Freeing Congregational Mission: A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility, and Co-development

B. Hunter Farrell with Balajiedlang Khyllep
IVP Academic, 272 pages
Published January 25, 2022

I’ve been a PC(USA) mission co-worker in Korea since 2013. During my orientation, we often spoke about our collaboration with both U.S.-based congregations and global partners in our country of assignment as we engage God’s mission. We even drew a diagram with three intertwined circles to represent the connection between mission co-workers, global partners, and U.S. congregations. However, I have found that it is more difficult to engage U.S. congregations than global partners, particularly because it seems we do not always speak the same language around mission.

In that sense, this book is very good news; I will recommend it to our supporting churches in the U.S. as a resource for pondering what it means to engage in mission. The authors use the analogy of three foundational stones (companionship, cultural humility, and co-development) to help readers rethink the foundation of a mission relationship. They present a Christ-centered theology of mission rooted in companionship which challenges the colonial mindset of mission and a consumer-oriented “selfie mission.” Reflecting on our own mistakes and pointing out pitfalls in mission practice is not an easy task. And yet, this kind of constructive reflection exposing our vulnerabilities is necessary to participate in Jesus Christ’s transformation of the world.

I’m mostly intrigued by the book’s concept of shared vulnerability. The authors state that, “the desire to accompany your companion, especially in their moments of vulnerability, is a characteristic of mission as companionship.” In the time of hardship when you share your vulnerability, the opportunity to deepen the relationship will come, creating space to build trusting relationships with partners. In addition, the concept of “mission from the position of weakness” is a great help to those seeking a deep companionship with partners in the mission field. For this reason, this book will help not only congregations in the U.S. but also mission co-workers currently working in the mission field to reassess relationships with their partners, including U.S. organizations.

The biggest strength of Freeing Congregational Mission is that it offers effective theological reflection on mission and well-organized tools for practical use with local churches. I can imagine that it will be a useful resource for those planning any kind of mission work, including Short Term Mission (STM) trips. This book not only addresses the shortcomings of STM trips, but it also suggests ways a carefully crafted STM trip can provide a great opportunity to transform lives — both of those who take the trip and the partners who host them. The authors appear to have written this book with an audience of White churches in mind, and I believe this book will help them and many other Christians who want to carry on mission in their daily lives. I hope this book will be widely used in many ways in the church.

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