Best Practices for An Asian Impact
By Alexi E. George
At this time in history, the Asian Vineyards present a great opportunity and challenge for the western churches. From the perspective of Asian leaders, their experiences with mission teams from the west were beneficial in various ways. How can western teams assist the work Asian pastors are accomplishing in their cities?
A diverse group of men and women representing 12 nations gathered, and we sat together to worship, pray, and share in November of 2013. It was a time for partners and Asian Vineyard leaders to interact. This group occupies the front line of mission efforts all over Asia. Each one engages the challenges of his or her community in unique ways. Partners from western countries have a great opportunity to contribute to this historic task of building church planting movements throughout Asia.
The Challenge of Asia
Some Asian countries are opposed to the gospel. Just the mention of Jesus or church can cause serious repercussions. In these nations, our friends are literally risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones for the sake of the Gospel. Other nations are quite “religious” and the presentation of the Gospel can be reduced to a mere discourse on spirituality. With many gods, the people are used to philosophical discussions on matters of religion and social issues.
Some countries have experienced oppression from foreign nations. The oppression may have lasted several generations and would have caused a long term generational issues that continue to impact their perspectives. These social and political struggles have caused deep wounds that continue to impact how they accept new ideas. Such tendencies have a direct impact on how the Gospel is accepted.
Asia contains countries that have several languages, cultures, and ethnic groups. All of these people groups have called that land their homeland for generations. This provides for a nation that is diverse and often filled with unresolved tensions.
Political instability causes much fear and unrest in some countries. Even daily tasks like travel and communication would be difficult and sometimes impossible. A simple trip to the store to purchase groceries may not be as simple as we think.
The Opportunity for the West
At this time in history, the Asian Vineyards situation presents a great opportunity and challenge for the western churches. From the perspective of Asian leaders, their experiences with mission teams from the west were beneficial in various ways, and they disclosed two main ways western teams have helped their efforts: encouragement and resourcing.
The most common response was that visiting teams were a source of encouragement for pastors and the congregations. With the struggle of ministering in difficult and sometimes hostile environments, encouragement is an important commodity.
Although these leaders are involved in encouraging, teaching, and training the leaders in their region, they themselves are often in need for encouragement. Western teams are an encouragement to al levels of leaders in each country.
When teams do some research on the area and do a survey of the work in the country they visit, the results are vastly superior. It’s better to take the extra effort to communicate with the leaders to find out their needs. Some are personal needs that pastors have while they minister to their congregations. The visiting teams can also minister to the needs of the congregations in areas where the local pastors may be less equipped.
Because of the cordial, submissive nature of many Asian nations, it can be a challenge to find out what their needs are. It may be good to speak with several pastors and leaders of the country you plan to visit. This will give you a broader perspective from which to prepare for your visit.
Examples of Resourcing
Community-Centered Resourcing will help the local church have a greater impact on the area where they minister. Even without knowing the language, you can serve in a meaningful way. This also allows for the local church to think of other ways that they can engage their church members to do such outreaches. Here are some of the examples: Medical camps, clinics, English camps, concerts, and other non-religious ways to help the people.
Leadership-Centered Resourcing is a great way to train upcoming leaders in Asia. In the coming decades, Asia is poised to become a continent with global impact. Asia is already leading the world in some areas. Therefore it is vital for us to provide quality leadership training to Vineyard leaders and pastors in Asia. Here are some examples: leadership classes, discipleship school, communication skills classes.
Ministry-Centered Resourcing helps the local churches in a more direct way. Asian pastors and leaders are doing a fine work of ministering to their people, but the western church does have a contribution to make. Here are some examples: teaching on the ministry of the pastor, church planting workshops, workshop on worship and songwriting, teaching on Vineyard Values and discussions on how to apply values in the local context, workshops on prayer, and healing prayer.
As we seek to bless the Asian Vineyards, it is important to see ourselves as co-laborers. The Asian leaders are doing a good task in reaching, teaching, and developing their people. We are to approach the leaders and their people with the focus of coming alongside of them to assist and enable them to do their tasks more effectively.
Western churches have an opportunity to positively impact the one continent that is set to become the most influential of all in the coming decades. This is a privilege and opportunity to impact future Vineyards all over Asia.
Alexi and his wife Annie pastor Adoor Vineyard Church (India) and teach at Faith Theological Seminary. He is a pastor, teacher and writer, regularly engaged in the process of training and coaching church planters and pastors.
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