church planting: mistakes in missions

The blog’s still lacking quite a bit of information under the strategy section of my theology page; I’m finding it’s quite challenging to be concise when writing about this subject (or any subject if I’m honest).  This is especially true because I want to do an adequate job of explaining our strategy for evangelism to all who are interested.  So I’m starting with this — what I see as two of the largest problems in missions today.  I don’t want our strategy to be a mere reaction to these shortcomings, but I think that looking at some of what is wrong today is beneficial to us as we try to carry out Christ’s mission in the world.

I need to preface what will be an entire series of posts with the following statement of disclaimer:  These thoughts are not original with me.  They have been influenced by many people, and what you’ll see in this series are my personal conclusions after being blessed to learn from such men as David Watson, John King, Earl Lavender, Brian Hogan, and George Patterson, among others.  And above all of those men, Godly as they may be, I have sought to allow the Spirit to guide my reading and interpretation of scripture, as well as my thoughts on the subject.  Be that as it may, I am still flawed — as are, without a doubt, some of my thoughts.

Mistakes in Modern Day Missions

1.  We lack trust in God to accomplish HIS work of…

  • drawing the lost to himself, in order to save them
  • assembling saved believers into a community of faith
  • maturing Christians into obedient disciples of Jesus Christ

So we devise strategies in which WE are responsible for accomplishing these tasks ourselves.

2.  As a result our programs become incredibly complex systems, in which…

  • missionaries are judged based on “their” successes as a church planter / savior
  • church planters are forced to take (and cling to) leadership positions within new communities of faith, only to attempt to surrender those responsibilities after several years of coaching locals to be followers
  • churches routinely carry the baggage of another culture from their point of inception, and that baggage often lacks a strong conviction in the Word of God as the only authority
  • the “movement” is nearly impossible to reproduce
  • churches that do begin are typically churches who lack trust in God to accomplish his work of drawing the lost to himself…

And we’re back to the beginning of a vicious cycle.

We lack trust in God to do what he’s promised, and so we construct elaborate schemes in order to do his job for him.

Therefore, as far as strategies for evangelism and church planting go…

1.  I want to be certain I’m not attempting to, or being expected to, perform God’s tasks of rescuing the lost, assembling the saved into a community, or maturing Christians into the life for which God has called them.

2.  I want my strategy to be as simple as possible, ensuring that:

  • I am not responsible for leading new congregations
  • I am not unknowingly passing on my own church culture to new churches
  • the movement is both sustainable and reproducible

For this to be possible, church planters are going to need to be incredibly intentional in the way we approach a strategy for evangelism.  I’ll get into that a little more in the next post on this topic….



Filed under church planting, mission

9 responses to “church planting: mistakes in missions

  1. John Gardner

    Greetings in the name of our Lord, little brother. Just wanted to say I’m enjoying your writings. Looks like you are keeping busy while waiting for Baylor to make her appearance in this world. It also seems like God is really helping you understand some very important truths. I pray His blessings on the three of you – yes in a wonderful and powerful way. Expect His wonders and signs every day.
    I love you little brother.

  2. John Gardner

    I really love your title “Aliens and Strangers” if we would only live that way in our “home” country. Maybe that is too radical, maybe.

  3. Ike

    Ultimately all that matters is the glory of God (Psalm 57:5). And God has ordained that He will receive most glory through His bride, the church (Ephesians 3:21). Restoring sound doctrine concerning the nature of conversion is foundational to being a church that brings God the glory He deserves!!

    I thought you might find these two sermons helpful.

  4. Big brother John,
    God is always helping me to understand truths about him — more importantly he’s always empowering me to be obedient to what I’m learning. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. Oh, and I should add that your life after retirement points to the fact that you’re definitely either an alien or a stranger… even in your “home” country.

    I agree that God’s glory is the chief objective of existence. Unfortunately I’m not able to watch videos with our internet functioning the way it does. Do you happen to know where I could find manuscript forms of those sermons?

  5. Ike

    I’ll try to find out.. and if so…..I’ll send them to you. Paul Washer is the speaker….he was a missionary is Peru for years and now runs “HeartCry Missionary Society.” They work primarily with indigenous missionaries but also recognize the continuing great need for cross-cultural missionaries.

    Washer often asks missionary candidates if they have ever passed a night praying because of their great burden for the lost. Most answer in the affirmative. He then asks them if they have ever passed a similar night burdened without sleep because there are places on the earth where God is not esteemed and worshipped as God. Most do not even understand the question.

    Although the lostness of men should drive us to the mission field, it should not be our primary motivation any more than loving our neighbor should be a higher commandment than that of loving God. Those mst effective and enduring on the mission field are those who are there first and foremost for the glory and good pleasure of God. When every other motivation or reason for stayng has failed them….they remain because above all things they are there for God!

    I’ll try to find those sermons in print….if not ,I will send what I can find. Washer is well worth listening to… or reading.

  6. Ike

    Uh-oh….I can’t find an email address for you. You can email me if you wish….I assume you can see it:-)

    BTW….I am already praying for you and your family. If there is more I can do I will be in contact with you somehow. I “lean” towards reformed theology…..hope that doesn’t frighten you!!! Also…my wife has cancer and her breast surgeon goes to your area several times a year…his name is Dr. Gordon Kauffaman….maybe you know him?

  7. Lance

    Thanks, Brett. Enjoying catching up on your thoughts today (and not done yet). I think this not only applies to church planting, but also to how most churches are “run” back home. I find myself often overwhelmed and not sure where to begin here… got to start walking and trusting more myself.

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