movement will participate in, including, working through the how's and why's. Make sure everyone in leadership knows the principles you follow in choosing to say yes or no.