Freeing Congregational Mission: A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility, and Co-Development, By B. Hunter Farrell alt

Freeing Congregational Mission

A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility, and Co-Development

by B. Hunter Farrell
With S. Balajiedlang Khyllep

Freeing Congregational Mission
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Published: January 25, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0069
  • ISBN: 9781514000694

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There is a deepening crisis in mission as practiced by North American congregations. Many mission activities are more effective at satisfying church members than making a lasting difference, producing what's too often consumer-oriented "selfie mission." Too much effort is based on colonial-era assumptions of mission launched from a position of power. These practices are not just ineffective—they deviate from mission in the way of Jesus.

Hunter Farrell and Bala Khyllep want to help free congregational mission from harmful cultural forces so churches can better partner with God's work in the world. They invite leaders to lay the foundation for more faithful and effective missions with three core elements:

  • a Christ-centered theology of mission rooted in companionship
  • an appetite and competence to engage across differences with cultural humility
  • insights and strategies to accompany local and global neighbors in co-development

Farrell and Khyllep deliver key takeaways from the latest mission research, inspiring examples from innovative congregations, and a set of step-by-step tools for churches to discern and implement sound practices that will work for them. The local church community is well-positioned to build a spreading circle of relationships centered in Jesus Christ. With this book, congregations of every Christian tradition will find practical help to direct their resources in truly life-giving ways as they seek the mission of God.

"Hunter Farrell and Bala Khyllep bring decades of hands-on mission experience to the urgent task of reframing congregational mission. This book rejects 'selfie mission' and affirms that God is calling North American Christians to walk alongside others as companions in Christ. I highly recommend this book for classroom use. It is refreshing and accessible. Most important, it is full of faithful wisdom."

Dana L. Robert, Boston University School of Theology, author of Faithful Friendships: Embracing Diversity in Christian Community

"Hunter Farrell and Balajiedlang Khyllep have a message for congregational mission leaders: what you do matters. In fact, when mission wanes, the very identity of the church comes into question. The authors provide fresh theological insights for mission as well as practical tools to help God's people recalibrate their ability to participate fully in what God is doing in the world."

Al Tizon, associate affiliate professor of missional and global leadership at North Park Theological Seminary

"Hunter Farrell has written a seminal work for parish mission that promises freedom from the limitations, failures, and even harm of short-term mission trips and parish partnerships. More importantly, he and his companion, S. Balajiedlang Khyllep, provide a vision, a road map, and a vehicle for parishes to revitalize their mission in the world. This is a must-read for every pastor, mission leader, and Christian who longs to participate in the missio Dei, because it is accessible, honest, hope filled, and doable."

Donald R. McCrabb, executive director of the United States Catholic Mission Association and partner in the Third Wave of Mission

"Much of what goes by the name 'missions' in American Christianity is captive to the habits of settler colonialism and slaveholder religion, squelching the good news both for those who proclaim it and those who hear it. Freeing Congregational Mission offers hope that churches can discover the gospel anew and the world can hear and see God's mission in a way that brings hope and healing for all."

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Revolution of Values

"Freeing Congregational Mission is a welcoming multicultural, postcolonial, and interdisciplinary work that encourages a critical forward view of God's mission (missio Dei) aimed at encouraging more faithful and effective mission engagements. With a distinct focus on the transforming energy of the short-term mission experience, the authors have produced an essential mentoring text to theologically encourage church mission leaders and seminarians who yearn for a more inclusive understanding of God's mission. By examining three core elements necessary to overcome current destructive cultural forces, this book demonstrates how churches, by valuing human diversity, human agency, and ethical behaviors, can learn to model dignity, respect, humility, and love of neighbor related to missions in both local and global contexts."

Marsha Snulligan Haney, intercultural theological education consultant, founder and editor of

"Freeing Congregational Mission is a must-read book for anyone who wants to engage in mission faithfully. In my ministry, I have been to over eighty countries and interacted with both senders and recipients of mission. The criticism of colonial models of mission as well as self-serving mission practices is a common theme. And yet there is the understanding that most mission teams mean very well. This book is the first of its kind that I have seen address this in an open, critical, and sensitive fashion. I will recommend it highly for both academic and mission practitioners' use."

Setri Nyomi, senior lecturer at Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Ghana, and former general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches

Read an Excerpt



Section One: The Three Stones
1. The Crisis We Face
2. Unchecked Baggage
3. The First Stone: A Theology of Companionship
Tool 1: What’s in a Picture? Guidelines for Representing Others Through Photography
4. The Second Stone: An Invitation to Cultural Humility
Tool 2: Seeing into Our Blind Spots: Anticipating and Addressing Cultural Differences
5. The Third Stone: The Power of Co-development
Tool 3: Co-development Evaluation Tool: A Self-Check to Help Leaders Evaluate the Implications of Their Actions in Development Projects

Section Two: Using the Three Stones
6. Redeeming Short-Term Mission
Tool 4: Preparing for the Journey: Short-Term Mission Orientation Curriculum
Tool 5: Short-Term Mission Daily Reflection Guide
7. Caring for Vulnerable Children and Families
8. Unbinding Mission Leadership
Tool 6: Checklist for Healthy Parish Twinning Relationships
Tool 7: Aligning Hearts and Hands: Connecting Mission Funding Allocations to Congregational Values

General Index
Scripture Index


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Author photo of B. Hunter Farrell

B. Hunter Farrell (doctor of anthropology, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) is the director of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s World Mission Initiative (WMI). He has worked for over thirty years as a missionary, director of world mission for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and a professor of mission and intercultural studies. He has published articles in periodicals including Missiology, The Journal of Latin American Theology, and Christianity Today.