CPx: Movements To Jesus, addendum
My last CPx post dealt with what we as missionaries to Africa are hoping to see — vast movements of people coming to Christ. I wrote quite a lot about the broad notion of “church” driving these movements but didn’t deal much with our place in regards to them. It’s an important topic though and one that needs discussing. What we as outsiders do can seriously hinder or empower the people directly touched by the movements.
In more traditional models of mission, the work done typically revolves around the missionary. They are there running the schools, staffing the hospitals, pastoring the churches, or powering other access ministries legitimizing entry into a place. And this isn’t necessarily bad — sometimes this very well may be what needs to happen. It’s not the case though for the movements to Jesus we are hoping to see. They are a completely different animal, and as I started saying, are hindered if the missionary (by nature an outsider to the context of the movement) becomes a focal point.
Instead, our role as church planter becomes that of a catalyst. We most often think of catalysts in terms of chemical reactions. Catalysts are enzymes or similar compounds that are not actually a physical part of the chemical reaction — they are not used up or changed in the reaction; instead, they initiate reactions and help to speed them up. At some point in the reaction, they often become unnecessary and when all is said and done — they finish in the same state they began.
This describes what we are to do as a church planter exactly. We are there to initiate and help speed up the reaction. We do this by finding people of peace that open their networks — friends and family and any other social groups they might be involved with — to the Gospel. The people of peace, not the the church planter, then gathers. They become the facilitators, not us. At no point in the process does anything ever revolve around us; the idea is that if we were for what ever reason unable to go into the area again, the groups would continue because all along in the process, they were empowered to lead themselves and not rely on us.
This isn’t to say we have no place in leadership or discipleship in these movements. Rather we carry an important role: it is we who disciple those initial people of peace. Everything we’ve been trained in — glorifying God, loving one another, and seeking those that are lost — we pass on to those initial people of peace (as well as the basics in simple church facilitation). And we continue to meet with them and stay in relationship with them, often for years, until there truly is no further need of an outsider. But they should quickly carry the mantel of discipling others who disciple others who disciple others. And here is were our job for many becomes difficult: it necessitates a background role. As it works, we should only be “known” by that first generation. As successive generations are produced, our place in the picture fades (and quite rapidly sometimes).
Anyways, this is an important addendum to what I wrote in the last post. It’s important that we see our place clearly and know that, as an outsider, we can never be leaders in these movements to Christ. Instead we raise up leaders on the inside. We do have important roles but being the man on top isn’t one of them (and won’t ever be).