Monday, August 1, 2011

Thoughts on trends in missions

Two years ago I wrote a post about my trepidation about short-cycle church planting.

I still have a lot of the same questions about this current missions trend. Isaac wants to teach and train church leaders overseas (since there are just about a ba-jillion people ready to train church leaders here in the USA, and since we're not at home here anyways we may as well go where the need is greater). As we look for opportunities to teach overseas it is absolutely amazing to see how many organizations are all doing the exact same thing - moving towards a short-cycle church planting model.

I am okay with that as long as it's done in a balanced and wise way, but too often what we're seeing is that all theological education programs are shut down because they are too institutionalized (fair enough, if they are counter-productive) and nothing is put in their place as all energy is put towards building rapidly multiplying church planting movements.

I find this very short-sighted. If you do manage to be a part of a church growth movement in an area (which is most often actually done through local churches since we Westerners generally suck at evangelism and contextualized church planting), what will you end up with? A whole host of young churches with believers, no idea how to read the Bible, few mature believers, and deep spiritual vulnerability. Training is needed. And training is actually one thing that the West can give the majority world church, though in most other areas I'd say they have far more to teach us!

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 30 years in the missions world. Changes are here but there are more coming. With the financial troubles of the West, the ability to send money is changing. With the emphasis on CP movements, it'll be interesting to see if there is burn-out when many places do not respond with church growth. The areas that do respond - once a church grows, will we have set the foundation for a mature church? Then of course there is the fact that Global South is sending more missionaries than the West is now - how will that change the missions dynamic?


Jaimie said...

My grandfather and uncle do (well my grandfather did, for almost 50 years) aviation church planting in the Amazon river area. They fly the missionaries to the areas to church plant, then help supply and transport them. They've had a pretty great ministry that way. I think the key is keeping up to tabs with the churches you've planted. Some of the native pastors were saved as teenagers, then were 25+ when they became pastors, so they had 10+ years of "experience."

I dunno, I think it can be a good thing as long as you don't leave the churches isolated.

In case you're curious, my uncle's website is here. Why yes, I designed the website. :)

Kacie said...

That is GREAT... because that is long-term, hands on church planting with follow-up and discipleship.

What I've seen too often nowadays is more like a bunch of people that "pray the prayer" after hearing the gospel for the first time, and they are counted as a new church and told to go do the same... with little to NO further discipleship. That's scary to me.

And... good website work. :)