• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Urgent Need for Church Planters

For the past year, we have been talking about the “crisis opportunity” we are facing in terms of our need for new workers.  We all recognize that there is an urgent need for more workers to multiply disciples and communities of believers.  Ask anyone of our teams and they will tell you that their number one need is for more people to participate in ministry.

Normally, we look to see this need fulfilled by workers coming from one of our Sending Countries: Australia, Canada or the US.  However, while recently reading through the book, Global Church Planting, I was reminded of a mobilization hub that I had been overlooking, that is, the very community of believers we are involved in establishing.  We often hear that “the resources are in the harvest”, but I don’t think I had ever fully made the connection between our need and the possibility of that need being fulfilled by some in our actual church plants.

If discipling is at the heart of what we do, it must include seeking to develop a heart for the world in those we are discipling.  These disciples would then in turn train
others to have this same attitude, this same heart for the world.

So praying to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers means seeing workers mobilized from Australia, Canada and the US as well as from the very communities of believers we are establishing.

10 Responses

  1. Yes, this is one of the important keys not only for the mobilization of church-starting evangelists globally but also for facilitating church-planting movements in order to saturate their own countries with the gospel. Church planters from wherever should prove themselves in ministry before any resources are wasted in sending them to seek to do cross-culturally in another language what they have never done in their own language and culture. Those who have been proven successful in ministry in their own culture from wherever should be encouraged to use their gifts to facilitate church planting among the unreached.

    In the USA, Canada and Australia there is a strong trend towards justice and mercy, which in itself is good, but it has drastically reduced the pool for the mobilization of church-starting evangelists in the churches of the Western world. Scott Moreau, a missions professor at Wheaton College, estimates that two decades ago half of his graduate students believed building churches abroad was their top priority. “Today, it might be 10%,” Moreau says. “Fighting trafficking, orphanage work, HIV-AIDS, poverty—that is probably 50%.” (Those remaining have a variety of primary interests.) With the Western churches to a large degree loosing their fire for church-starting evangelism we will likely find the most productive pool for the mobilization of church-planting facilitators to be in the Majority World. It seems that the majority of today’s youth have a passion for God’s cultural mandate but much less interest in God’s evangelistic mandate.

    World Team should be careful to maintain priorities according to biblical principles.

    • In the book, Global Church Planting, Ott and Wilson make the point that a church planting team needs a variety of gifts on a team working together to see the multiplication of disciples and communities of believers. No one believer does an entire church plant on their own. That’s why I think it is important that workers demonstrate the use of their gifts prior to being sent into another culture. If someone is not sharing their faith or discipling others in their own culture, it is a huge step to believe that they will suddenly start doing it in another culture.

  2. Ed, you eliminated me as a candidate for cross-cultural ministry – I never planted a church before I got to the Philippines.

    What if we sent in one Western family to form the bi-cultural bridge community team from the “men of peace” they find in the community. It takes longer, but you don’t need as many westerners to get a CMM started.

    Each missionary on our team has a group of national believers they work with as a “second team”. Now, instead of 1 team with a plan and goals, there are now 4. We are passing on the WT values of how to work in teams, and we are training them to start their own teams. We didn’t plan it this way, but this is how it evolved.

    • Very insightful comment. I would see your ‘second’ team as more of a ‘parallel’ or ‘equivalent’ team. The idea of ‘second’ could imply that it is somehow less than the ‘first’ team. More and more teams are becoming multicultural from the start as you say.

      • My “second” team is less than my first in a lot of ways. Patrick Lencioni says that you must have your “first” team that takes priority over all others. In other ways, my second team is more significant. They are the fruit of God’s transformational work in their hearts, and I get a lot of joy in journeying with them as they grow and become leaders in His church. This second team could become my first if we decide to break up our current team here.

      • Just like said to Ed, I would feel ‘left out’ if I was part of your second team. I understand your reasoning a la Lencioni, but I think other vocabulary might be better to use. One question: is your first team monocultural or multicultural?

      • We call them our “Timothy Groups”, with the theme verse of 2 Timothy 2:2. This has so far proven to communicate the idea of a “second” team without negatively putting them down. They are now seeking their own “Timothy’s” to train.

        Yes, my first team is multicultural, with Teng and Edna Candelaria who are from this island serving as our team leaders. With them serving in leadership of the team, the ministry has certainly taken a different direction (in a good way) than if a westerner was leading it.

      • Excellent response Bryan! I like the multiplicational emphasis in the whole process. Maybe we could talk about parents, siblings, grandchildren and great grandchildren teams (: Teams/communities must always be creating other teams; it’s in the DNA of what it means to be a team/community. Thanks for these insights.

    • Bryan, I was trying to be brief and in doing so I was likely too categorical in the way I expressed myself. A church planting team member should have demonstrated the successful application of the requisite skills and knowledge required to facilitate church planting in their own language and culture before being sent cross culturally. I did not mean that all members of a team should have actually planted a church. How can one facilitate and train a national church planter if they do not have the requisite knowledge, skills and experience somewhere? I do believe that it is poor stewardship on the part of an agency not to insist on a minimum criteria of knowledge, ministry skills and successful experience before being sent. Yet church planting that is successful is God at work and His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses and yes in our ignorant also. After all it is Christ who builds His church. Even the most knowledgeable, the most skilled and the most experienced are useless without the supernatural enabling of our Lord.

      • Ed, I like how you balanced being prepared with serving out of weakness. Very true. I do think we as Westerners tend to lean towards too much preparation, and end up training dogs to fly like eagles. Then we blame it on their lack of training when they can’t fly. I like the idea of an apprenticeship in church planting being done in their home country before coming out to a field, as this is more effective in separating the dogs from the eagles and provides them skills and training at the same time. My point is, I think we can over-emphasize training as a factor of future success rather than some other factors that I think are more significant, like attitude, self-awareness, emotional maturity, stable family background, etc.

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