Diaspora Mission: Keeping Churches in the Conversation

To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.

Following on from Sadiri Joy Tira’s ”Regions Beyond”

Imagine diaspora mission leaders around the table for a global conversation. There you find the agencies, the parachurch missions who are leading international diaspora initiatives with resources and assigned staff leaders.  Next to them are the academies, actively moving the new, emerging missiological discipline of “diaspora missiology” forward with educators’ consultations, training seminars, and publications. Across the table you see those from the agora, the market-place laity who systematically encounter those “outside the borders” in their global travels and responsibilities. Nearby are the activists – social workers, politicians, the NGOs, and other diaspora advocates and allies who are caring for the scattered and arguing for their basic human rights. Beside them at the table are the missions associations, the regional and international networks and movements that are featuring the diaspora agenda in their leadership meetings, webinars, and publications.

Thankfully, the assemblies (the churches) are also there. 

This commentary calls for responses from our colleagues in the local churches, associations of churches, and denominations, and urges them to recruit church leaders to the global conversation on diaspora mission. It asks them to share their diaspora journey and experience for the benefit of the Lausanne world evangelization movement. Their input to the following questions will not only become topics for future consultations, doctoral dissertations, and training resources but will bind and bond the Great Commission community closer together in collaboration for global mission.

Who are some of the principal leaders in denominational diaspora ministries? What are their strategies for the global diaspora and how do they carry out their church’s mission among them? Where are involved in diaspora mission?  When have they engaged (their history) or will they launch (their future projections) this vision?  Why do (or don’t) churches and denominations embrace diaspora missiology/mission?   

The “Seoul Declaration on Diaspora Missiology” affirms, “That the church, which is the body of Christ, is the principal means through which God is at work in different ways around the globe” and “The Cape Town Commitment” encourages, “…Church and mission leaders to recognize and respond to the missional opportunities presented by global migration and diaspora communities, in strategic planning, and in focused training and resourcing of those called to work among them” [italics mine].  

It is noteworthy that the processes and personnel involved in those documents included representatives from the assemblies – local churches, church movements, and denominations. Also, the processes toward the Cape Town congress and its far-reaching commitment were in collaboration with the World Evangelical Alliance, whose regional and national movements are effectively embracing the churches and denominations.

For years already, local churches and denominations have reached out to scattered immigrants, refugees, and ethnic newcomers to their lands. Many denominations have model church planting and benevolence initiatives among them. Some even have specialized ministries, divisions, or departments. They are finding fellow-travelers through national and regional networks and interdenominational associations such as the “Ethnic America Network” (www.ethnicamerica.com). Last year, diaspora mission was one of the affinity groups at Orlando 2011 (www.missionamerica.org).  The time is ripe for additional local, national, and regional consultations among the churches and denominations in order to learn from their diaspora initiatives.

Dr. Grant McClung, President of Missions Resource Group (www.MissionsResourceGroup.org), is a member of the Global Diaspora Network Advisory Board. He is the Missiological Advisor to the World Missions Commission of the Pentecostal World Fellowship and International Missionary Educator with Church of God World Missions (Cleveland, Tennessee U.S.A.).