By Shannon Youell
This article describes the second of five ways to join the momentum and participate in what God is doing in new and existing communities around us.
It takes a village to raise a child.
This Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) proverb exists in different forms in many African languages. The basic meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family (sometimes called the extended family). Everyone in the family participates especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. It is not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with their grandparents or aunts or uncles. Even the wider community gets involved such as neighbors and friends. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community.
In general this Nigerian proverb conveys the African worldview that emphasizes the values of family relationships, parental care, self-sacrificing concern for others, sharing, and even hospitality. This is very close to the Biblical worldview as seen in scripture texts related to unity and cooperation.i
In part one of Joining the Momentum, I used the comparison of creeks merging together to form rivers that carry collective we-impact. This African proverb goes to the relational aspect….none of us really can, nor should, grow alone. Church planting should not be an individualistic activity but rather a communal effort for the best chances of healthy development and further fruitfulness. The responsibility is too big and is meant to be shared as new believers and new communities of faith are indeed “a blessing from God for the whole community.”
Some years ago, one of the families in our church were required to go to Southern California for the survival of their unborn child. They had six children, a home, and a business to run and the very thought of being away for several months of unknown duration was devastating emotionally and financially. So our church community began to strategize how to help. My idea to add to the other fundraising efforts was to ask our church community and the extended community around us to commit to monthly contributions to be deposited into the family’s bank account to cover their expenses here while they were away (the David Foster Foundation was covering their Southern California expenses). I asked for any amount, from $10.00 a month to whatever folk were led to give, and then I asked for post-dated cheques so that the funds were regularly available and the parents didn’t have to keep seeing if there was enough for their home expenses.
The campaign was a great success and the gratitude and peace of mind of not having to worry about what was happening back home helped that family emotionally in tremendous ways. Most of the contributions were sacrifices by the folk who gave them, but all said it was a journey of faith for them as well, as God continued to provide for their needs even as they gave away some of their own needed resources to join in the life of this child and family. All were blessed in the communal effort of ushering in new life.
In our tribe, CBWC, shared work and communal effort are a core value. In church planting, the birthing of new communities of faith requires a village. One of the ways we do this is through Venture Partnerships that are exactly what our local community participated in for our friends. Imagine: if all 170-plus of our churches joined forces with a new community in Western Canada at only $100 per month, we would have an additional $204,000 to bring Christ where He is yet unknown.
But Venture Partnership is more than just giving much needed funding, it is also a relationship with the new community. A commitment to pray, to mentor, to be a part of what they are doing near and far.
Recently one of our church planters met, for the first time, the pastor from the church who had Ventured with the new church when it first began. A connection was made right away from the common bond of sharing in this work both in the past and in the future. They now had a shared experience and joy!
I think if we truly believe that God invites us to participate with Him on mission that must be a part of our ethos, much like the early church who supported one another for the advancement of the Good News of the Kingdom of God.