Creating a Sustainable Future
By Steven ColeFebruary 23, 2012
In the early part of 2011, I was asked to start and lead a ministry team that would help the Brethren Church in the Philippines grow in their mission while becoming self-sustaining. We all have heard words like sustainability before and know that moving from being dependent to interdependent is a difficult task. Over the last 12 to 18 months, our denomination has had very difficult conversations with our global partners about the issue of sustainability.
For decades we, like most missions-oriented denominations in the U.S., have sent missionaries and planted churches in other countries with the understanding that the U.S. denominations would continue to fund the work as long as someone was willing to go. There is no denying the fact that there have been significant harvests reaped through this strategy.
We only need to look at the efforts of our brothers and sisters in India, Argentina, etc. and see the thousands of people impacted by their ministry.
There is an unintended consequence to this strategy though. In promising the funds to maintain ministries indefinitely, we have inadvertently created dependents out of our ministry partners and have set ourselves up as the sustainers of their ministry. If it were not for the bad economy here in the U.S., we may have continued in this strategy, but we are now faced with a new reality.
Financial realities today dictate that we can no longer continue in the strategies of the past. Godly leadership and stewardship calls us to find a new way forward and not simply hope and wait for the past realities to return. With self-sustainability and Godly stewardship as the focal points, I am partnering with Pastor Gary Castro in the Philippines to lead our teams to redefine the relationship between the Brethren Church in the U.S. and the Brethren Church in the Philippines. Our goal is to help the national church in the Philippines become selfsustaining in their context.
We also want to redefine the partnership between the two national churches. Our goal is to create ways to resource the national church in the Philippines around big vision strategies while encouraging the Filipino church to resource their own local budgets through local, sustainable income sources.
While we have made some significant progress over this last year, starting in January 2012, Pastor Gary and I will meet monthly over the internet to discuss vision, budgets, and strategies that will prepare the way for sustainability in the Filipino church.
These meetings will be the connection point for the two teams involved. I will be leading a Ministry Team of people here in the U.S. dedicated to seeing the Filipino church succeed, and Gary will lead his team of pastors and volunteers to prepare their vision and strategies. Together, we will have a sustainable plan in place by the end of 2012.
Currently the U.S. team is made up of me, Steven Cole, Tim Garner, Rick Miller, and Bill Ludwig. If you are interested in the process or being a part of the team, you can reach me by email. firstname.lastname@example.org