How DMG partners with sending churches and many other mission organisations
World mission is God’s passion, His mission. He is the prime actor - and He has chosen to involve us humans in His powerful work in the world. Participation in God’s mission constitutes the character (1 Peter 2:9; Acts 1:8) and the calling (Matthew 28:18ff) of His church, and the Lord Jesus has promised His presence and authority in this ministry (Matthew 28:18) as well as special blessing when we do this together (John 17:21).
Created for fellowship
God created human beings in His image, as "social beings" who long for fellowship. The first man, Adam, felt incomplete even in a perfect paradise. Despite being surrounded by many animals and enjoying close fellowship with God he still had a deep longing for a human partner. "The LORD God said: it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18).
Living in fellowship
God’s Old Testament people, Israel, were called to live out this fellowship, to serve and care for one other, to live as "we", not as "I" and "my family". If one person was blessed, the whole nation benefited, and if one sinned, all were affected. Yet even then, sin in the form of striving for personal power, influence and possessions as a result of the wish to build one's own dynasty crept in and became prevalent.
Jesus calling into fellowship
Jesus called His disciples first "to be with him" (Mark 3:14) and to have fellowship with one another (koinonia: people sharing together), before sending them out in small teams under His authority to serve others. Just as the apostles James and John were Peter’s companions (koinonos) in catching fish when Jesus called them to become fishers of men, so also were they to fulfil this great commission together, mutually supporting and complementing one other.
Fellowship in the church of Jesus
Fellowship is the hallmark of the church which is called to the "body of Christ" (1Corinthians 12:12ff; Ephesians 4:15ff). Each member is a part of the body and as such should make a unique contribution to the entire organism, simultaneously requiring the support of the others. All parts are needed so that the body can function properly. Thus the Spirit of God equips each member of the church with some spiritual gifts that are complemented by those of others (1 Corinthians 12). We are called to help, correct, build up and challenge one other to good works (John 13:14; Romans 15:5-14; Colossians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Peter 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5).
Western individualism is idolatry
Our Western culture has rejected this fundamental biblical principle, indulging in individualism which is a form of idolatry. Men strive for independence, power, influence and control, instead of enjoying life in fellowship and experiencing the blessing of dependence on others. God deliberately chose to place us in a shared habitat (garden/earth) in which my actions strongly affect others – in a positive and a negative sense. In Europe, however, we emphasise "my rights", "my needs", "I", "my". This idolatry of egoism is even creeping into our churches. Deliberate, determined efforts are necessary to counter this human aspiration for power.
Co-operation is not easy
Effective co-operation does not correspond to our fallen human nature but can only be achieved by God’s grace and at great personal cost. It requires patience, humility, mercy, willingness to forgive and to listen attentively to one another in order to "consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
Co-operation in world mission
Likewise, co-operation in world mission is not easy, as our personal convictions and preferences may clash - but partnership is God’s chosen way. The mutual sharing of gifts, resources and experience in missions is not only a pragmatic choice, but also a spiritual principle. DMG views itself as part of the global mission community and has chosen to co-operate with others.
DMG partnering with sending churches
We are convinced that the Great Commission applies to the whole church of Christ. It is not given primarily to mission agencies or individual specialists. Each follower of Christ is called to be actively engaged in God’s mission in his/her home area and to the ends of the earth. For this reason, DMG aims to assist sending churches realise their calling: by stimulating mission awareness where it is lacking, by giving missiological teaching and training where it is underdeveloped and by helping in the sending, support and care of the church’s missionaries.
Co-operation in the place of service
The fundamental principle of co-operation is also practiced in the missionary’s place of service as DMG always work hand-in-hand with local partners. DMG does not establish its own ministry teams, projects or “mission fields”, but seconds its missionaries to partner organisations already serving there. In many cases these are international mission agencies, but there are also some national initiatives and churches (able to utilise expatriates and care for their needs). At present, DMG is working in co-operation with over 100 partner organisations which provide leadership and strategic planning, orientation and cultural adjustment, personal care and fellowship so that our missionaries can serve with their gifts and benefit from the agency’s experience.
Effective use of resources
By partnering with agencies in the place of service, DMG utilises their experience, infrastructure and networking. Finances and personnel are used effectively and efficiently and missionaries enjoy fellowship and mutual support. Missiological studies have shown that small teams and agencies suffer high attrition rates as a wide range of gifts and personalities are needed within a team in order to work effectively and provide comprehensive support in coping with crises. Likewise, a minimum team size is required in the home office team to cover essential services by means of meaningful specialisation (synergy). Mission is like a campfire where the burning logs radiate heat and warm each other and thus keep the fire burning. If there a peace of wood is put to one side (or too little wood is burning), the fire will soon die down. In a similar way, organisations need a certain “critical mass” to be effective.
Success of faith missions
Looking back at history, the success of faith missions in the 19th century was closely related to the fact that major decisions were taken in the place of service and not by a committee in the home country. Good knowledge of the local situation, cultural relevance and possible alternatives are necessary to make wise decisions. Today, modern communication technologies permit instant communication with any place on earth so that time delay no longer constitute a problem, yet a pastor or a committee member in the home country lives in a totally different world and will give advice from a personal perspective which may not be appropriate in another culture. DMG is therefore convinced that decisions should be made on site. DMG may ask for clarification when a decision by a team leadership appears strange, but ultimately will not interfere in decision-making in the country of service.
Many opportunities for service
In most countries DMG has several partner organisations and can thus offer a wide variety of placement opportunities. In Spain, for instance, DMG cooperates with Avant, ECM, EM, SEND, TEAM, Worldteam etc., in Brazil with Baptist Union, Crossworld, LL, MNTB, SAM, UFM, and on the Philippines with Christar, SEND, SIM etc. DMG’s more than 100 partner organisations currently hold more than 4800 vacancies for new (long-term) missionaries plus additional for short-termers.
Each of these partner organisations has its own unique character, vision, mode of operation, practices and principles. Agencies are as different as human beings are, and DMG seeks to match each new missionary with the agency that best fits his/her vision, calling, history, gifting, experience, preferred leadership style and needs. Each agency is the optimal one for certain people.
Different characteristics and gifts of partner organisations
Each of these partner organisations has its own unique character, vision, mode of operation, practices and principles: some focus on evangelism, others on church planting or theological training; some are specialised on leadership development, on street children or media ministries; others have a wide variety of ministries; some work in close teams, others give their missionaries much freedom to shape their own ministry; some are denominational agencies whilst others cooperate with several denominations. Agencies are as different as human beings are, and DMG seeks to match each new missionary with the agency that best fits his/her vision, calling, history, gifting, experience, preferred leadership style and needs. Each agency is the optimal one for certain people.
DMG missionaries are members of DMG as well as their partner agency. All services in the home country are covered by DMG whilst those in the country of service fall under the responsibility of the partner agency. The situation is similar in international mission agencies where there is a subdivision between the sending base in the various home countries and the field offices in the countries of service. The only difference in the case of DMG is that the two offices have a different name: the home office bears the name of DMG whilst the field leadership bears that of the partner agency. However, there are no additional structures; on the contrary, many international agencies use DMG as their German sending base, this being the most efficient way for them to receive workers from Germany. Some may argue that dual membership may blur the missionary's identity and loyalty, yet everyone experiences the same issue in his/her extended family: my mother's relatives bear a different name (and often family culture) from my father's family, and yet I can belong to both families without suffering an identity crisis.
Mutual complementation through international teams
DMG missionaries normally serve in international teams together with colleagues of different nationalities: American, British, Korean, Brazilian, Nigerian. They serve with their gifts and receive the support of their colleagues. I believe that this variety of personalities and cultures is intended by God and is an expression of His greatness. Each nationality has its own special strengths and should enrich the others. Yet international teams also require grace, humility, openness and forgiveness so that our differences are celebrated as our greatest asset and are not considered a threat.
Co-operation in the country of service
In the country of service DMG missionaries may belong to different partner organisations and can thus contribute to the mutual recognition and growing co-operation of different ministries. As DMG co-operates with several partners in most countries it can point one agency to the resources available in another. In this way, the use of human, financial and technical resources can be optimised and synergies utilised. This mutual sharing and growth of partnerships are amongst the hallmarks of modern world mission.
DMG as a model for emerging mission movements
DMG frequently receives inquiries from newly emerging mission agencies in the global South which are considering a similar mode of operation, i.e. sending their workers in partnership with already existing ministries in order to build on their experience and infrastructure – and likewise more German mission agencies are emulating this principle. We praise God that our experience is helping others and is becoming a model for new ministries.
Through the co-operation of many partners the Good News of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed, men are finding salvation in Jesus Christ, churches are developing and the name of God is being glorified. The living, almighty God is doing this, and He invites us limited, weak human beings to be part of his mighty work in our needy world.
Dr. Detlef Blöcher