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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What is the Future of Presbyterian Mission?

What is the Future of Presbyterian Mission?
An Interview with Weingartner and Young

While searching the blogosphere, I found an interview about the future of mission on the Presbyterians for Renewal site. Rob Weingartner is the Director of The Outreach Foundation and Bill Young is the Director of Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship .

Here is the first question that was asked of the pair. To read the entire interview click here.


In June your organizations, The Outreach Foundation and Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF), announced that you have joined in a strategic alliance for the purpose of sending new missionaries in response to God's mission call. This alliance will focus on expanding the evangelistic capacity of global partners and proclaiming the gospel among the unreached peoples of the world. This new strategic alliance is quite a departure for your groups. We know the denominational funding is down, but what in particular sparked this big change?

Bill: Three factors have led us to seek this strategic alliance at this time. First, the decline in the number of Presbyterian missionaries, from 2,063 in 1959 down to 235 today. Second, changes that the GAC has made in the structure of the denomination-the elimination of divisions-has led us to think things won't get better. There will no longer be a committee of the GAC that looks specifically at international mission. I believe that means our international work, including sending missionaries, will get less and less priority. And finally, fewer congregations are willing to send funds for anything through the GAC funding system. Money is lost that could be supporting historic Presbyterian work around the world, excellent work that needs to continue to be supported. PFF and Outreach have a high level of trust among churches and could help channel those funds to Presbyterian work.

Rob: Let me elaborate on Bill's assessment. John Detterick [former Director of the General Assembly Council] said two years ago that we have a mission funding system that's broken, and Marian McClure [former Director of the Worldwide Ministries Division] said three years ago that it suffers from "a byzantine complexity and a lack of transparency." What we sense is that the Worldwide Ministries Division (WMD) has been a part of an organizational system that is dysfunctional. People increasingly feel a sense of distance from the national church at a time when congregations are taking more initiative to connect directly to God's mission in the world. I've said for years that I thought the WMD would be healthiest if it spun off as a separate mission board. But the decisions of the Council move in the other direction, to fold the unique dimensions of global mission into a domestically oriented, dysfunctional organization.

To read the entire interview click here.


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