Training for Pioneer Missions – Can we do it?

Our seventh question is:How will the house/simple church networks train and send missionaries (apostolic teams) to the field?

This question focuses on training. How are we going to train this new “army” of missionaries, apostolic teams, to take the gospel to places that are nothing like home, and the people have a different way to view life and their world?

These fields are in areas where there are no Christians, no churches, no support systems like we have at home. This is one of the reasons house/simple church folks are so well equipped to go to these areas – they dependence is not on an institution but they have been discipled to be self feeding and to have a personal intimacy with Jesus. So how do we train beyond normal discipleship?

What about cross-cultural training?

Language training?

Understanding methodologies and the dangers of foreign influence rather than Kingdom of God influence?

Let’s talk about it – what are your thoughts?

19 responses to “Training for Pioneer Missions – Can we do it?

  1. Can we do it? No, of course we can’t, the task is too daunting, the difficulties too great.

    Can Yahweh do it? YES!!! He most certainly CAN. He can do it through you, through me, through the ones he chooses to send. He reached you, he reached me, he can reach anyone!

    There’s only one thing that will touch people of all cultures, all backgrounds, all beliefs – sacrificial Love. Love has a message all his own. Nothing is too daunting or difficult for Love. I’m using a capital ‘L’ because Love is a person.

    We need to remember the two greatest commandments. We really do need to be trained in and by Love first, and in and by teachers of language, technique, management and the rest second. If I could take only one skill into the mission field I would choose Love. And that’s true for the mission field here where I live just as much as for the mission field far, far away.

    Before we can reach people we must disarm them. Everybody on this planet believes in something or someone. Unless we can demonstrate that our lives are different, nobody is going to listen no matter how good our language skills!

    I’d like to urge that learning to love unreservedly in practical ways should be a constant thread in any training. The tiniest acts of kindness, patience, or gentleness will always be noticed, so will the tiniest acts of neglect, irritableness, or thoughtlessness.

    Why am I stressing this? Because it’s easily forgotten. But with our involvement in small, intimate, relational groups at home we have a head start and the best possible place to practice. Those we send will usually have been well-trained. HalleuYah!

  2. Brian Wheaton

    When it comes to training, I think we should look to professionals. As we all use professionals such as lawyers and accountants, I think the church should look to professionals (mission agencies) in the field of missions. There are many agencies who have the experience and systems for preparing and sending for cross-cultural outreach.

    When a church works with mission agencies I think it is important though that the agency does not replace the connection the church must maintain to the process. The church needs to stay connected to the missions process to enhance vision, knowledge and commitment among all to missions.

    There will be “apostles/missionaries” raised up in out midst that have the call and should be sent. In addition, a very strategic approach is to support indigenous workers closer to the culture who can be sent for much less effort and resources then required to send Americans

  3. A question is to what extent existing missions organizations can provide the needed cross cultural training?

    For example, Wycliffe Bible Translators has a lots of resources and possibly workshops on second language acquisition. Also the Zwemer Institute for Muslim studies offered courses on planting churches in resistent contexts, that used a house church model (they probably still do).

    Also George Patterson had a 40 hour interactive training CD.

  4. Brian – I agree we need to draw from the experience and the knowledge that the “professionals” have. This would lead to some exciting partnerships – the key that these networks would allow the HC Networks to have the liberty to keep the DNA of simple church in its leadership structure and methodologies. This is important so that the missions effort does not carry the same “baggage” that many missions orgs. have in their ideologies and policies.

    I am hoping that we can draw from the many, possibly hundreds of missionaries who are now involved in simple/house church life. In fact I am hoping we can establish a functioning network that draws from those with experience as well as missions orgs. who are HC/SC friendly. The main thing is keeping the network relational rather than institutional.

    This will also allow for viable partnerships to be established with HC movements nearer to the field and see apostolic teams raised up from amongst them and sent to the unreached. I see HC Networks here in the states partnering with other networks in other nations to reach a people group(s).

    This will certainly take much prayer and willingness to network and partner. We are living in some exciting times!

    Fred – These are great resources, I am familiar with them and thinkw e need to draw from as many of these sources as possible. Thanks!

  5. Mark Caldwell

    I believe that it would be very helpful in stimulating m’s involved in house churches if you had some of these H2H conferences overseas where house church is being done and invite some of the m’s and house church leaders involved in house church planting. This could serve as a link and mobilizer of awareness, learning from each other.

    Mark in Thailand

  6. Mark – You are so right! That is some of what I do – specifically in the area of mobilizing HC’s to reach the unreached. Basically all it takes is an invitation and a green light from the Lord! I know of several who do the same as I do. By the way – where do you living in Thailand? I lived in HatYai (South Thailand) for several years.

  7. I think you would be very wise to go in with a team no matter where and bind the strong man like Jesus said before you sending in people to do any kind of evangelism.

  8. These are great points from everyone, the issue of getting someone from SC/HC USA to an Unreached People that God puts on someone heart is the essence. How do the called from SC/HC get prepared and grasp the Cultural and World View issues.
    I know there are many avenues to get to this, the information is there but the human, mentoring aspects must also be there.
    I would think to be able to get a networking group of Missionary Mentors and have them known by their region of the country would be helpful. These could be returned M’s, agency people who are SC/HC participants, and asundry other experienced cross-cultural workers. The Apostlic gifted people of the larger church must be known! This years H2H Missions roundtable gathering should help this group get to know one another. We have to have relationship to continue with the SC/HC DNA and we don’t want want organization to go beyond relationship. This is going to be exciting to see what God does as we make our selves available and flexable to fit His ways.

  9. Larry – let me affirm your point regarding not letting organization go beyond relationship. There is a tendency to get ahead of what the Lord is doing due to our zeal and desire to “get it done!” and relationships are left in the dust. We will need to provoke one another to good works when we find ourselves doing that. A network of mentors, trainers, coaches etc that will be serving the SC/HCs need to have a level of intimacy in relationship to shoot straight with one another when we fall back on our old familiar ways. Hopefully we can do that without derailing the cause. That will be our challenge.

  10. Samuel Wright

    Hello Everyone,
    Thinking out loud here. How do we train/engage in Pioneer missions and stay true to the non-hierarchical, priest-hood of the believer house-church DNA & engage those peoples who are unaware of the gospel of Christ? We have the para-church organizations which are good at what they do, however, their strong suit is not currently recognizing the need for the pioneer to continue to be an extension of the local body in a tangible way. Also it seems that we have a challenge to disseminate the expertise of these organizations throughout the HC movement. Good Missiology breeds healthy churches. The goal is Mt 28 locally and globally.

  11. Dear All,

    If we are to be fruitful sending house churches / apostolic teams from the western world into the last remaining unreached people groups, I believe that we must look at the “unknown/unseen” baggage that most westerners will carry with them. My wife and I call it: “the White Man’s Burden”. (WMB)

    Simply put the WMB is: “the supposed or presumed responsibility of white people to govern and impart their culture to nonwhite people.”

    In an excerpt from a speech by William Jennings Bryan, a gifted speaker, lawyer, and three-time US presidential candidate, basically sums up the position that there is such a thing as a the “white man’s burden”.

    No one can travel among the dark-skinned races of the Orient without feeling that the white man occupies an especially favored position among the children of men, and the recognition of this fact is accompanied by the conviction that there is a duty inseparably connected with the advantages enjoyed. William Jennings Bryan — July 4, 1906

    This speech, made on Independence Day 1906, was not that long ago. You see in his own words that he is not joking and that he really believes that the white man has an “especially favored position” vis-à-vis, the dark-skinned. YUCK!!

    We have seen the visible signs of this “burden” from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. As white missionaries enter poor nations they automatically, like “default mode” on your computer, enter in with ideas of how they can help. Most of the time they simply transpose what works in their country to the country they are in, with little thought to what is indigenous or reproducible at the local level.

    One example from our experience is the effort made to bring into a poor nation in Central Asia “solar ovens” that would help poor villagers cook meals so that they would not further deplete their scarce wood supply. Well, as things actually worked out, the solar ovens – which can be produced with local materials although the concept is foreign – are not being used to cook meals at all but are used by some to boil water for tea.

    I guess this is a “hybrid type” of success story but nevertheless the principle of “what worked for us is what will work for you”, carried on by the power of the WMB, still remains alive and well on planet earth!

    I have read of poor African nations almost being forced by Western governments to purchase huge farm tractors to jump start their “deplorable” economy. Well, a few years later the tractors are converted into “city taxis” and farming goes on as it has for generations. But now the country suffers under more debt to rich nations for purchasing the tractors in the first place.

    Your feedback would be much appreciated.

    Jeff and Maria Gilbertson

  12. I am super stoked that you guys are taking this wonderful concept of simple churches beyond the borders of the United States and working to see brothers and sisters gathered in from among the world’s unreached peoples. I am actually hoping to find some house churches in the Oklahoma City area that I can go and speak at and encourage them to consider sending people from their group to become missionaries among the unreached, and in my research to find a house church around here I found this website.

    Regarding Training: Heart of God Ministries the agency I work for is a Missionary Training Agency. We hope to train and assist in sending missionaries to go long-term and minister among unreached peoples to see not just one church planted, but churches planted that plant other churches. After skimming through some of your articles I think you will find we area great fit for what you are wanting to accomplish.

    The Training is Five Months long and incorporates lessons on Spiritual Development as well as Cultural Adaptation and Language Learning skills, in an effort to prepare you to survive long-term in an area of the world where the enemy isn’t to excited to have your presence.

    On top of those lessons there are team building exercises as well as stamina and endurance training that is incorporated in the form of Physical Training to prepare not just your mind and soul, but your body as well to the rigorous demands that many rural areas of the world will put on your system.

    You can find out more by going to Heart of God Ministries website at

    Also, please feel free to check out my blog at

  13. Hey Jason, i’m stoked because you are stoked! I remember Don Davis and i looking at your excellent web site awhile back. Your expertise in missionary training would certainly be a great addition to our quest to help mobilize the simple church movement to the UPGs.

    Will you be able to join us at for the H2H labor day conference for the missions track? If so, please ensure you stay for the post-conference missions roundtable brainstorm session…

  14. RELATIONAL-Linguistics : Missionary Training Institute Colorado Springs, CO( Practice in Language Acquestion Training by Dwight L. Gradin Copyright 2006 MIT offers this in a 2 week format.
    This is a training to learn language from the local people. It promotes BONDing with the locals not academic acquisition. It was put together by the language pros-An SIL returnee.
    My wife and I were able to use it effectively with a language group in which there is no language school. Many or most of the remaining UPG’s have languages with no language school. The aspect of slowing down the entering Cross-Cultural worker to engage at the pace of language Acquisition and bonding before you starting you detailed strategy is wise. This can be learned and practiced with any language speaker of any language you dont know in which there is a community to engage the language and people. That can happen while eating and sleeping here in the US. Once you get the methedology you can use it with any language. This type of language Acquisition fits SC/HC church planting teams in training. Start here and go with some skills, the stress is less. The relationship aspects cannot be over emphisised, the purpose of language acquisition is relationship; Hearing-listening before speaking. Entering as a learner who depends on the local even the non believer is a good beginning place. This type of language learning sets the stage for this type of relatinship and attitudes. This can be fun and flexible.

  15. not only does Larry’s form of learning sound interesting, from a relational standpoint, it also sounds FUN. I like the concept: go to a people group and first learn from them (receive) before we move into a position to teach (give). It certainly would establish a great groundwork of trust and confidence on both sides of the relationship.

  16. Larry – how similar or what are the differences between PILAT and the LAMP (Language Acquisition Made Practical) method written by the Brewsters?

  17. Don,
    The PILAT is so much more in-depth yet it is language learning in normal usage patterns and relational. The circuit of people you practice with is a part of PilAT just like LAMP but this one is simple for us simple folks, step one, step two. The Brewsters are so good with Bonding and how language learning is actually ministry but for me I had difficulity staying on task and reaching the higher levels. Chad this is fun!!! As a substitute teacher in our ghetto of a high school system I had 100% participation and the students said this is fun can you come and be the full time teacher. An 8th grade class in 45 minutes learned over 20 words and how to appropately to use themin context. I can get off on this subject because I strugglet so much with language until I found this approach. It was my 7th year and I had plateaued and was getting hopeless.
    Imagine your self seated in a circle of Native language speakers and a couple of teammates. In the middle is a river drawn in one corner of a poster sized paper which has been folded so you have four or even six equal sections. Each of the sections has a location, on 3×5 cards you have six different means of transportation, other 3×5 cards with six people different people(father ,mother son,daughter). You the learner drive the learning ,you put walk transportation 3×5 card,and with mother3x5 card on the river. The language helper says “the mother walked to river” in the local language, then the next local speaker says “the mother walked to the river” and so on until you or a team member says “the mother walked to the river” then the locals repeat it until you say it to their acceptance. Then all the locals say it and a different team mate tries until the locals accept it. You do this until everyone is saying it with ease. Then you put the son 3×5 card with the walk3x5 card on the river and the locals say “the son walked to the river” and the process starts over. Get the idea. This was morning study for us, then in the afternoon we walk our circuit of friends we have made saying what I learned in the morning and they correct me and I hear them say it. I did this on my verenda, I did it under trees, in the market, everywhere people loved becoming language helpers. I did not have to pay them either. We are getting ready to use this for Spanish learning for a trip in November, just to get a start in the language and to teach the method to our mentorees. The minor dialect of AF Maa Maa in Solmalia will be our next language to really try to learn fluently. We work with these speakers here in San Antonio. I am not good with language acquisition but if my hearing was better I think I could learn any language if I lived among the native speakers.

  18. I can tell you that, while my approach was certainly more stumble and bumble than systematic, there is nothing like living with indiginous speakers to pick up a language. When I lived in Argentina/Chile for 3 months, I was GREATLY able to increase my Spanish proficiency due to the fact that my two roommates did not speak English, and we had to work contextually to communicate. Fortunately I had Spanish training going in, but I would say I picked up in a month what would have taken years by traditional schooling methods of learning.

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