Missiological Commitments (Core values)
Based on this vision/mission, several missiological commitments come to the fore toward which Serve Globally seeks to grow:
First of all, we want to grow in authenticity, or the “good” of the good news of God’s reign. Against the backdrop of colonialism and the part that Christian missions had historically played in it, we seek to grow in practices that reflect post-colonial mission—that is, practices that reflect respect, dignity and equality in our relationships with our host partners. We want to grow in our integrity to be and do what we are spreading through the Great Commission, to practice what we preach.
Second, we want to grow in our commitment to holistic mission. One of the Covenant Affirmations is its historic commitment to the whole mission of God, which includes evangelism and justice. The five priorities of the ECC operationalize this commitment. SG seeks to grow in the implementation of making and deepening disciples, starting and strengthening churches, loving mercy/doing justice, developing leaders and serving globally across cultures and around the world.
Incarnational or inculturated mission
Third, we want to grow in our commitment to immerse in the culture to which we feel called to serve. Over and against living in a missionary compound (physically and mentally!), inculturation means establishing real presence in a community—learning through relationships its lifeways, its values, its beliefs, its language and communication patterns, its history, etc.—in order to bear witness to the gospel authentically, lovingly, and effectively. Inspired by the theological truth of the incarnation, inculturation is the border-crossing process of getting to know people deeply and sensitively through total life immersion. It is knowing the community well enough to bear witness to the gospel in that culture’s language, written and unwritten. Relationships are key here.
Fourth, we want to grow in our commitment to intercultural mission. There are subtle but important differences between cross-cultural and intercultural, and ultimately we want to be intercultural in our approach to mission. “Cross-cultural” implies, at best, a neutral relationship wherein no one changes, at worst, a default colonial relationship that continues to view the missionary as the teacher/transformer and the host peoples as the recipient/transformed. Among other things, intercultural mission means equality. It also means that all parties are being transformed in the intercultural encounter.
Fifth, we want to grow in our commitment to glocal mission. In the age of globalization, the world is both “over there” and “right here.”–to define mission in geographical terms is making less sense. Intercultural missional competence is needed whether one thinks about crossing an ocean or crossing the street. Serve Globally can/should play a role in helping local congregations serve the nations in their own backyard. Implied here is the value of, and the commitment to, the local church in every nation as it engages in mission.
Sixth, we want to grow in our commitment to multi-directional mission. If SG is simply the application of the first four priorities, then by implication, we continue to assume that mission is uni-directional; that is, only the U.S. sends missionaries while the rest of the world receives them. By saying that Serve Globally is practicing all five priorities, including “Serve Globally,” we are affirming multi-directional mission, where mission is from everywhere to everywhere. SG may have a role to play in helping and supporting partner churches around the world in their efforts send their own to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. SG may also have a role to play in helping and supporting ECC churches to receive missionaries here in our midst and to learn from the global church.
Finally, we want to grow in our commitment to multi-ethnic mission. Within our own culture, there are many cultures. Whereas typically the dominant culture has been the one engaged in global mission, today the Spirit is calling the whole church in all of its diverse glory to be engaged. Practically, this means focused attention on facilitating African-, Asian-, Latino/a-, and Native-American congregations for global missional engagement.