Friday, December 14, 2012

Lessons Learned in Year One - Part 3

This is the third post in a series on lessons learned in year one as International Church Planters. To see part one go here and part two go here.

11. Find A Local Church to Invest In and Partner With

It is weird coming over as an International Church Planter when your primary role is to equip national brothers to be sent out to plant churches. In other words we help get them started, but we neither pastor or lead the church once it really gets started. This leaves us with the question of what to do as a family for church. Some cross-cultural workers choose to do family church or a form of house church, but in most cases with other foreigners. Neither of those is bad and we have freedom in Christ to express church in those ways but we have learned that it is beneficial to invest in and partner with a local church. This allows for further relationship building and it allows you to be a part of something larger that is trying to hopefully love and reach the city in which you live in. We made the mistake of bouncing around a good bit early on but are now actively involved with one local body that is also allowing us to help equip the people in the church to further the mission of God here.

12. Be Adaptable and Flexible

Some would say that these words are interchangeable and in some ways they are but not completely. In a broad sense they convey the same meaning but they are not identical. By being adaptable for us is making the long-term changes that needed to be made for our time here. In other words by adapting to our surroundings in a contextualized way. This can cover all areas of life from clothing to the way we drive. Being flexible is more of a short-term thing such as in the moment. So we have tried to adapt ourselves to the culture and tried to be flexible in the moment of whatever happens to be going on.

13. Work Like an Arminian and Sleep Like a Calvinist

We believe that we need to give it all that we have while we are here. So we like to adopt the mentality that while we are awake we work like an Arminian as if the work here depends on us. But at the end of the day we sleep like a Calvinist because the reality is that we know the work here does not depend on us but on God alone. We are here to do our part and the rest is up to God.

14. Take a Sabbath and a Vacation

I wrote a blog post on this one back in September when we took our first vacation in over a year. The truth is that we all need to take a day of rest to rest and remember that it is God that gives the increase. Along with this, the idea of a regular vacation is good as an extended period of rest or Sabbath. The truth is that whatever people group or city you are focused on, they will still be there waiting on you when you get back. Take a day off, take a vacation and enjoy yourself.

15. Remember It Isn't Simply About Winning More People to Christ but About Planting Churches Amongst All People Groups.

This is actually a quote from John Piper about missions. New followers of Christ is always something to rejoice about but I agree with Piper that the unique task of missions is to plant churches amongst all people groups because through the planting of the local church more people will become followers of Christ.

1 comment:

  1. I've often thought about #11, not that I haven't thought about the rest. There's a pattern among many Christians who don't stay committed to a particular church, but rather wander from one church to another as they see fit. They never really commit to any church and never submit to the discipline of any church.

    Because of this, the wisdom is that we should remain committed to a single body of believers so that we can be held accountable in the proper manner as an integral part of our sanctification.

    However, it is often not possible for some who are called as pastors or church planters to do that. The pastor I have worked with in the country where you are is such a one. He and his family are members of an older church in his city. He himself goes about planting churches, which he pastors for a while until he raises up a replacement and goes to plant in another neighborhood. Meanwhile, he recognizes the need to have a place where his family can have a stable church family and he himself has men who hold him accountable.

    By contrast, we dissolved a relationship we had with a church in yet another country because the pastor wouldn't even call elders or deacons from the church to hold him accountable. He desired to be a kind of dictator over the church he pastored.

    I think the answer is in the heart of a follower of Christ to desire the kind of consistent discipline that holds him accountable so that he and his family continues to grow in likeness to our Lord.