“Small is the new BIG”

Posted: October 29, 2012 in Missional Leadership
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Article also available on Connect Magazine…

Everyone would agree that the way we used to do things ten years ago is massively different from the way we do things today. There is no guarantee that what worked with a previous generation will be as effective with a new one. This is especially true in a missions context.  Being involved with missions for the last fifteen years, I have seen some very interesting ways in which people are raising funds for the causes they believe in. I can still recall the first day I realised that my life was going to be different from that of a traditional missionary, and I had to walk away from the norm into the unknown. Financial security was not a given, and the possibility of entering a new month without any finances was a huge possibility.  After seeking counsel, reading numerous books and talking to many veteran missionaries, my journey started. I used my best writing skills, gathered the greatest photos available, and designed a newsletter explaining what I was about to do. I requested various forms of support from different people. Because many people knew about the importance of sending the gospel to all, and because they already had busy schedules, it was easier for them to give and to allow me to do the witnessing on their behalf. 

As time went by and the Matthew 28 message made it clear that we were all to be involved in preaching the gospel, even in our workplaces, things started to change. A new generation was emerging. Significantly this generation realised that we have to move beyond talking, and be the change. No longer was it about ‘me doing it and them funding it’. Today, mission opportunities are emerging daily and young people are way more interested in being part of the experience than in funding a traditional missionary to do it.

For missions organisations this presents a huge challenge. Many such organisations have over the years developed complex structures to ensure they have the ‘big boat to shoot the cannon from’. Our own organisation used to think that we needed to increase in size if we wanted to do more (of course, with that came the responsibility of securing sufficient office space as well as the required financial support). We had what we thought were some of the best worked out plans and execution strategies… but no-one was interested in committing financially to them. We quickly discovered that there were many young people interested in making a difference, but very few willing to contribute financially to it. They all agreed that the need exists and that something needs to be done, but the difference was that they wanted to do it, and not ‘pay’ us to it.

That realisation led us to get involved in a project which would reshape our entire way of thinking about missions. Instead of being the one ‘doing’, our organisation became a platform from which it can ‘be done’. Suddenly we saw a huge increase in commitment, and where we once thought there was little to no money left for missions, even students were by themselves able find the resources needed. The key lies in giving them the opportunity and platform to move from.

In a nutshell, what is actually happening today is that ‘small has become the new big’.

As I write, we have seen more than 2000 young people making use of the various platforms from within Focus Team Leadership Training (FTLT) – and although we have physically seen very little of it coming through our financial books, millions of rands have been raised for missions.

I have no doubt that the traditional way of financing and raising support for missions has changed and will probably undergo more changes in the years to come. What we have realised is that people are no longer looking for the big boats; instead they are searching for the harbours in which to park their own.

  1. Cilnette says:

    There is much to say on this matter … one of the observations that I have made is that “tent-making” is increasing as a strategy for longer term missions amongst a younger group of missions minded people. Move to a nation, plant a cell-group, start a business … reach people through engaging in the marketplace … but giving is part of sending … so we can’t neglect that either …

    • adriaan.adams says:

      So true Cilnette. I am looking at it from an organisational point of view, and with that in mind your comment on tentmaking confirms the younger missionary approach of self sustainability. All they need is a platform. The challenge, and something I would love to talk about, is how does a mega organisation apply these changes within its structures, without loosing its current momentum?

      • Thanks Adriaan! It is exciting to see this and much more to realize the creative thinking and platforms you are providing for strategic engagement of Young People in Missions. We need to prayerfully discern how God is moving in our day. I hope that more people join this conversation. I will also love to see your deep involvement and contribution to the roll out of a Lausanne Africa Initiative on a Missions Africa Trust Fund. Will connect with you on this soon as i return from Kuala Lumpur in mid November. I will love to connect with you, Rudolf Kabutz & Myles Gilam. Blessings on all who seek passionately to do the Father’s Will and to finish His Work!

  2. adriaan.adams says:

    Nana, thank you for your words of encouragement. It is exciting to see what God is doing. What excites me most, and I know very little of it, is how our people on the Africa continent are slowly but surely starting to take responsibility for themselves and finding innovative ways in doing what we all have been talking about for so long. The Africa trust fund is just one such example… Please share with us some of your thoughts as to how you see mission funding are to play a role in future mission activities.

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