1) What does “success” look like?
A: Success is a very Western word, filled with high expectations and an inherent avoidance of experimentation and failure. Let’s avoid that and instead ask: “What can participants expect to gain from being a part of the Cohort?”
Cohort missioners can expect to grow and be challenged in the following five categories:
- Work: Missioners will be given light administrative positions commiserate with gifts and experience.
Why? Missioners will gain a sense of accomplishment through administrative work performed well as well as gain experience in managing office work.
- Incarnational ministry: Missioners will accompany Central American peers in service at the grassroots.
Why? Accompaniment of a vulnerable population results in an increase in its resilience. Also, Missioners will gain experience in working with vulnerable populations.
- Training: All involved would receive training and accompaniment both locally and through visits to other countries and with key leaders in the region. Missioners will be exposed to different community development and ministry models and ideas (i.e. micro financing, grant writing, working with youth, small business, health, community organizing, etc.).
Why? Exposure to different ministry models and contexts results in greater humility and wisdom in future actions. These are skills and knowledge that are transferable to any future career.
- Education: The possibility of formal education through a set of different educational institutions would also be available. This includes a Master of Worldview Studies in Urban Ministry.
Why? Practice is well informed by contextually and experientially tested theory.
- Spiritual Formation: Under both Southern and ‘Northern’ culturally linked mentors, Cohort Missioners will participate in mutual spiritual formation.
Why? A centered spiritual disposition is obtained/maintained to guide personal and ministry choices both now and in the future.
2) Is the goal of the cohort to live in an intentional community, or to foster that community while working on other things?
– To me, it seems artificial to have young people move to a host country for 6-12 months with the sole purpose of “hanging out” and building community with Central Americans. For one thing, no one can sustain a long-term lifestyle of concentrating only on living in an intentional community. For another, what happens when those people leave after a year to the community that they have supposedly built? Won’t the short-term time of the cohort participants undermine the goals of the cohort?
A: The goal is to use forms of community to hone oneself and each other into deeper levels of discipleship, to demonstrate and embody signs of the kingdom and to leverage resources to address needs.
3) What happens to participants of the Cohort after their year is finished?
– Rather selfishly, I’m wondering what you envision for me? Am I, and other participants, simply supposed to resume life as we had known it, or do you see us becoming part of something longer-term in whatever country we’re in?
A: Cohort Missioners, once their year of service is done, should be well positioned to continue service and the unraveling of their privileges for years to come. This experience should encourage and inspire Missioner alumni to plug-in to their communities back home, using what they’ve learned through this experience to be a voice for social action and justice in their own contexts. Opportunities to continue serving in a Latin American context will also arise through the various established networks Missioners will come into contact with.
4) Finally, any ideas on what I will actually be doing while I’m in Central America besides participating in and helping to develop this community cohort?
A: While the regional cohort and national sub-grouping will have some internal focus, they will be outwardly missional in nature. This means exploring and getting involved in the community and culture outside of normal Cohort life, something beyond simple participation within the Cohort. In this way, Missioners can feel free to explore their interests and tailor-make their cross-cultural living experience. The emphasis here is on participatory learning, not on world transformation.
For more information, please check out the CRWM website at: http://www2.crcna.org/pages/crwm_cohorts.cfm