Recently while using my phone as a GPS my battery died and I was left not knowing about what road to take. It had served me well for a journey of several hundred miles, but now at a critical point in my journey its blank screen offered no suggestions for the way forward.
Similarly, GP has been guided well by “The Five Phases” to reach the point where we are today with the international church increasingly becoming engaged in missionary outreach. “The 5 Phases” has led us to the explosion of “Everywhere to Everywhere” across the Wesleyan Church. It has served us well. But where do we go from here?
Up to this point, international missions work in the Wesleyan Church has been primarily unidirectional (from North America to the rest of the world) and unicentric (with the North American church at the center). As illustrated above, E2E changes the picture radically. What the illustration fails to provide is any sense of how communication, cooperation, collaboration, or coordination between global sending churches should take place.
“The Five Phases” provides no help at this point – this is a step beyond. Maybe it is the sixth phase of mission. We need something more than a blank screen, and that need is becoming increasingly urgent.
Instinctually we sense that GP and the North American church need to take a step back and allow the international church to engage as full participative partners in providing leadership. At they same time, we also sense that we too should remain engaged as full partners in the process without dominating or setting the agenda.
One might argue that the International Conference of the Wesleyan Church was designed to fill this role. But to this point it has not demonstrated the capacity or inclination to provide global leadership at the level that will be needed. GP continues to be the primary source of focus and direction for the ICWC. (One is reminded of businesses in post-colonial Africa where Africans man the front desk, while white men sit in the back offices pulling the strings.)
So, if not the ICWC, what other mechanism or structure can provide connection for the E2E movement with appropriate levels of engagement from across the international church? How does such a structure come into being without GP introducing it? How can we facilitate the process of moving into phase six without directing the process?
We need directions for getting to phase six; and we need them now!