On 20 May, Affinity held its annual churches and mission day at Highbury Baptist Church in London.
One of the aims of Affinity is to provide opportunities for churches to come together for encouragement and co-operation. Various churches attended the conference, along with ten mission agencies and two theological colleges.
The main discussion was around an issue faced by many mission organisations and churches — is sending cross-cultural missionaries preferable to supporting indigenous workers?
The cost of sending a British family overseas can be large, and John McDonald of Grace Baptist Mission urged churches to recognise that supporting a local believer may be a better way of using limited resources.
There was further discussion about whether Paul’s dependence on support was relevant today. Churches were challenged through the example of Paul, who had never met the Colossians but was constantly praying for them. This was in response to churches’ concerns about language barriers and supporting someone they have never met.
Many questions were asked about whether our mission strategies help or hinder. Do we use local believers are in our own strategies, or are we serving them in theirs?
Supporting indigenous workers may lead to a loss of control on our part, but Brian Kirik, UK director of Gospel for Asia, spoke about one illiterate woman who saw her whole village converted. This exemplified the need for local believers to take initiatives.
The consensus was that supporting local believers in gospel ministry is important. Andy Lines, Director of Crosslinks, said that indigenous workers ‘will preach in places I will never go, with an understanding of the culture I will never fully possess, in languages I will never learn’.
For UK churches to be actively involved in this aspect of mission, UK pastors can be part of training programmes for nationals. The day ended with a time of reporting and corporate prayer. There was a strong sense of being partners together in the Great Commission.