I often hear ambitious plans put together by well meaning church planting theorist that show how to plant a church and train nationals in a short period of time. Skepticism is the nicest word I can think of to describe my opinion of these plans. (And believe me, there are many other words I think of besides skepticism!)
After just six years working as a church planter in Chile, South America, I do not consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination. At best, I’m a practitioner and a student of church planting.
One of the principle lessons I learned during my first term on the mission field is that a large scale impact requires a long term commitment.
Think about the missionary heroes of the past few centuries. How many years did they serve on their field? The answer for most is several decades! Few ‘one term wonders’ have ever reached the lofty goals they so carefully printed on their prayer cards – evangelize a country (really?!?, a country in one term!?!), plant churches (notice it’s always in the plural form), and train national pastors (again in the plural form).
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not trying to be sarcastic or mean-spirited in the post. Hopefully, I can encourage guys to stay several decades in a country working towards the goal, to stick it out, and to think long-term about their task! Most missionaries never make it to their second term! That means, most lofty goals presented on the deputation trail, are never reached!
As I stated in my last post, patience is essential to success on the mission field. Similarly, a large scale impact will require diligent, consistent work over the long haul to reach the goal. Church planting movements do not grow from infancy to maturity in a couple of years!
Read more about church planting missions at bcwe.org