Taiwan Church News
August 30~September 5, 2010
Editorial: Refocusing ecumenical relations and ministries
Translated by Lydia Ma
Church ministries in this day and age vary greatly from church to church and are increasingly complex because every church or region has its own unique calling from God and its own distinctiveness. Different churches prioritize ministries differently according to what they perceive is most important.
With so many issues calling for churches’ attention, and the ecumenical movement’s focus on international politics, economy, social justice, etc., PCT’s ecumenical work must seek clarity and discernment. Below are a few important factors to take into consideration when determining what is most important:
Clarify the definition of “missions”: In the past, churches or organizations with plenty of human capital and financial resources would go on mission trips to places that don’t have much of either of these resources and minister to them.
But if churches are not careful, their attempts to help can easily become condescending to those receiving their assistance. As result, not only are the wishes of recipients overruled, well-meaning assistance can turn out to be burdensome and awkward.
After much discussion and reflection between churches all over the world, a guideline was born –Partnership in Mission. This term implies whenever a church begins a mission in a new place, it must work with local churches in understanding the needs and challenges that local people are facing.
In other words, sending churches must really see local churches as their partners and work in cooperation with them. This is the only way for all churches to benefit and grow from such an experience and exchange.
Reach out and honor missionaries: Missionaries have always played a crucial role in the history of PCT. It was largely due to their tireless efforts throughout the past century and their work with our pastors that PCT has become what it is today – a strong and growing church. Their works and legacies can never be forgotten from Taiwan’s church history.
We can only imagine the hardships and struggles these missionaries had to overcome when they first came to serve in Taiwan. Not only did they have to learn a new culture, lifestyle, language, they also had to help their families and children adjust to life in Taiwan. Let’s not forget to express our heartfelt gratitude to them through tangible action such as personal visits.
Training people for world missions: To train a new generation of people to be part of the ecumenical movement requires much training as getting them acquainted with churches worldwide and the dynamics of the ecumenical movement requires a lot of time.
Furthermore, people need time to get acquainted and trust one another as they begin to work with people from other churches around the world. They also need time and practice to sharpen their language skills – especially English – before they are confident in representing their churches abroad at various ecumenical meetings.
Looking at the history of PCT in the past few decades, we notice only a handful of people have been actively involved in representing PCT abroad at ecumenical gatherings. Oftentimes, it’s the same people who venture out again and again.
In conclusion, churches must strive to raise up a new generation of talented people passionate about promoting and participating in the ecumenical movement, or we will experience a generational gap and a shortage of people involved in ecumenical ministries sooner than we ever expected.