Over 100 WorldVenture staff gathered this June at the YMCA Camp in Estes Park, Colo. for the WorldVenture Global Summit. We invested time and energy in discussing the ethos, the strategy and the resourcing of WorldVenture in light of Jesus’ command to make disciples among the peoples of our world. I want to share some of the conversation from the Summit.
After 71 years, WorldVenture has a grand legacy. Core to our identity—our ethos—is our love for our Savior. By the grace of God, we have been used by God to impact many places and many peoples with the gospel.
In opening the Summit, I shared a bit of my recent Bible reading and reflection. True to the intent in writing his Gospel, John confronts us with choices of faith in John 4, when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well, and as a result of her testimony, many Samaritans believed in Jesus. Even with the confusion of cultural baggage surrounding the story, John captures the stark contrasts of unexpected movements of faith. Like the disciples, I wonder if I am overly focused on getting Jesus his lunch and miss what is on His heart. Can’t you hear Jesus saying: “Lunch? Lunch?! Don’t talk about lunch…look!” The disciples missed seeing the whole Samaritan village moving to faith. Doing what we do is good, but not at the expense of missing seeing people come to Christ. And herein lies a necessary challenge for us: Have we settled for shadow mission?
Borrowing from John Ortberg’s message on Esther, we explored the concepts of “mission” and “shadow mission” as they relate to the ethos of WorldVenture. According to Ortberg:
“A mission is the highest purpose to which God calls us; a shadow mission is an authentic mission that has been derailed, often in imperceptible ways…Part of what makes the shadow mission so tempting is that it’s usually so closely related to our gifts and passions. It’s not 180˚ off track; it is just 10˚ off track, but that 10˚ degrees is in the direction of hell. Every leader has a mission—and a shadow mission. Even Jesus had to battle a shadow mission; it was to be a leader without suffering—to be the Messiah without the cross…If we fail to embrace our true mission, we will live out our shadow mission. We will let our lives center around things that are unworthy, selfish and dark.”
From my journey over the years with WorldVenture, I offered the following WorldVenture ethos examples of mission and shadow mission for discussion at the Summit:
“It’s worth being part of a larger group; for all of us to do well, I won’t always get what I want.”
“Reasonable assessment fees ultimately benefit my ministry goals.”
“We deploy qualified people.”
“God has called me to my ministry, and the mission needs to take a back seat.”
“Don’t send the funds to our support but to our Special Projects fund to avoid assessment fees.”
“We reject candidates not because they are unqualified, but because they don’t fit our missions model.”
Entertaining a few discussions on shadow mission does not ensure our victory over them. I believe we have more work to do in our ethos, specifically to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. I believe that WorldVenture’s mission is as it was at our founding: to make disciples of Jesus among the peoples of the world. Yet, organizationally we must battle with our shadow missions.
From Here to There
During the Summit, we invested thought and time in evaluating what we do and where we do it. Challenged to re-ground our thinking and actions in Jesus’ command to make disciples, we explored our history of going to peoples in great need, which invariably keeps WorldVenture pressing beyond where we have been. Michael Jaffarian, who conducts global mission research, reminded us of the biblical vocabulary: the “least,” the “last” and the “lost,” which Jesus and others used to move our focus off of ourselves and toward kingdom values.
We recognized the four “Uns” (unengaged, unreached, unchurched, and unloved or marginalized) have technical connotations that capture in modern missiological terms the WorldVenture legacy and strategies. We go to those who have yet to hear the gospel, to those who need help in discipling their own people(s) and to those in great medical and educational need. We act on the 360˚ approach to mission, in which we make disciples in the eight spheres: the arts, media, education, church outreach, medicine/family, business, government and science/agriculture. This necessitates a greater intentionality on our part to mobilize all disciples for gospel impact in the “Uns.” Perhaps our greatest challenge is reframing our questions “What is missions?” and “Who is a missionary?” among our U.S. churches and ourselves.
One of the very clear and gracious messages the Global Operations Team heard at the Summit was the strong support for them to move WorldVenture forward, by faith and integrity, to lay hold of God’s collective purposes for us.
So, where are we headed post-Summit?
We are convinced God desires and has made possible the salvation of all peoples, that Jesus is building His church in our world, and that the Spirit of God is drawing men and women to Christ. Thus, we are resolved to be men and women of the gospel who do gospel work among the unengaged, unreached, unchurched, and unloved to influence peoples to be disciples of Jesus. Like Paul’s admonition to Timothy (2 Timothy 2), we want to be part of discipling movements, using our vocational skills and our locational choices to change the spiritual and social realities of the “Uns.”
In re-affirming the intentionality of being disciples making disciples, we also reject the allures of the status quo ministries and shadow missions that take our eyes off of Jesus and what He is about in our world. The GO Team is initiating actions to understand the needs and opportunities among the “Uns,” to engage the “Uns” with gospel disciples of varied vocational skills (360˚ missions) and to mobilize God’s people to the Great Commission ends of WorldVenture.
Goals of 2018
To have 360˚ entry into two new-to-WorldVenture unengaged peoples
To have 360˚ entry into four new-to-WorldVenture unreached peoples
To have 360˚ entry into two new-to-WorldVenture unchurched peoples
To have 360˚ entry into four new-to-WorldVenture marginalized peoples
To deploy 30 units for 360˚ engagements among the “Uns”
To improve the organizational health of WorldVenture to a 4.3 on the Best Christian Workplace Survey (scale of 1-5)
To start active engagement of GO Team succession mentoring
To raise $1.5 million to expedite deployments of 30 units among the “Uns”
2015 Goals in light of 2018 Goals
Create Understanding: We will gather the kinds of information concerning the unengaged, unreached, unchurched and marginalized peoples that will make possible the implementation of 360˚ missions through mobilizing people, prayer and resources.
By the end of 2014, the International Ministry Directors (IMDs) team will articulate WorldVenture’s top 12 “Uns” for immediate and urgent response.
By the end of 2015, the IMDs will expand WorldVenture’s top 12 to our top 25 “Uns.”
By the end of 2015, each WorldVenture team or field will refresh their three-year strategy plans to align to our discipling of the “Uns,” as well as to articulate the needs and opportunities for additional personnel, partnerships and resourcing.
By the end of 2015, we will expand three new spheres in WorldVenture’s 360˚ approach to missions.
Align Systems: We will align WorldVenture’s personnel services to provide member care and training in and for 360˚ approaches among the “Uns.” We will simplify and modernize our IT/Finance services to facilitate our organizational stewardship of resources (knowledge, relationships, strategies and finances).
By the end of 2014, personnel will implement a talent management approach for all headquarters-related staff and for all international staff by the end of 2015.
By the end of 2014, personnel will launch a new headquarters-based training department, with regional and international elements by the end of 2015.
By the end of 2015, IT will have the Salesforce platform operational for Finance and HR personnel purposes.
Mobilize People: We will integrate WorldVenture’s mobilization efforts for unique Mobilization Ministries and Donor Development strategies for our collective efforts among WorldVenture’s top 25 “Uns.”
By Easter 2015, the Mobilization Ministries team will implement strategies for mobilizing people and churches to WorldVenture’s top 12 (as identified by IM), expanding to the top 25 and seeking to mobilize 45 new workers by the end of 2015.
By Easter 2015, the Development team will implement strategies for mobilizing Kingdom Investors to WorldVenture’s top 12 (as identified by IM), expanding to the top 25 by the end of year 2015 and seeking to mobilize 100 new Kingdom Investors and $250,000 by the end of 2015.
More Core Issues
Of the many comments we received on the Global Summit (13 pages worth!), this one captures a prevailing desire from those who attended: “Keep pushing into the core issues.” We will. Personally, my takeaway from our Summit is that we met with the Spirit of God on the mountain. I don’t know how else to explain the fact that we confronted each other in areas of shadow mission and shifted the focus of our work from what we do to those in great need—and oh, by the way, we’ve got to completely redo how we resource the whole thing—except the Spirit of the Living God is at work among us. Even so, much ongoing work remains to strengthen our ethos, focus our work and tackle tough economic realities. I have great confidence that we, the community of WorldVenture, will continue to walk with the Spirit—led by humility, grace and confidence to be men and women of the Word. We need integrity and faith to press into core issues so that others, many others, will also become disciples of the Savior of all men.