Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What is More Strategic Than Training Emerging Leaders?

The part of DOVE I am most interested in is DOVE’s training of emerging church leaders. In the west, many Christians react negatively when they hear the word, “Emerging Church” and they are not sure just what the church is supposed to emerging from. The Emergent Church in the west wants to emerge from its long history of association with colonialism, racism, and the white privilege gained on the years of exploitation of African slaves, the annihilation of the Native Americans, and the theft of Native American land. In a nutshell, they want to emerge from the attitude of entitlement, arrogance and self-confidence that is a part our way of being in the world.

Since Cambodian Christian young adults are from a church with a very short history, what could they possibly need to emerge from? For the most part, the church here has never really expressed a Cambodian cultural way of being the church. Early missionaries introduced a very western gospel and Christian culture, and many contemporary missionaries, both Asian and Western continue to encourage western expressions. Happily, the Cambodian church goes along because a western institutional expression with its hierarchy, property, and maintenance, keeps things very tidy within the four walls of the church.

DOVE believes that Cambodians need to be encouraged to discover and embrace a way of being the Cambodian Church with appropriate cultural expression. As church leadership fights to maintain status, roles, credibility, and order, Cambodian Christian young people are hungry to be about what the church is meant to be: people sent by God to cross barriers with the gospel in both word and deed. These young people resonate with social justice and holistic ministry because they know that engaging in such ministries bears witness to the reign of Christ and many are willing sacrifice and take risks for that purpose. These young people come alive when given the chance to be the church as it has been called to be. They instinctively know that the church does its best on the margins, serving those on the margins.

DOVE, through the Diamond Programs Levels 1 & 2, gives Cambodian emerging church leaders in Phnom Penh and three provincial cities the chance to reflect on the missional nature of the church. Through dialogue, dynamic reflection, exposure trips, field work, and interactive classroom activity, they gain the insight and the experience to minister creatively to and from the margins of society.

Pray with us at DOVE that we can first go deeper, and then wider with our vision of empowering Cambodian emerging church leaders to bring the needed changes to their churches that they might be more of the expression of the church that God intended them to be, and in turn, better reflect God’s love for all his children, and especially the poor and oppressed.

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