As we begin to dialogue regarding simple churches doing missions, I would like to share a few things to lay a foundation for our discussions in the future. Recently at the 2008 National House Church Conference we held three sessions of the Missions Track. In our first session we discussed some foundation issues. Here is a summary of those sessions:
Session One: Why are Simple Churches suited for pioneer missions amongst the unreached and why is this the time?
We start with the assumption that simple churches as best suited for pioneer, frontier missions (the unreached) therefore now is the time to do it!
First, let me lay some foundation:
- House/Simple/Organic Church: It is not about the gathering but our understanding of being the Church: relational, organic, and simple.
- Unreached/Least Reached People Groups: A people group within which there is no viable indigenous church movement with sufficient strength, resources, and commitment to sustain and ensure the continuous multiplication of churches. To reach them is pioneer/frontier missions.
- The world’s 6.3 billion people are made up of 11,259 people groups. 55% of them are unreached! (source: IMB) Note the chart below representing numbers of people groups, not individual populations. In regards to population less than 1/3 of the world’s population is unreached.
o How many unreached people groups exist? There are 11,259 people groups in the world today. 4,729 are reached. 6530 of these people groups are unreached. (Source: IMB). These unreached groups have no viable, self reproducing indigenous church able to reach their own population.
o Where do these unreached peoples live? 97% of all unreached peoples live in what is referred to as the 10/40 window. 82% of the poorest of the poor live in this region,
- Where do we (the Church) use our resources? Christians give $15 Billion a year to missions. How is that $15 billion distributed? (Source: David Barrett & Todd Johnson. 2000)
- Where do we send Missionaries? According to Mission Frontiers Magazine (June, 2000) we see that most missionaries are going to the Christian world.
Cross-cultural Missionaries per Million in major blocks:
- Strategic Missions: Strategic missions is when the Church is following the biblical mandate that is summarized in these two verses:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (ethnic groups), and then the end will come.”
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . .”
- Closure: Closure is finishing the task. What will happen?
- All nations will hear to the point that the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to the entire world as a testimony in all nations (ethne) and then the end will come.
- The Bride makes herself ready. This is referring to the prophetic promise in Revelation 7:9-10 where we discover that great multitude consisting of all nations (ethne), tribes (phule), people (laos), and languages (glossa) standing before the throne in front of the Lamb.
- What makes simple church the best tool in God’s hand to finish the task? In our recent discussion in Dallas at the National House Church Conference Missions track we came up with the following reasons during a brainstorming session:
- Less baggage – not bound to traditional, denominational, institutional models
- Able to move and respond faster.
- Understands Simple Church life – since the churches planted in unreached areas are simple house churches who better to plant these churches than those who are already doing it?
- More Appealing to Post-Modern and post-church cultures.
- No Denominational administration – free of sterile policies and procedure, but organic.
- Apostolic (DNA) – Workers sent with a message.
- Makes Disciples rather than plants churches – When we make disciples, church happens.
- Financial Ability and Flexibility
- Realistic Accountability – relational not policy driven
- No Overhead
- Kingdom focused – not organization focused. Not “planting any flags” for a denomination or Missions organization. Plus the message is focused on the gospel of the Kingdom, and not a theological grid.
- No Bottlenecks – Able to be more spontaneous and able to respond to God’s provenience.
- Relational like other cultures
- Reproducible – church is simple, and able to be done by anyone regardless of the amount of education. No seminary experts, big budgets, real estate deals needed.
- Economical – less money is needed.
- Open to Creative ideas
- Team driven
- No Clergy
- Indigenous believers are empowered and released in their callings and giftings
- We can Speed the Coming of the Lord! In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we read:
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. . .”
As the Lord fulfills Matthew 24:14 with us in partnership with Him, we speed the coming of the Lord!
This session ended with a testimony and discussion regarding doing missions locally and reaching unreached Muslim populations in the United States.
Session Two and Three: How Simple Churches can do Missions.
This session was mostly interactive starting with a brainstorming session talking about:
1. What do simple churches need to do in order to reach the unreached nations?
2. How do we accomplish these things?
Here is a chart illustrating the results of this brainstorming session (each item does not necessarily correspond directly to the opposite item in the column):
|What We Need to Do:||How we can Accomplish these things:|
We then heard several testimonies first from a missionary couple planning to go to Asia and their challenges in regards to securing a support network in a simple church network setting. We also heard more about a network of simple churches regarding how they were reaching the Muslim community in their city.
The discussion carried over to the next day as we discussed the following process and how simple churches can develop into a missions movement reaching the unreached.
Steps Towards A Mature Missions Movement in the Apostolic Simple/House Church Network
|Phase I. Training|
|1. Provide training and learning experiences. Contact House2Harvest Network for more information.|
|2. Begin to develop Strategic Components of an Acts 1:8 Church in your simple church and/or network.||a. Prayer|
|b. The Lord raises up a champion for the cause of reaching the unreached and fulfilling the desire to be an Acts 1:8 church.|
|c. Clear written strategic guidelines|
|d. Adopt a Least/Unreached People Group|
|e. Giving Plan, Funding Plan|
|f. Short-Term Trips|
|g. Events focused on serving the nations.|
|h. Begin Servants to the Nations Preparation|
|3. Develop Local Cross-Cultural Ministry/Outreach.|
|4. House Church network sponsors further training, coaching and consulting in understanding missions. This can be provided by ministries such as House2Harvest Network.|
|5. Key Leaders attend World Christian Perspectives Course offered through the U.S. Center for World Missions|
|6. Constant reading of missions books and articles.|
|7. Finish the development of the Strategic Components of an Acts 1:8 Church (see #2)|
|8. Identify Servants to the nations in your House Church Network.|
|Develop a plan to reach the UPG|
|1. Identify other churches and networks that are targeting your adopted UPG.|
|2. Develop a preliminary budget – measure your potential financial resources.|
|3. Partner with other churches and organizations in the USA||a. Conduct or attend a UPG consultation|
|b. Coordinate prayer efforts and information|
|c. Assess organizational capacity of partnering churches|
|d. Determine level in which churches can partner|
|e. Formalize partnerships and networks|
|4. Identify National Churches that are potential partners|
|5. Partner with key leaders in national churches|
|6. Conduct a short-term research trip in a region where the UPG lives.|
|7. Write out your plan to reach the UPG based on your research etc.|
|Phase III: Team, Partnership and Networking|
|1. Develop a support mechanism for cross-cultural servants to the nations.|
|2. Identify servants to the nations and missions organizations already targeting the UPG.|
|3. Train Your Servants to the nations.|
|4. Develop potential Apostolic teams (if this is part of your plan.)|
|5. Identify strategic locations and partners working among the UPG.|
|6. Get to know the Apostolic/CP teams you are going to support, partner and network with.|
|7. Revise your missions policy statement if needed.|
|8. Begin to develop your cross-cultural disciple making strategy.|
|9. Evaluate the readiness of the apostolic team and/or servant to the nations you are sending|
|10. Conduct a Pre-Field Orientation and then place the teams among the UPG|
|Phase IV: Making Disciples|
|1. Apostolic Team finishes pre-field Orientation.|
|2. Apostolic Team does (and/or finishes) Language and Culture Study|
|3. Disciple Making Movement Strategy Formation||a. Training|
|b. Development of a plan|
|4. Strategy Implementation begun||a. Resources Mobilized|
|b. Team is implementing strategy|
|5. Initial converts discipled|
|6. Disciple Making Movement oriented church(es) planted||a. First church planted|
|b. Second generation of churches launched.|
|7. Churches reproducing spontaneously (3rd and 4th generations)|
|8. Saturation church planting underway|
|9. Celebration! UPG Reached – Other UPG’s Targeted by churches planted.|
Missions Movement is Underway!
(You can download this chart here:steps-towards-a-mature-missions-movement-in-the-apostolic-house-church-network1
This brings us to where we are now in this process, and your involvement in the dialogue. This blog site is designed to facilitate the networking of simple churches to accomplish their desire to be the church where people live, taking the gospel to the nations in your neighborhood, your nation, and to other cultures.
The “TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION” listed to the right at the top of the House2Harvest Mission Weblog is where you can go to discuss specific topics and learn, network and discover from one another so that we can reach the nations together!
I am looking forward to hearing what the Lord is saying through you.