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Global South: Church Engagement Strategies

As the church has moved south and east, the face of Christianity has changed.[1] If Western Christians want to work towards fulfilling the Great Commission in the twenty-first century, their church missions strategies must include Global South engagement.[2] What are some practical ways that churches in the United States can engage the Global South?

Leaders should also strive for more than head knowledge about believers from other parts of the world.

Learn from and Meet Christians from the Global South

First, church leaders and laity need to know about the Global South. Resources about, by, and for Global South Christians abound.[3] Leaders can study these resources and teach their congregants about the growing number of Christians around the world. They can also intentionally incorporate non-Western Christians in their citations, quotations, and illustrations.

Leaders should also strive for more than head knowledge about believers from other parts of the world. They can meet leaders of local churches and organizations comprised of people from the Global South. Together, they could plan fellowship opportunities between multiple congregations that will allow Christians from various ethnic backgrounds to connect. They could mutually encourage and pray for each other’s ministries and missions endeavors.

Disciple and Equip Christians from the Global South

Western leaders can also call out and equip Christians from the Global South for missions and church planting. The nations have moved next door, and churches should be ready to respond in two ways. First, they should look for opportunities to share the gospel with non-believing immigrants. Second, they should also ensure that Christians from these areas feel welcome in their churches. Then, they can intentionally disciple and equip these Christians from places like Latin America, Africa, and Asia, giving them a heart and vision for their place in God’s mission among the nations.

This investment in Christian immigrants from the Global South could have a tremendous missions impact. Some believers may faithfully labor in their current locations. Others may return to their own people, carrying the gospel and the tools to make disciples faithfully in their new home. Others might go to places American missionaries cannot go. Some might even answer a call to hard-to-reach areas in Europe and North America.

Include National Christians in Mission Strategies

In traditional missions strategies, a church sends a missionary from the United States to another country. The church maintains some relationship with that missionary. Its members might send care packages or teams to work with them. For the most part, however, they have little interaction with national Christians in these areas. Most of their communication, strategy building, and planning come from Western missionaries.

These strategies have a place, and I am not arguing against this method. I wonder, however, if leaders could amplify their church missions strategies by including (when possible) national believers. What might change if church leaders and members were intentional to meet, befriend, listen to, and pray for the national Christians with whom their missionaries work? By intentionally cultivating relationships with national partners through missionaries, church leaders accomplish a two-fold task. First, they put faces and names to Global South Christianity. Second, they challenge and hold their missionaries accountable to continue to build relationships with national believers.

What might change if church leaders and members were intentional to meet, befriend, listen to, and pray for the national Christians with whom their missionaries work?

Plant and Partner with Churches Comprised of Global South Christians

In today’s world, Western churches have unique opportunities to plant and partner with Global South believers. For example, after calling out and equipping Global South Christians in their own areas, they can send them out and support them as they plant locally or around the world. They could also develop intentional relationships with local churches comprised of people from the Global South. In other instances, churches might partner with already existing churches in Latin America, Africa, or Asia. In any case, churches need to view these as genuine partnerships, not patronages. They should guard against one-sided partnerships, where one church makes all the decisions or where information, encouragement, knowledge, challenge, and rebuke only flow from one direction. Instead, they can foster healthy, two-way partnerships where both partners value, listen to, and love the other.

Western churches today have tremendous opportunities to partner with and learn from these churches, but doing so requires intentionality.

Christ has promised to build his church (Matt 16:18). He is doing so around the world, including in places like Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Western churches today have tremendous opportunities to partner with and learn from these churches, but doing so requires intentionality. They can strive to meet Christians from the Global South by learning about the Global South, interacting with Global South authors, and befriending Global South Christians. They can call out and equip Christians from the Global South and include national partners and global churches in their international missions endeavors. They can plant and partner with Global South churches for the sake of the Jesus’s mission, striving to raise up a generation of Christians that will continue to take the light of the gospel to the darkest corners of the world.


NOTES

[2] For an explanation of what the Global South is, see Matthew Hirt’s article "Why and How to Do Missions to the Global South."

[3] For a concise introduction, see F. Lionel Young III, World Christianity and the Unfinished Task: A Very Short Introduction (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2021).

 

Anna Daub is the Director of Special Projects and Partnerships for Global Theological Initiatives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has a PhD in Applied Theology with an emphasis on Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a BS in Biology from Howard Payne University. She has served overseas in South Asia and worked with international students in the United States.


2 Comments


The Lord is sending laborers from the Global South to the countries. Allowing these workers to network with churches and have a forum to share their experiences of God's faithfulness with people in the West might be very beneficial and provide new views. geometry dash

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A very informative article. The Lord is sending out workers from the Global south to the nations. Allowing these workers to network with churches and have a platform to share their stories of God`s faithfulness with the people in the west could be very helpful and offer different perspectives.

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