Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Does A Church Planter = A Pastor?

In preparation to move to South Asia to equip church planters I read a lot of different books on missions and church planting. One book that I highly recommend to anyone preparing to plant whether in North America or in an International context is Discovering Church Planting by J.D. Payne. Many people were confused when I told them that I was going to be a church planter in South Asia, but that I had no intentions on pastoring a church. Payne helped me differentiate that for them by delineating two types of church planters.

First you have the Apostolic Missionary, who plants and raises up a pastor, then plants again, which is very similar to what we see modeled by Paul in the New Testament and what we typically train and do in my part of the world. Second you have the Missional Pastor, who plants and pastors, and then raises up others from within the congregation to plant elsewhere, which is what we typically see in a Western context.

There are examples of both and one is not better than the other, but due to the nature of International Church Planting, in most cases the apostolic missionary type is the better suited type. The apostolic missionary is also sometimes referred to as a Pioneer Church Planter when they are going into areas where the gospel has never been proclaimed and there is no gospel witness. Where my family and I have been for the past two years is mix of both as we have our home city, which has an established gospel witness; but I also do a lot of traveling to other areas where there is little to no gospel witness. 

My prayer and ambition for my part of the world these past two years has been this:

...and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand."
-Romans 15:20-21

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