We’ve been discussing some pretty interesting things in my class, God’s World Mission. One of the most profound is it evaluate the elitist mindset we can have as Western Christians that think “missions” happens when some Anglo-Christian folk waltz into a foreign community, begin to tell people about Jesus and claim that that is when God started working in said area.
It seems that the same could be said for N. American Church Planters at times. Now, as a whole I think that most missionaries, church planters and agencies that support them all, have very good intentions; we want to see people come to know Jesus Christ in real and transforming ways. But often times our methods and attitudes can be tainted more with elitism, than with humility and true, practical, Biblical theology. So, as a would-be church planter, its good to get some perspective check on these matters.
This thought comes from Ben over History in the Making:
“‘It just didn’t work out’ is a bad excuse by cultivators when God’s whole purpose for the plant was to tenderize a community. Likewise, when harvesters make headlines without acknowledging the yeeears of cultivating work that went-on before them in their cities… they strip God of credit.”
We neglect the reality that every corner of this world is His, and He has been working – sometimes ambiguously, sometimes quite clearly – much longer at redeeming His world and the people’s within it than we ever have.
So when it goes well with a church plant, and they are growing and engaging their community and the culture at large – lets praise God! And when it doesn’t seem to panning out, only a handful of people give their lives to the Lord, even though the pastors and leaders are sharing the gospel and teaching it faithfully – lets praise God for that too, that His word will not return void (ultimately, at least) and that He has begun a good work in that part of the world, that someday will be reaped. After all, “from Him, and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!” (Romans 11:36)
Thoughts, anyone? Agree? Disagree? Too naive? What do you think: How would you define success: as missionaries, as church planters, as commissioned members of Christ in extending the kingdom of God?
[Caveat and Disclaimer: This is not a post about the shortcomings of any particular agency, group, or even socio-political group of Christians (i.e. Western). This is about the presupositions that often times go unchecked, even amongst the most strategic, thoughtful and well intentioned people and groups. I for one am a big fan of many such agencies, like MTW, MNA, Acts 29, Redeemer Church Planting Network, the Sovereign Grace and 9Marks folks, etc., etc.. So, don't hear what I'm not saying! Thanks for letting me clarify.]