New Year = New 50/50 Mission Covenant Model for Methodists

Date Posted: 1/14/2016

Training is being offered for the denomination’s new “Paradigm of Partnership,” an empowerment model with remarkable mission impact. 
“While at the Texas border last fall, learning about the enhanced 50/50 missions model, the group from numerous conferences was asked to raise their hand if they typically shared dinner with the people they had served in missions on prior occasions,” explains Missions Director Renee Teel, Christ Church, Sugar Land. “Most from the Texas Conference raised our hands, but we were joined by few others which frankly shocked me. It was an indication that many mission teams might be doing missions for various groups instead of with these groups – which is actually the crux behind the 50/50 model we were learning about.”
Rev. Diane McGehee, Missional Excellence Center Director for the TAC, echoes that basic differentiator. “The general church is empowering local congregations on a global scale to implement the partnership paradigm of mission emphasis,” notes Diane, “which is more about an empowerment model for independence and sustainability than a type of drive-by service that more often fosters dependency within the community.” She says the new 50/50 model involves more listening and relationships that fuel an ongoing partnership. “Our conference mission training has long encouraged churches to partner with their mission audiences, but we will be stepping up that emphasis in a training environment we will host in the Houston area and north Texas region in the next few months.”

Leaders Enjoy 50/50 Model “Trial Run” at the Border
Most folks realize the best way to learn is by doing, so groups including the TAC Cabinet leaders as well as teams from Chapelwood UMC, Houston and Christ Church, Sugar Land have been working ‘in covenant’ with local residents near the Mexican border in the last six months. According to Renee, David Phipps from CheNetwork has a series of short videos showcasing the most impactful strategies.
Success stories accelerate the focus on this denomination-wide emphasis on partnership missions. According to Janine Roberts, director of missions for Chapelwood UMC, Houston, nine church members began practicing the 50/50 style of missions last July by partnering with La Santisima Trinidad and First UMC of Weslaco, Texas just 12 miles from the border. “The idea behind this partnership is that mission outreach is most successful when it is a joint effort between those serving and those being served,” she adds. “Each group benefits from the other’s gifts and resources, and each has equal input on what is done.” Chapelwood UMC teamed with locals to hang sheetrock, conduct a VBS, conduct a medical clinic, assist with feeding programs and a worship service. “This new partnership is expected to continue for some time,” she adds, “with follow up trips planned for March and October of 2016.”
“When Helping Hurts”
Conference wide trainings this spring will help churches tell the story and be a part of the story of sustainable change like never before. “To have greater impact,” Renee adds, “We can move away from resource-focused ministry (collecting cans for example) and discovering what local resources are available as well as teaching them to fish rather than just giving them fish. As we have learned from our various team leader trainings over the years, we always wait for an invitation and then start a conversation with those we are serving rather than stick our name on something nice that we did -- and leave.”
An Easy Method to Evaluate Missions 
Having been through the 50/50 model training and experience at the border, Renee has since used a simple “grid test” with leaders at Christ Church, Sugar Land to help evaluate their existing ministry activities. “We plotted our food pantry, for example, in the ‘give a fish’ quadrant but our restorative justice mission work was on the empowerment side because it truly fosters change within individuals and communities,” she explains. “After plotting our mission work, we were able to visually see that we were giving a lot of fish away, and although that is important, we are now thinking more intentionally about empowerment and really investing in longer term, two-way partnerships in Haiti and other places.”
Adds Renee, “We should avoid thinking we have this American plan and, instead, help local communities make their own plan their way. On our last trip to Haiti for example, Rev. Michelle Hall anointed the hands of local ladies and commissioned them to use their sewing talents to fund other needs in the community, and our church provided the machines.”
Chapelwood UMC, Houston and Christ Church, Sugar Land leaders are making a point to ask their ministry partners about their dreams and needs. “Self-sustaining mission work truly will make a difference,” Renee adds. She is most excited about a promising partnership with Uganda Counseling and Support Services (UCSS) where Pastor Ronnie fosters a holistic approach to the economic and agricultural and aspect of providing clean water by digging wells. “This empowerment model offers local training to sustain the locals while the digging teams move to another community to repeat the training model for others.”

Regional 50/50 Workshops Offered in April
Several 50/50 Missional Equipping Workshops will be offered this spring to further explore this model. This “101” type of class will address partnerships for transformation, case studies and implementation ideas to make teams more effective in following this empowerment model. There will be a workshop in the Northern area of the conference and one in the Houston area. Participants can hear Rev. Patrick Friday, Director of Missions Together for Global Ministries on April 16 or April 23. “This type of mission work will integrate a service opportunity and spiritual journey for all involved,” notes Diane. Details will be communicated via conference and district communications when these trainings are finalize with locations and schedules.
 Under the new “partnership paradigm” Methodists across the globe are being encouraged to do more listening within the 50/50 model followed by watching God at work in visible economic and spiritual change. “The book, Welcoming  the Stranger, is also a good resource to update our understanding on how to offer Godly hospitality with eternal impact.”