The Problem – Inherited psychological dependence
The mission community (churches, missionaries, church planters, etc.) tend to conceptualize and organize the mission task based on their home culture, church experiences, and economic standard of living.
Because these mission efforts and outcomes are not readily reproducible for local people, the cross-cultural workers end up subsidizing the efforts.
Before they realize it, local Christ followers and local churches are languishing in a state of inherited psychological, spiritual, and financial dependence.
Inherited psychological dependence results in feelings of inferiority, learned helplessness, cultural irrelevancy, dysfunction, and the list goes on.
The ultimate tragedy is that our Great Commission efforts become counterproductive—meaning local disciples and churches do not become self-sustaining and reproducing in their God-given context and beyond.
Dr. Chris Little summarizes inherited psychological dependence:
“The plain truth is that no one should underestimate the disastrous effects of dependency because it creates addicts who ‘feel increasingly powerless’; it underestimates the recipient’s ‘personal sense of worth’; it thwarts ‘local initiative’; it results in ‘the ease of others’ (2 Cor. 8:13); it robs national churches of the Lord’s ‘good measure’ (Lk. 6:38); and it furthers paternalism since ‘control inheres in aid’ (McGavran, 1959, p. 113)” (2010, pp. 64-65).”
The Solution – Create a culture of dignity, sustainability, and multiplication
We believe a huge part of the solution is to replace mission habitudes (habits & attitudes) that create a culture of unhealthy dependency with habitudes that create a culture of local dignity, sustainability, and multiplication.
Dignity develops healthy mindsets: a wholesome Christ-identity, indigenous-identity, and sense of local-responsibility, local-ownership, and local-determination.
Sustainability creates healthy conditions: reproducibility, scalability, mobilization of local resources, etc.
Multiplication is the healthy outcome: disciples, churches, and leaders multiplying themselves and their efforts in their communities and beyond their borders.
Neil Cole paints a picture of indigenous health: “If we would simply plant Jesus in these cultures and help His church emerge indigenously from the soil, then a self-sustaining and reproducing church movement would emerge, not dependent upon the West and not removed from the culture in which it grows.”