Updated: Nov 21, 2019
For many years I’ve been involved in training workers for overseas, cross-cultural service and in cultural diversity training. Pretty much universally, sending agencies and workers admit that the ultimate goal of Christian service overseas is the birth and development of healthy, reproducing local churches. So far, so good. Dialoguing recently with trainers of church planters, I’ve been brought to a fresh realization that many young adult wanna-be church planters have never experienced a healthy local church themselves. How can they plant a church if they don’t know what a biblically healthy one looks like?
Here are some of the problems:
candidates are coming from really shallow and theologically weak churches (e.g. – “seeker sensitive” does not produce solid applicants for missions service)
candidates have not had sufficient ministry experience with a spectrum of real people sharing leadership with real (imperfect) church leaders
candidates have not had training or experience in the church planting process
sometimes candidates are going straight from college/university or Bible school without any adult connection to serving (not just attending or being served) in a strong local church
candidates often expect to simply (?!?) reproduce a church on the filed like the church from which they came
candidates have never experienced the dynamic of a plurality of leaders or biblical teamwork
some candidates have never been an active member serving within a decent, Bible teaching church ever!!!
many candidates would have to work for years to help bring their church to the place of ownership and responsibility for missions before they try to go overseas
So, we find church planters on strategic fields around the world who don’t really have a solid church; they don’t know what one looks like; they haven’t a clue how one develops on the field; and, they don’t have a biblical model to describe what a good indigenous church would look like on the field.
Pray for strong churches to produce strong candidates that don’t have such modern deficits in their baggage.