Alliance for Vulnerable Mission

March 6th, 2008

For copies of papers presented at UK conferences 2015 see here

For copies of papers presented at German conferences (in German) 2015 see here

More books available on vulnerable mission 

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See AVM Bulletins; produced every month

Introduction to AVM (Alliance for Vulnerable Mission)

The AVM (Alliance for Vulnerable Mission) seeks to encourage wider use of mission and development strategies that depend on locally available resources and local languages. These strategies are “vulnerable” in the sense that they do not have fringe benefits built into them, deliberately or otherwise. They will therefore fail unless or until there is strong local confidence in their spiritual or developmental value. The missionary or development worker will allow them to fail rather than prop them up with outside money.

“Vulnerable mission” may be seen as part of the movement toward contextualization of the Gospel of Jesus, which we regard as the theory of many and the practice of few. We would like to see more people take the risks of contextualization and vulnerability in order to reap the rewards that only come to those who value local resources and invest in local languages. If local tools seem slow or weak by comparison with foreign money and English (Spanish etc. – European language), then we say with a wise missionary of long ago, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10) While vulnerable mission may not be the only biblical approach to mission, it deserves much more attention than it has been getting. Let’s talk.


… that there should be some missionaries from the West whose ministries are conducted in the language of the people being reached, without use of outside financial subsidy.



To participate in a list-serve discussion of vulnerable mission issues by email click here (if this link does not work for you, write to PEARL To receive the monthly AVM bulletin, send an email to: For back copies of the Bulletin go to For a video presentation of vulnerable mission click here A series of conferences were arranged to be held in the USA and Europe in 2012 to further these aims. The conferences have now been completed. The rationale for the advocating of these policies is given in many papers collected especially at the following locations:

 Articles by various authors

Articles by Jim Harries, chairman of the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission

Prior editions of the monthly AVM Bulletin


Some of the above articles are already published in Journals including: Missiology: an international review, Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research, Evangelical Review of Theology and Lausanne World Pulse. More articles are sought for publishing on the web and/or presenting at the conferences.

In brief, vulnerable mission is a means of over-coming widespread problems in mission (and development activities) in the two-thirds world, such as the creation of unhealthy dependency, neo-colonialism, the prosperity gospel, mission as secularisation, corruption and chronic under-development. These issues are avoided because by confining themselves to the use of local languages and resources missionaries ensure that their activities are appropriately contextualised. The use of local languages in ministry combined with ‘missionary poverty’ (the two key principles of AVM) enforces humility and operation on a ‘level playing field’ with local people. Once these two conditions have been given as foundation, then ‘Vulnerable Mission’ can be extremely wide in its expression and can certainly include: provision of care for the sick, faith healing, theological and other education, church planting, literacy, water projects and so on.

AVM already has partners in many churches, missions and schools including SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics), SIM (Serving in Mission), Church of God (Anderson), WEA (World Evangelical Alliance), WCIU (William Carey International University), WMA (World Mission Associates), GMI (Global Mapping International), TWR, and many more. More partnerships and affiliations are sought. Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches, groups and individuals are welcomed.

The AVM is led by a small executive board made up of Tim Reeves, (Norwich Central Baptist Church, UK), Dr. Chris Flanders, (Abilene Christian University) and Dr. Jim Harries (Chair, Missionary in Western Kenya). This is supported by an Advisory Board that includes: Alex Araujo (Partners International) and others (see below). Readers are encouraged to peruse the above websites. For a few discussions already engaged in and recorded by Jim Harries with people over vulnerable mission see:



Board Members

Jim Harries, Chairman of AVM, missionary in East Africa

Dr. Stan Nussbaum

Dr. Stan Nussbaum. Advisory board member. Staff missiologist for Global Mapping International.

Frank Paul. Advisory board member. Until recently a missionary in the Chaco in Argentina, now with the community of  'Young Christians on the Offensive' in Germany.

Frank Paul. Advisory board member. For 18 years living in Argentina – mostly with an international team of fraternal workers who are accompanying real independent indigenous churches in the Chaco area in northern Argentina. Ute and Frank Paul now belong to OJC, an intentional interdenominational community in Germany – sharing life, daily work, resources (see: > english , > castellano).

Dr. Stan Nussbaum

Dr. Chris Flanders. Assistant Professor of Missions in the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Also Director of the Halbert Institute for Missions at ACU ( Former missionary to Thailand for 11 years. Advisory Board Member.

Frank Paul. Until recently a missionary in the Chaco in Argentina, now with the community of  'Young Christians on the Offensive' in Germany.

Dr. Jay Gary. Advisory board Member. Peakfutures consulting, and lecturer at Regent University

Frank Paul. Until recently a missionary in the Chaco in Argentina, now with the community of  'Young Christians on the Offensive' in Germany.

Advisory board member, senior advisor to the president, united world missions, consultant for cross-cultural mission partnership. Advisory Board member.

 Timothy V Reeves, member of the Advisory Board, is also a member of Norwich Central Baptist Church one of Jim Harries’ supporting fellowships in England. When Tim saw Harries’ formula: Meaning = Text + Context, he knew he had to get involved; this was different.

Timothy V Reeves, member of the executive board, is also a member of Norwich Central Baptist Church one of Jim Harries’ supporting fellowships in England. When Jim saw Harries’ formula: Meaning = Text + Context, he knew he had to get involved; this was different.

Stan Chu Ilo is a catholic priest and Research fellow at the Center for World Catholicism and Inter-Cultural Theology at DePaul University, Chicago.

Jean Johnson, member of the advisory board, serves as an international consultant with World Mission Associates (, helping bring awareness and change to unhealthy dependency as a result of global mission efforts. Jean spent 16 years as a missionary in Cambodia.

Fred Lewis, executive board member, grew up in one of the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA, received a M.Div. at Denver Seminary in Colorado and then served as an associate pastor at a church in farming country near Tulsa, OK. In rural Uganda he lived and served among the Bakonjo, ministering in Swahili; in Ukraine and Russia he lived in large cities, ministering in Russian. In Pasadena, CA he was Vice President of Academic Affairs at WCIU, a ministry of the US Center for World Mission. His current ministry at WorldView in Portland, OR is occupied with teaching present and future cross-cultural workers how to learn another culture.


Video recordings of Day workshop on vulnerable mission, How to do Partnerships Better, Pasadena, California, 24th September 2013 (watching these four videos would be an excellent way to give a group a dynamic introduction to vulnerable mission, and to how to do partnerships better …)

1. Stan Nussbaum’s presentation. Vulnerable Missions – Dependency

2. Jean Johnson’s presentation. Avoiding being Source of Resources.

3. Jim Harries’s presentation. The Bugbear of International Languages.

4. Panel Discussion


doing partnerships better


How not to Push Missionaries and Development Workers backwards into Holes:
outside languages and resources verses justice in Africa:

A short biblical message in the Luo language of Western Kenya: