Photo credit: Gravitywave (Creative Commons)
Over the past few months, we have had several people from a more traditional church background and who are in the process of leaving for the mission field visit the church that meets in our home.
The exchange has been valuable. Our “Jesus family” has rubbed shoulders with people sold out for the Kingdom who are literally giving up everything they know in order to take the good news into cultures that may be hostile to the Gospel. And those visiting us have tasted a simpler, relational style of church that seeks to follow the Holy Spirit when they come together and that is reaching out using Luke 10 principles into the different spheres of influence that people represent.
Many churches and mission agencies are using simple/organic church patterns on the mission field. These days, mega-churches and denominations do not ususally plan to replicate traditional Western styles of church when they get into a cross-cultural context. Mission sending agencies recognize that the most effective evangelism uses a simple/organic model of church that multiplies along relational lines.
Current experience shows that simple/organic patterns of church are less likely to provoke persecution in environments hostile to the Gospel.
The problem for many of the people going abroad as missionaries is that they have no experience of simple/organic church, even though that is what they plan to do on the field. So when they arrive on the mission field, they not only have to cope with a totally new cultural environment–language, customs, lifestyle; they also expect to work within an unfamiliar style of both evangelism and gathering.
This leads me to two conclusions:
- People who have been involved in simple/organic expressions of church in their home countries are well-suited to involve in cross-cultural mission. If they have been involved in a healthy expression of organic/simple church, they are already accustomed to Luke 10 principles of mission and an informal, home-based style of gathering. But a single simple church or even network of simple churches, even though they may be able to provide financially, may not have the resources or experience to provide the cross-cultural training and support on the field necessary for someone going out as a missionary.
- One of the contributions that the simple/organic movement can make towards global missions is to willingly work with mission-sending agencies, giving prospective missionaries a taste of what they are likely to experience on the field.
Are there ways we can partner together?
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5 replies on “A simple/organic contribution to global mission”
The Lord has used our relational housechurch many times as a display model for those seeking simple organic methods of gathering and worship, several times whole families that were heading overseas have spent time with us in order to experience real churchlife before they made their treks to the mission field and we stay in contact with them to this day.
Christopher, That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I believe that simple/organic church can provide a real service to those going onto the mission field, especially if they are outward looking and can demonstrate Luke 10 models of outreach too. I think it’s great that you’re still in touch with them too.
I was a missionary of twenty years experience when Jesus called me to simple church. That happened on the mission field. My biggest conflict, as I became more simple and organic in my heart, was that I had to live a double life. My mission was anything but organic, yet I was trying to not just “talk about it” but live it. My board would not “allow” me to actually be organic beyond “technique.” This leads me to two thoughts.
1. A huge struggle missionaries who are in a mission organization but trying to plant and encourage simple churches are going to face is that they will struggle with understanding simple/organic church at any depth beyond a technique. They may not live it, just try to “do” it.
2. Perhaps what we need is a group of people who can actually train simple church people cross cultural adaptation and living skills. That doesn’t need to be a new missions board.
Ross, thank you for your insights. Do you think most mission boards are like yours–ie that they do not give any latitude to people on the field beyond techniques?
I love your idea of a group of people who can train simple church people in the skills they need. I’m going to contact a friend of mine who may already be doing this to see if she will comment here.
Great series of posts, Felicity! I love the spirit of cooperation and partnership you address here! When cross-cultural missionaries are entering highly resistant people groups “under the radar” simple/organic communities are the only option. When more workers go to the least-reached people groups, mission agencies will become more open to what you are suggesting. The great thing that happens is that those who come to faith in such a context only know simple/organic. As long as persecution is present and persistent these believers are not going to be tempted to build a structure and put a sign on it–why paint a target on your back needlessly? I praise God that you are using your influence within the simple/organic networks to keep this discussion going. One-third of the world’s population will die without ever hearing the name of Jesus until believers wake up.