DMG - a model for missions in new sending countries

We build bridges from church to church. Pictured here: the evangelical Kerk in Aalst (Belgium), pastored by our missionary Berthold Lamparter
DMG wants to help churches in Europe to send their members to other cultures

The German Missionary Fellowship (DMG) is one of the largest evangelical mission agencies in Germany with presently over 350 missionaries serving in over 70 countries.

Purpose:

DMG is an evangelical mission agency with the purpose of glorifying God by assisting German churches to send out missionaries into the cross-cultural harvest field.

Principle of operation: partnership

We want to be good stewards of God's entrusted (limited) resources. We know that we cannnot do this on our own in an efficient way. Therefore we need partners - and indeed, God has placed a number of excellent partners around us:

  1. mission agencies with a wealth of resources and experience as well as
  2. churches in our home country who want to be involved in world missions and have ownership in the ministry of their missionaries.

For this reason we aspire to bridge this gap between sending churches (in the home country) and opportunities for ministry (in the countries of service).

No DMG mission fields

It is not DMG's aim to establish "own" mission fields or projects (nor do we send out "lone-rangers" who do their own thing) but we do aim to strengthen already existing projects and enterprises. It would take a long time and a great deal of effort for DMG to start a new work. This would mean setting up a new team, building relationships to local churches and government officials, getting to know the culture and local way of doing business, establishing a project and maintaining project continuity, developing a strategy for church planting and culturally adjusted churches, and much more...

Secondment

For this reason all our missionaries are seconded to a partner organisation on the field. They are integrated into one of their ministry teams, enjoy the fellowship and support of their colleagues, serve under their leadership and receive supervision. This partner organisation is responsible for field orientation, language acquisition, member care, work assignments, leadership, accountability, periods of rest and refreshment etc. as laid out in the co-operation agreement (see an example in the appendix).

Our partners

At present we are partnering with over 100 partner organisations. The majority are international mission agencies such as AIM, BEM, Christar, ECM, France Mission, GBIM, GMSA, Avant Ministries, Hellenic Ministries, HCJB, Interserve, Latinlink, MBMS, MECO, MAF, Pioneers, SEND, SIM, TEAM, UFM, Worldteam and many more. Others are national mission agencies in the countries of service or national churches (which know how to utilise international workers and can care for their needs). All our partner organisations are evangelical in nature yet they vary considerably in their ethos, strategies and practises. They differ in their geographic areas of service, types of ministry (i.e. church planting, evangelism, para-church training programs, media, development work, "tentmakers"...), work strategies, degree of team life and accountability, denominational orientation (theology) etc. As individual persons differ in their personality structure, gifting, personal needs, work experience and vision we can offer a large variety of partner organisations and choose according to the individual's needs, vision, calling and God's history in his/her life as much as possible. A partner organisation is the optimal choice for some people (yet not for others) enabling DMG to offer a maximum number of opportunities for international placement.

Dual membership

Missionaries have dual membership: they are full members of DMG and a partner organisation (or associate members, in a few cases affiliate members). They enjoy the same privileges and responsibilities as other memebers of the partner agency on the field. In this way new missionaries can be sent out and cared for responsibly with minimal effort, utilising already existing infrastructures. It is a case of good stewardship and avoids the establishment of additional field structures. We do not view this dual membership as a handicap or confusing complexity as each person is a member of at least two extended families: the father's family and the mother's family - and no one gets confused by this fact.

International teams

Inevitably this leads to international teams on the field into which our worker is integrated (in fact, the same holds true for most international mission agencies with several countries of recruitment). As a result our workers are (usually) a small ethnic minority and who are expected to show grace, mutual love and the dedication to team building as well as celebrating cultural diversity. On the other hand the ethnic diversity in a ministry team brings forth the richness and strength of each nationality so that they can complement and serve each other in a special way. Thus, we really are convinced of the value of international teams.

Partner organisation's leadership on the field

We strongly favour partnership and a clear assignment of responsibilities. For this reason we support the partner organisation's leadership on the field which has the responsibility and authority for the team including personnel management and development of work strategy. DMG refrains from any interference into the decision making on the field. DMG missionaries may be asked by the partner organisation to serve in a leadership position, being accountable to the partner and not acting as a DMG delegate. In case of problems with one of our workers the DMG personnel director will communicate with the respective team or field leader in order to iron out possible misunderstandings or irritations, overcome a break-down of communication and restore trust. If a situation really gets out of hand we may ask for an extra vacation for our missionary, a temporary return to Germany for clarification, a re-assignment to a different team/location or ultimately withdraw an individual missionary as a last resort, yet we respect the partner mission's authority on the field and hold their decisions in high esteem.

Sound economics

This principle of partnership with partner organisations in the country of service is no duplication of structures as international mission agencies need a sending base in each home country for legal reasons anyway, which in our case is covered by DMG - just that the sending branch has a different name i.e. DMG. Yet from an international perspective administration expenses are greatly reduced as all the DMG partner organisations collectively use the same infrastructure in Germany collectively (DMG): connection to German churches and Bible schools, reputation in public, publications, committees, offices, facilities, know-how and experience, preparation of candidates, member care. There is no need to set up a separate infrastructure of their own (possibly for a small number of sent missionaries).

Partnership

DMG offers partnership to any evangelical mission agency (of like-minded purpose and involvement in cross-cultural ministry) which does not have an own representation in Germany. If, however, an agency has an own base in Germany we would refer an enquirer to this agency for reasons of simplicity (concise and comprehensive ethos, sense of belonging, administration, line of authority, PR, specialised orientation and training) - there is no need to have us as an additional agency involved.

Stimulation of partnerships in countries of service

Furthermore, if DMG has several partner organisations in a country of service we can make them aware of projects and developments in the other agencies and thus foster field co-operation and networking between evangelical agencies in the countries of service (as well on international level) and stimulate the establishment of strategic alliances and the utilisation of synergies.

Support requirements

We negotiate the financial support requirements with our partner organisations. In so doing, we listen to the partner organisation's field leader so that we do not set support levels which are unrealistically low and which may put workers into a difficult situation. Many partner organisations expect a contribution to their field administration costs which is fair request and needs to be negotiated. Thus, financial equality of all ministry team members is not the primary goal as cultural and individual differences should be recognised, yet elementary needs must be met.

Recommendation for agencies from weaker economies

There is also the option of missionaries taking on part-time jobs in the country of service in order to reduce their support needs (with the consent of the partner organisation's field leadership and presuming this does not violate the laws of the country of service) even to the point of self-supporting workers. On the one hand this extra burden can limit the missionary's time and energy for ministry, on the other hand it can stimulate natural relationships with the target population and establish trust and a clear role in the culture. They still can be integrated into a ministry team on the field (field partners). This option might be especially considered for missionaries from countries with weak currency/low-income in order to limit their financial sacrifices and still granting them the blessing of supporting their own missionaries. Some of our partner organisations even have a special program of subsidising the support needs of missionaries from weak currency countries or setting support levels in proportion to the GNP of the country of origin.

Postal address:

DMG, Buchenauerhof 2, 74889 Sinsheim, Germany,
Tel.: +49-7265-959-0, Fax: +49-7265-959-109

Director: Dr. Detlef Blöcher

Additional aspects of DMG

Fellowship

We view ourselves as a missionary fellowship which means that we want to serve each other, encourage each other, care for each other and grow together in love and harmony and pray for each other.

Requirements for service with DMG

We expect the following from missionary candidates:

  1. a clear conversion
  2. spiritual growth
  3. a stable and mature personality structure
  4. a growing sense of God's calling
  5. a recommendation by their home church
  6. Bible school or theological/missiological training (minimum 3 years for full time Christian ministry and 1 year for medical, development, educational or social work - or its equivalent by correspondence courses)
  7. a good working knowledge of English so that they can freely interact with their team colleagues, participate in conferences, write work reports/proposals etc..

Preparation of new missionaries

Candidates will live with us in our mission centre for 4 months (candidate course). During this time we worship together, work together (including preparation of meals and maintenance of our centre) and serve in ministry teams in various churches at weekends (mission day, seminars). In addition candidates receive formal training in cross-cultural ministry. They have written assignments and private study time. Thus, the candidate training course covers formal, informal and non-formal training. During this time we get to know candidates on a pretty good level: their personality structure, strengths and weaknesses, gifts and talents and work experience. We help them to grow in the Lord and further develop their personality (one of our staff is a professional counsellor) and we can give them advice on where they may fit best into mission work (including choice of partner mission and country of service) if they do not yet have a clear sense of calling.

Mission family

During this candidate internship we grow together as a mission family so that the home base is not just an "office" but a trusted family where you can be open and even admit failure. This sets the basis for our continued personal care during the mission service in complementation to the member care provided by the partner agency (the latter may be culturally conditioned so that personal, spiritual and emotional needs may not be fully met by the ministry team on the field).

DMG financial system

This strong emphasis on fellowship is also expressed in our financial system as we practise 2 Cor. 8:14: "That your plenty will supply what they need so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be quality, as it is written: 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.'" Each missionary will build his own team of supporters: the home church plus additional supporting churches and individual prayer partners. Usually this is done during the time of deputation following the candidate course. As a confirmation of God's calling we expect 60% of the total costs being covered by pledged support at the time of the first departure. On the other hand, the personal allowance is the amount agreed upon with the partner agency and not the total sum donated by the missionary's supporters. So an under-supported missionary does not get less than agreed and an over-supported missionary does not get more.

Personal calling

We put an emphasis on God's calling of a missionary which is a growing personal conviction of God's leading in his/her life (subjective calling) and its confirmation by their home church (objective calling).

Co-operation with home churches

We believe that the church is God's chosen instrument for mission service. For this reason we want to be the assistant and servant of local churches in Germany by

  1. raising mission awareness where it does not exist (preaching, teaching and motivation),
  2. nurturing mission interest where it is little developed (encouragement and information),
  3. assisting churches in the selection, preparation, sending (or adoption), support and care for their missionaries in partnership with the partner agency's field administration and DMG.

DMG characteristics

DMG is ...

  • evangelical in its theology (statements of faith of the German Evangelical Alliance (DEA) and World Evangelical Fellowship),
  • church-centred in emphasis at home and on the field,
  • inter-denominational as we come from various evangelical churches and fellowships,
  • international as we hold various passports and are of different origin but are sent out or are primarily supported by churches in Germany.

We put a strong emphasis on ...

  • prayer, especially intercession,
  • evangelism and
  • church planting and have a
  • special concern for the unreached.

We are committed to ...

  • long-term mission service,
  • fluency in ministry language
  • a good understanding of the culture and worldview

Appendix

Example of a co-operation agreement

Agreement between Partner Mission (PM) and DMG

The following commitments outline each partner's role in our joint effort to the furthering of His kingdom.

DMG commits itself to:

  1. represent PM in Germany and promote its opportunities for service.
  2. train prospective missionaries through its 4-month training course followed by a time of deputation to raise prayer and financial support.
  3. provide PM with a written resume of a person desiring to come under this agreement including a letter of acceptance by DMG and recommendations regarding their placement.
  4. provide employment and full social security to the missionary, including medical and retirement plans, personal allowance, work funds and support of special projects within the policies of DMG and PM, as the Lord provides.
  5. send missionaries in partnership with their home church by secondment to PM with the understanding that PM will provide leadership and pastoral care on the field and that DMG will not interfere in matters on the field.
  6. handle donations in agreement with German legislation and assist in donor-missionary-relationships.
  7. encourage the missionary and provide member care.
  8. review PM's annual evaluation of the missionary.
  9. provide leadership during times of home assignment (usually 25% of the time of service on the field, but at least 6 months for legal reasons) which includes rest as well as continued training.

PM commits itself to:

  1. inform prospective candidates about the opportunity for ministry through DMG.
  2. accept or reject a new missionary approved by DMG on the basis of the personal profile, ministry interest and recommendations by DMG etc..
  3. integrate a missionary into a team on the field, sharing equal rights and responsibilities like other workers in accordance to PM's policies.
  4. arrange for language and culture studies.
  5. provide field leadership, apportion work and accountability.
  6. care for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being.
  7. inform DMG in advance about major changes in work or geographic assignment and provide an annual assessment.
  8. submit projects, approved by PM, to the DMG Board. The approval by PM and DMG Board are required before a missionary can ask for donations.

Joint consultation:

  1. DMG and PM will inform each other of significant changes in their agency's doctrinal position and work strategies.
  2. DMG and PM will inform each other of significant changes in the missionary's doctrinal position, social or personal status.
  3. If disagreement should occur between a DMG missionary and his/her field leadership, all parties involved will make every effort to solve the conflict and restore relationships. When a conflict cannot be resolved by the parties directly involved, the matter will be referred to the organizational level of leadership, so that DMG and PM leadership will look into the matter and agree on its resolution.
  4. DMG and PM will consult each other if changes in this agreement seem necessary. This contract can be modified or cancelled by each party on three months' notice.
  5. Further details can be agreed in writing.