Global Missions: Deep or Wide?

There's a fairly big movement among churches these days in the area of global missions. Rather than supporting several different global partners in several different locations, churches are choosing to focus their involvement in just a few areas. They argue that this pattern allows them to go "deep rather than just wide."

The idea is this: If the church focuses on one specific area, they can streamline all their resources (time, talent and treasure) and invest all their energy in a specific area to make a more lasting impact. Many churches identify strategic global partners that are congruent with local opportunities (for example, a church in a community with a large Vietnamese population would focus global partnerships in Vietnam). Bob Roberts at Northwood Church has even coined a term for this kind of philosophy: he calls it "glocal."

I love a lot of the ministry these churches are doing, and certainly don't want to say anything that would disparage it. But, I feel like the choice between deep and wide is a sucker choice - a false dilemma.

I feel like you can go deep and wide with a breadth of partnerships, provided the church is actually engaged in partnerships. 

If your church wants to be intimately involved in every aspect of the ministry, you can't do that with a breadth of partnerships. But then again, that's not really partnership; it's just an extension of your authority and presence overseas.

If your church wants to come alongside people who are having great ministry in a specific context in a way that postures the church to respond to the individual needs of those ministries and be involved in their work, there is no reason the church can't do that for a breadth of partners. If you choose partners who are good at partnering and combine that with a philosophy of true partnership, there is no reason the church can't go deep and wide at the same time.

God is at work all over the world. I love the ability McKinney Church has to truly partner with dozens of people in dozens of locations doing dozens of different types of ministry. It allows our people the freedom to  choose to engage in partnerships that are particularly meaningful to them while providing regular reminders of the breadth of what God is up to in a variety of contexts.