Ministry in a community involves two groups, hosts and outsiders, who provide care for a third group, the recipients. The hosts are people or groups in a community who are committed to serving God and the community. Outsiders are, not surprisingly, people from outside the community. They may be short-term missionaries, financial supporters, mobilizers, and so forth. Recipients are people and groups in the community to be served.
Hosts provide at least two very important ingredients to the partnership for ministry:
· Cultural Awareness/Sensitivity
· Long-term Presence
Outsiders provide two ingredients as well:
· Material/Financial Resources
· Special Skills
Each group lacks the others’ strengths. A failure of either group to provide these ingredients leads to a partnership that is one-sided, or ineffective.
The partnership between hosts and outsiders needs to be founded on common philosophy of ministry and common goals, maintained by transparent communication. With this foundation, the two groups must work together to develop a mutual strategy and plan. Any break-down or lopsidedness in this work will lead to problems in the planning and execution of the mission.
The ministry to the recipient should be wholistic. That is, it should focus on the total person and the total community. Individualistic missions will not transform a community. Focusing on only one area (physical, economic, spiritual, educational, etc.) will not transform a community.
Post-ministry tasks must include evaluation of all aspects of the work, and planned follow-up. Seeds planted will not grow well unless they are properly tended. Follow-up work will not improve unless all parties learn from the past. Follow-up is normally the responsibility of the host, but evaluation is important for all.
The Relief Cycle as shown in the diagram shows the role of the outsider as one who may periodically come in to provide skills and resources and then leave. The Development Cycle as shown in the diagram shows the role of the Host, living in the community and continuing in the tending process of long-term ministry.
Early in ministry work, the greater emphasis may be on relief. However, with material and skills transfer, the necessity of the skills and resources of outsiders should reduce, and the emphasis should move towards the development cycle. Progress does not occur if ministry stays rooted mostly in the relief cycle. That is why training is so important. That being said, in any community it is good if both cycles always exist. Why? There are no perfectly self-sufficient communities. We all are interdependent. Everyone lacks something that someone else could help meet. And no one is so impoverished that they have nothing to offer another.
(From research in Dissertation “Strategic Use of Medical Mission Events for Long-term Church Outreach in the Ilocos Region” by Bob Munson.)