See one. Do one. Teach one.
That is the catchphrase for medical students trying to learn new surgical procedures. While serving in a remote location in the jungle of South America, the teaching physicians only half-jokingly out of the corner of the mouth would so say while instructing my friend, a medical student, demonstrating how to drain a chest of blood after a stab wound, or perform a spinal tap to rule out meningitis.
In actuality, it sometimes takes seeing more than “one” and doing more than “one” before we can comfortably teach others. But there is a certain truth to the saying that applies to the development of mission-sending infrastructure in China.
The Chinese church needs didactic instruction in the mission-sending enterprise. An older, more experienced Western church has developed effective, proven resources that can be used such as Kairos, and Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. There is no reason for Chinese mission-sending leadership to completely “reinvent the wheel.” Using materials like these, the foreign church can assist Chinese church leaders, encouraging them both to lead their churches in mobilization of support for mission-sending efforts and to form mission-sending organizations.
But the Chinese church does not just need to “see one.” They need to “do one” as well. Much learning wearies the mind (Ecclesiastes 12:12), especially if there is no place for application. The Jordan flows into the Dead Sea. Nothing flows out. To keep things fresh, there has to be an outflow! The Chinese church needs realistic methods of sustainably planting long-term Chinese missionaries in the mission field. However, in the context of the present-day sending environment in China, full support for every willing missionary is difficult to attain. Much talk of mission sending, but without action—this is a conundrum the Chinese church wants to avoid. Tentmaking is an option that might work, and which might feedback encouragement to a Chinese church struggling to develop its mission-sending organizational infrastructure, allowing it to know that the Chinese missionary task can be accomplished now. Tentmaking is a model of mission sending that the Chinese church can use to “do one”.
Finally, the Chinese church must also teach. “Communities of Practice” have developed. Mission-sending leaders from various parts of the country, whether working with church-based sending structures or the more recently developing mission-sending agencies, gather in various locations to encourage and strengthen one another. Transparent sharing of failures helps others avoid similar mistakes. Successes need to be shared as well. What is working in one part of the country may work similarly in other parts.
“See one. Do one. Teach one.” Herein lies one potential realistic pathway to development of mission-sending capacity as well as mission-sending infrastructure in China. For more information on the “See one, Do one, Teach one,” approach to mission sending in China, please see my article, “Toward the Development of Mission-Sending Organization in China: Building the Chinese Missionary Sending Infrastructure”.