Organizational Baggage

So there’s a foreigner that’s come to our services for the past couple of weeks. It’s been great to have him around – he’s had some mission trip experience with a great organization and is extremely willing to jump right in and serve. When he came the first week, though, he was a little confused. Because according to the organization he’s served with (again, an awesome group), doing this kind of missions in China is impossible. Not just his organization – almost every group with a presence here is the same way.

When outsiders find out the way we’re working, their first reaction is to teach us how dangerous it is. They assume that we’re putting pictures on facebook, having open church services, and not speaking in code because we just don’t know about the way things are here. For the record, ‘the way things are here’ is generally NOT the way things are here.

There are many reasons for the fear-mongering (and that’s all most of it is); most of them are wrong. But a big one is an organizational problem. Here’s how it works: a big missions organization wants to get rolling in the mainland, which for them means moving serious manpower and resources. Establishing corporate or non-profit entities, buying properties, etc. They want a major presence in the country that they can formally control. Of course, they know that certain laws in China allow for expulsion for foreign mission workers.

And there’s the problem: if one of their people should run into problems ‘with the law’ and be expelled, that puts their whole organization on the line. Every person, place, entity, and property connected to that person is liable. Because of these solid connections to a larger web, the stakes get much higher for big organizations in China (who came with a desire to preach the Gospel). So the org.’s set up some strict rules – conditions for sharing the Gospel, words you can and can’t say, the kind of ministries you can pursue, etc.

It turns out that most foreign workers are much more afraid of breaking their org.’s rules than breaking the law.

What to do? Break up the network’s formal ties. Maintain connections of accountability and direction, but make sure one guy going down isn’t going to take down everything you have in the country. Free your workers to run risks. Otherwise, you will continue sending 100 men to do the work of one!

Great weekend at church by the way, two newcomers made professions of faith! Preached on the eternal justice of God – or Hell as we sometimes call it. Pretty interesting anyway – check out Luke 12:4-7 – Jesus tells them to fear, then immediately tells them not to fear! Praise the Lord for the two who were set free from fear this week!

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