The Three Characteristics of the Indigenous Church

The indigenous church is not mentioned in the New Testament. It is, however, obvious in the sense that the church took root and grew naturally. In the New Testament we see no outside involvement and help. Paul and others were planting churches but they did not stay long enough for the people to become dependent. The one time that Paul does stay too long he apologizes because he has caused them to be an inferior church. In staying he had worked another job, making tents, without having them pay his salary. They had a church that cost them nothing. That meant Paul wasn’t burdensome (didn’t cost them anything) and this caused them to be inferior. It is expected that a pastor who is so valuable to the church and ministry would be costly!

2 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong.”

Paul had worked among these people and not been a burden to them. He had not charged them anything including a salary. They were the people who least respected him. They took advantage of him. That would be the biblical basis for this study.
Here are some of the proponents of the “indigenous principle” that should help you to learn the necessity of achieving the indigenous principle. You can learn from the mistakes of others and from their wisdom.

Henry Venn (Anglican) and Rufus Anderson (Congregationalist) developed a strategy of indigenization in response to the extreme paternalism that had been exercised by western missionaries in the 19th century. It was obvious to them that “rice” Christians were only loyal as long as they received the free food. The missionary acted as a parent and expected complete authority and control.
Dixon Hoste who followed Hudson Taylor as director of the China Inland Mission is credited with making the Chinese churches apply the principles of self-government, self-support, and self propagation. Melvin Hodges (Assemblies of God) believed that foreign money created dependence and established the paternalistic pattern that created an unhealthy, anemic church.

Consider with me, each of the three principles and how they are applied. We will get into much more depth in the following chapters of how to apply these principles. This will simply be a stating of the principles and how they are to work.

First, the church is to be “self-governing!” That means that the church will develop leadership from within as the Holy Spirit works among those that He has saved as in Acts 13:1-3. The missionary or church planter ceases to be the leader. The national leaders are trained and the missionary is phased out. The church has learned to make its own decisions.

This can be seen biblically in how Paul trained and appointed leaders in Acts 14:21-23. Paul told the church to govern itself in the discipline of a member in I Corinthians 5:45. In Acts 6 the congregation and the apostles picked their first leaders, probably deacons.


Second, the church is to be “self-supporting!” That means that the church does not subsist on outside or foreign money. Each church should be able to meet its own needs. From the beginning God’s people gave sacrificially to support their church and its ministry, Acts 4:32-37, 6:1-3. The Philippians supported Paul as a missionary, Philippians 4:10. If a church cannot pay its own way and must depend on outside supply then we will greatly hinder them, damage relations between us, and hinder the starting of future churches.

Third, the church is to be “self-propagating!” Self-propagating means that the church will extend its own ministry in its region and beyond without external help. If we are to evangelize the world in our generation then we will have to start churches that are able to start churches. There is simply no way that we can raise up enough missionaries to start all the churches. In 2 Timothy 2:2 we find, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” As those who hear find others that they can train we will be able to accomplish the task that we have been given.

Disciples must disciple. That is how we will get the gospel around the world. As go the disciples so will go the church. If you have a discipling church it will be a reproducing church. The discipling church will plant other churches.

This is actually a picture of my brother in law’s greenhouses, Blossom and Bloom

The Greenhouse Principle

The discussion of the indigenous church is a heated one among missionaries that have to live out its principles on the actual field. They are very animated about the pros and the cons. They tire quickly of the ivory tower specialist that has never had the privilege of starting a church in a hostile environment. They love the new believers. They feel great responsibility for them. They hurt when they hurt and are happy when they are happy. They literally do feel like these people are their spiritual children.

I do not want to hinder your work. I want to enhance it. I do not want to frustrate you but to help you understand just how to achieve this indigenous principle. You know that it is necessary. There is no way that you can deny the reality that one day they will have to manage church life on their own.

Yet you cannot abandon them or leave them to flounder. You hurt for them. It is not a selfish feeling it is really love. I believe that what I want to share with you in this chapter is a balanced view of what you will try to accomplish. It can work. You can achieve the indigenous principle while still helping them as they grow.

Plants that are indigenous may get their start in a greenhouse. The greenhouse provides an artificial climate and the care of an expert to get the seed or small seedling to grow. Everything is managed by another. The seed or seedling is not left to itself.

Kudzu took naturally to the climate of the Southeast United States. Other plants that are indigenous do so much better when given extra care at the beginning of their life. Tobacco is a plant that is native to the US. Europeans discovered it upon their arrival here. The American Indian was already using tobacco since the time of Christ. However farmers use tobacco beds to help the seedling grow quicker and better for their crops.

I am not advocating the use of tobacco. I just want you to see that a plant that is native or indigenous does receive help to gain more success in the crops. The seeds are planted. They are covered with a cloth to keep the frost from harming them. When they reach a certain point of maturity they are taken from the tobacco bed and placed in the field where they will be cultivated.

The same is true for the tomato plant. They are indigenous. They grow fine but to achieve more growth and production they too are raised in a seedling bed. They are covered as you see in the picture to keep them warm and protect them from the cold and frost. They are then planted where they will be able to produce.

Could you consider this principle with me as a church planter? You will go to a foreign land. The land may be hostile to the gospel and the church at the beginning. I challenge you to start the church on what you know from the Bible. You cannot simply win some to Christ, hand them a Bible, and hope that they figure out what to do.

In the beginning you will have full control. You will tell them what a church service looks like. You will teach them how to read the Bible. You will teach them what it means to preach. You will disciple them. You cannot allow them to develop a church along the lines of their culture. They do not understand enough about church to work that way.

You will have a great deal of influence. This places a great deal of responsibility on your shoulders. You are not there to spread American culture. You are not there to make Americans out of them but to teach them the Bible and let God develop His church among them.

That means that you will have to principally teach them the Bible. You will need to teach them what it actually says and not what your culture taught you that it said. You will have to be very honest with yourself and see what you believe and practice that might be cultural and that you cannot support from the Bible. Teach them the Bible. Let them be themselves. Change only what the Bible clearly teaches that needs to be changed.

They do not need American church buildings, American church schedules, American culture in any way. We are citizens of another country. We have another constitution and it is God’s Word. The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice will have to become a reality for you and not just a cliché.

In the greenhouse you will, in the beginning, have all the control. You will decide how a service looks. You will show them how to baptize. You will show them what preaching looks like. But every day you should have in mind that you will back off just a little. In the beginning you have full control and they have none. Over the next several months or years you will relinquish control and they will assume control. You will go from 100% control to 0%. They will go from 0% to 100% control.
You must be very careful. If you take them out of the greenhouse to quick they will die. If you leave them to long they will be dependent. It is a hard line to walk and understand. You must remember that you will be tempted to keep control too long. You will want to protect them too much. A little is good and too much will be worse than none at all.


Raising Children

Planting churches has a lot in common with raising children. No one would expect for you to give birth and abandon your children. Everyone would be outraged if they saw you do such a thing. Children need time, tender care, training, and teaching. Yes, they need to become independent but that comes in due time. No more than you would give birth and abandon your child should you win souls, plant a church, and leave.

Again, in the beginning the child makes no decisions, cannot govern itself, cannot support itself, and cannot reproduce. But that will all come with time. In the beginning the only thing the child does is demand. They demand to eat and to be changed. They demand to be loved and held. They can’t talk. They can’t care for themselves in any way. They can’t prepare their own food. They can’t protect themselves.

So what do we do to help our children. We take complete charge. We do not ask them if they want to live at our house. They do not choose their food, their clothes, their activities, we do as parents. We do not ask them if they like the vitamins or the medicine that they need to take. We do not ask them if they want to take baths, brush their teeth, take a nap, etc. We decide and we command. We do not allow them to decide how to study and educate themselves. We do not allow them to decide what model of family they want or activities.

They will decide these things later in life just not now. We would be pitiful parents if we allowed them to make decisions too soon. We would be negligent. We would actually be criminals charged with child abuse if we didn’t ensure that our children ate correctly, were bathed, educated, cared for medically, etc.

As they grow we give them more and more freedom. We give them more and more choices. They decide what to wear. They dress themselves. They take over many of the decisions that we were making for them. They are reaching maturity. We know as parents that we need to have them to a place in their lives that they can support themselves and govern themselves by 18 to 22 years of age. Soon after that they will reproduce. That is life.

Can you think of a church like that? Can you imagine teaching and training them so that every day they took on more responsibility? Do you realize how much you harm your children when you give them too much and do not make them work for it? Spoiled children do not make good, responsible adults. Churches that have been spoiled will not make good, responsible, indigenous churches either.

So again you have the same diagram, controls relationship to responsibility. So as Control diminishes Responsibility increases.

I would love to hear your comments. I will refine what i think if you simply let me know where I am failing to make a clear decision or thought process. If you like it, comment. If you do not like it, comment! I would love to hear from you!

  • Posted September 12, 2014 8:27 pm
    by Kenneth

    Good Stuff!!!

  • Posted September 12, 2014 11:48 pm
    by Chad Phillips

    Hey Bro. Gardner,

    Thank you for addressing this important subject. I would like your perspective on an issue that we face in Cambodia.

    In Phnom Penh, we are facing a problem that is directly related to the indigenous principle. Basically, because of the average salary of most Cambodians who live in the city (around $100 per month), and because of the disproportional rent costs for a building that is big enough to be used as a church, in order for a church to pay the rent completely on its own without foreign aid requires more people in the church than the building can hold. For example, to have a building that can seat 20 people- which would cost around $400 to $600 per month in rent, you would need 40 to 60 tithing families tithing at $10.00 per month. Let’s say the average family has 4 people. That’s 160 people, including children. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that Cambodian churches, for the most part, tend to be small. That’s not to say that God couldn’t give a church 160 members. But based on the experience of some wonderful missionaries who have been serving in Cambodia for the past 15 to 20 years, the churches usually cap off at around 50 to 60- and that is considered a large congregation. So, there are two difficulties. First is getting enough people together so that the sum of their tithes is enough to pay their rent. Second is that when you do get enough people to pay the rent, it’s time to start looking for a bigger place- which will cost more money, which will require more people, which will require a bigger place, which will require more money, which will require more people, which will require a bigger place, and so on. How can the indigenous principle be achieved here? In our situation, I am getting ready to turn the church over to Pastor Proh, because my being with him indefinitely will surely prove to be a hindrance to his development as a pastor. He’s ready. He doesn’t need me anymore. But he does need a place for the church to meet, and his house won’t cut it, nor will any of our members’ houses. They need a definite meeting place. The place we are currently renting is ideal, but the rent cost is completely out of reach for our people. My plan, which we have discussed before, is to continue renting the building for the church until they have enough money to purchase their own property, which will probably require love offerings from outside churches. I understand that God could do a miracle, and I believe that He could do that if He chooses. But He may choose to allow our church and other Christians outside the church to be involved in giving sacrificially and learning to trust God to provide for their needs. So, to wrap this up, I think the solution to the problem that I described is for the church to acquire its own land and build its own building in order to eliminate the need to pay a rent payment it can’t afford. But to get to that point will require some temporary outside help. My question is, do you think I’m on the right track here?

    • Posted September 13, 2014 11:18 am
      by Austin Gardner

      I totally understand your problem. I think most of the missionaries do also. In the USA we are able to get loans for our churches. Even with all of that we have been in a rented space for nearly 9 years and are looking at 2 more years probably. We have purchased the land. It is paid for. We will save up 3 or 4 hundred thousand dollars and then go get a loan. The loan will probably be for at least 15 years. The churches in most of our countries do not have that privilege or opportunity.

      It was my personal thoughts in Peru that if I could get them a piece of property and a rough building that over the years they could build, improve, and grow. I then taught them to give 10% of their offerings to help other churches. It is never much in the grand scheme things of but it is for them and it makes a big difference.

      Our first church in Peru had several different bags, bolsas! The banks charged so much that we kept the money in different homes. We had the tithes and offerings that maintained our church and ministry. We had another bag for faith promise missions. We had another bag for construction and improvements that people could give a special offering to. Then we had what I called new works, nuevas obras! In that bag or account we put 10% of all undesignated offerings. It was like our building payment. We helped many churches financially with that offering. We bought benches, paid for roofs, floors, lights, water installation or whatever other churches needed. The more churches that start doing that the more funds are available to help others.

      I felt like if I could help them get a building then they could learn to take care of maintenance, utilities, ministry and their pastor’s salary. I always wanted them to give 50% of the undesignated offering to the pastor until it got to be a good salary. One that could really take care of his family.

      I personally believe that God’s people that have been blessed with so much more can help their brothers and sisters who have so little. I am not at all embarrassed to ask churches and individuals to give to help others have a church building.

      Several of our missionary friends have seem God provide large sums of money to help. It will not hinder them if you teach them correctly how to be responsible for their church. The nationals and pastors can only rise as high as you expect them to rise and teach them to do and be.

      I believe that leaving a pastor without the basic tools to do his ministry will be setting him up for failure.

      I would really appreciate others commenting, questioning, and even challenging me to think through this more.

  • Posted September 12, 2014 11:52 pm
    by Chad Phillips

    Although we have already discussed this issue, I thought it would be a beneficial addition to the discussion for the sake of other missionaries who may be experiencing similar issues. I would also like to know if you have any additional thoughts that you haven’t yet had an opportunity to share.

    • Posted September 13, 2014 11:04 am
      by Austin Gardner

      well I want to discuss it with you and hope other missionaries, pastors, and church people will join the discussion. Several more posts are going to come out on this subject. Invite others to join us in our discussion.

  • Posted September 13, 2014 11:37 am
    by Jonathan Anderson

    As I was reading the post from Chad (by the way great to hear from you brother) I can’t help but to think that we as missionaries should always think about the future of the church we are starting. Our church is already paying the rent, but I know that in 10 years they will still be paying the rent if they don’t have a vision to own their own building. I’m excited about the fact that they are giving and paying for the rent because that tells me that they will most likely be able to support their own pastor in the future. I would rather put money into the ministry NOW and help them buy a building so that in the future it can pey it’s pastor and give more to missions and starting other works… We just got started as a church in saving up for a future place for the church and they are excited!

    • Posted September 13, 2014 11:46 am
      by Austin Gardner

      Jonathan, thanks for responding. I have really enjoyed the new format where we are discussing what is going on. I think also as we talk from different parts of the world it will help all of us to learn more and get new perspectives and ideas. I am so glad that your church is already able to pay the rent.

      I challenge you and all that read this to remember that without the worker there will be no work. Some missionaries focus on getting a building that we remain empty. They get people but no leader. That means the church always relies on them. I know that none of you have that in mind but just saying that this has happened so many times.

      I would rather my people learn to pay their pastor than have a building. 10 giving families should be enough to at least get the pastor to be able to survive like the church families are surviving.

      Remember all that the standard of living in different countries is so different. When I arrived in Peru the minimum wage was $25 to $30 a month. Many did not even make that much. There was great unemployment and under employment. Things are much better today.

      But If in Cambodia the families are living on $100 or so then getting their rent paid is going to be difficult.

      In Peru, back in the day, many families lived in the family home. So a child would grow up, get married, add a room on, help pay expenses but all live there. It was hard to get out and get another home or place to live. Rent was very high so most lived with family.

      That should help us understand that if we are able to help them get a building then we might be able to help them get where they can take care of their ministry.

      I love the discussion. Bring it on!

  • Posted September 13, 2014 11:46 am
    by Chad Phillips

    Thank you, Bro. Gardner. So it seems like an appropriate plan in our situation would be to stay financially involved with this church until they can have a place to call their own. I would like to see a discussion of some more practical ways to prepare the church, and other churches like ours, for the transition. I have already taken note of the importance of teaching the church to be givers- giving 10% to help other ministries. Are there other areas in which they need to be taught and prepared in order for them to achieve the indigenous principle?

    Another question in regards to the missionary transitioning himself out of leadership. Is it best to make it a swift transition, or a more gradual transition? I suppose it depends on the national pastor, right? Any thoughts? If you don’t see a reply from me for a few hours, it’s because I’ve already hit the hay over here.

    • Posted September 13, 2014 11:56 am
      by Austin Gardner

      I would stay financially involved with that church, for sure. I would help them get a place of their own. As for discussion of how to do the transition, did you read Jason Holt’s comment on the first indigenous post. He gave a good explanation of what he has done.

      I will try and get some feed back from others about your questions. I will also give some opinions.

      By the way, I didn’t have my people give away funds to other ministries to start their churches until they had their own piece of property. My first concern has always been, the pastor’s salary, then the utilities, the ministry expenses, etc, and of course rent or the building.

      I believe if you allow them to make decisions about things the way they like them it helps also. I never chose paint colors and we definitely had different tastes.

      I had a monthly men’s meeting and went over the finances and what was happening in the church. All had access to our budget and how the money was handled and spent. We voted in the men’s meeting about how we would do different things.

      I always had two people count the offering and sign a slip of paper and the ledger.

      I allowed our men to learn how to make decisions and then slowly let them make more and more.

      I am for a very gradual transition so that the people know that I am truly behind all that is going on.

      I continued to have weekly meetings with all pastors and help them with decisions. I had a monthly pastor’s fellowship, an annual pastor’s camp where they could bring their family at our expense and we could relax together, study, pray, preach, etc. Years later I started an annual pastor’s school as there were so many that we were working with.

      Don’t worry about grabbing sleep. The Jet Lag still hits me every now and then and probably more the Old Age lag. So get some sleep and help us all think through how we can better serve the Lord and our people.

  • Posted September 13, 2014 12:09 pm
    by Kevin Hall

    Great article! Paul had very strong words for the Corinthians, when he said, “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” That’s a pretty big smack in the face to a local church not taking care of its own responsibilities.

    Our churches all struggle. We have helped them get buildings for two reasons: 1. I hate dealing with landlords – there are always stories, baggage and problems. 2. It’s a huge obstacle for the longevity of the church where most people are unemployed.

    At the first church I encouraged them to give and gave with them and then churches in the states gave with us (most of it) and then we worked together to fix the building – now its theirs. They clean it, and pay the bills. I don’t think it has hurt them. They gave and some really sacrificed even though it would have taken eternity for their giving to reach the total. The ones that sacrificed are really thankful some could care less.

    We’ve had problems though – once they have a building they have to pay the bills – water, electricity. One of our churches wasn’t paying its bills properly and had a huge fine. It’s fixed now but just one of those things we had to deal with.

    One of my main questions would be – what kind of mission projects would you advise for poorer churches? We use to support a foreign missionary through me at Macedonia. But it really is not practical and wouldn’t continue without me. Right now I have them support new church plants, but I know they need to give to foreign missions. What would you recommend?

    • Posted September 13, 2014 12:38 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      Thanks Kevin for reading and commenting. I believe that your experience will be very valuable for others.

      Churches definitely have to be taught to be responsible and it can take a long time. That is why I compare it to raising children or the greenhouse in the article. But the time invested is worth it in the long run. I believe that if we invest the time we can see God leave a church that will continue for many years.

      I agree on helping the church get its own permanent location. I understand because of the 1990s in Peru how the unemployment definitely hinders things.

      I am excited about what God did in your first church and hope that can motivate and challenge others to do the something similar.

      Getting them to pay their bills and not get in trouble has always been a problem. But then we are raising them and training them up as our spiritual children.

      I never liked the idea of supporting an American. I preferred our churches to give to other Peruvians and ministries in Peru. When some Peruvians left the country then it was normal to help them. I believe you should find one of the new churches, new pastors and have the older churches support them, personally!

      An American can get money somewhere else. The Africans need each other and it helps build family and community

  • Posted September 13, 2014 12:35 pm
    by Jason Holt

    It’s a huge challenge to know when and where to rent OR how to buy and build!

    In Santiago, Chile we would easily pay 5-6K a month for a building similar to Vision Baptist in Alpharetta. There’s no way I could pay that or the people! So, in our case we have to be creative and flexible.

    The average Baptist church in Chile runs about 40-50 people. We would like to see our churches grow to at least 75 people (which is probably the minimum threshold for reaching financial autonomy with a full-time pastor).

    With that in mind, we look for a place where we can handle 70-80 people (40-50 adults; 20-30 children). In Chile, we can accomplish that with a 800-1000 square foot house (roughly 80-100 sq. meters)! We’ll probably knock down an interior wall or two, squeeze in about 50 chairs in the main room, and use a couple of the bedrooms or covered patio areas for Sunday school rooms and a nursery. If more than 70-80 start coming, you can always add extra services or look for a larger place.

    By the way, we can rent a 800-1000 sq. ft. house for about $500 a month in the lower/middle class areas of Santiago.

    Main point: be creative and don’t think like an American 🙂

    Pastor Gardner, what do you think about this approach? Could this method be adopted in other countries? What’s the minimum size you would rent on the field? Thanks!

    • Posted September 13, 2014 12:44 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      The building we rent in Alpharetta does cost us over $5,000 a month and we are responsible for all maintenance which has meant replacing AC units, adding units, etc. The only thing the owner fixes is the roof. We will easily put $50,000 in AC units before we leave this building.

      I always looked for a place that could hold 40 chairs for the older teens through adults. I rented garages, living rooms, houses, built shanty type meeting places in the yard, or whatever I had to do. We often met on dirt floors and under grass mat roofs.

      They will not be able to do that in Europe but it worked in Peru in those days and in the poorer areas. I believe that the church building should reflect the neighborhood.

      I love your point, Main point: be creative and don’t think like an American 🙂

      In some of the creative access countries they may have even smaller meeting places.

      I hope the guys in China will respond to some of this because they are renting and Mark just found a new place for both churches.

      Thanks for all your help with the comments. I hope they will bless and help others. I know that it is helping me!

  • Posted September 13, 2014 1:53 pm
    by Robert Canfield

    This is great stuff. Thanks for writing this.

  • Posted September 13, 2014 3:06 pm
    by Trent Cornwell

    Excellent material! I do hope pastors in America will think through these truths as well, not only missionaries. Thank you for being a pastor that things like a missionary should think.

    • Posted September 13, 2014 9:52 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      Thank you so much for all you do to make our church a real sender church. God bless you.

  • Posted September 14, 2014 8:03 am
    by Jim Roberts

    This is super helpful, especially since i am thinking through these issues in preperation of starting a church next year. Thanks for raising the question and all the helpful answers.

    • Posted September 14, 2014 2:40 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      I am glad you are here. I hope you all read the articles and the discussion. Also please add your questions and your considerations to the comments. Every one can help others as we work our way though this. I am excited about what God is doing in India.

  • Posted September 14, 2014 9:16 am
    by James Wilson

    Thank you all so much for this content, it has been very helpful, I was actually disappointed when the thread had finished! God bless.

    • Posted September 14, 2014 2:41 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      James, there is much more to come so stay tuned. I also welcome all of your comments and questions. It would be great to hear things from your point of view. God bless you there in Northern Ireland

  • Posted September 15, 2014 2:59 am
    by Jonathan Anderson

    Can’t sleep… Question, what should my expectations be when it comes to supporting the national missionaries that are here in Mexico. Our church already has a good idea of my ministry mindset. Look for faithful men, Train men, start churches. What should we expect as a church when it comes to taking on the nationals. It is pretty hard to find a missionary with our ministry mindset. How low should I lower the bar for the church knowing that it’s hard to find missionaries with the same goals as our church? I think you may say at the beginning the most important thing is that we are giving to missions… ? Thanks for your time and heart that you put into the guys! I also am thinking long term about sending our own guys out… Also, should we support with more money and less missionaries, or with less money and more missionaries?

    • Posted September 17, 2014 10:57 am
      by Austin Gardner

      At the beginning I do think that you have to set the bar far lower. Find the best you can. Start giving. Maybe help one of the Peruvians that are going over seas if that is possible. Find someone doing something that you like, preferably not a gringo. haha. Be sure to set aside a great part of all offerings to take care of your pastor as God reveals who he is going to be.

  • Posted September 15, 2014 12:06 pm
    by Chad Phillips

    This is great. I’m about to copy and paste all of these comments into Evernote.

    Did anyone have any thoughts on whether the transition to national leadership should take place quickly or gradually? I’m speaking of a situation in which it has already been decided that the man is ready. Once that point has been reached, does the missionary just disappear, or is it a gradual separation?

  • Posted September 15, 2014 12:44 pm
    by James Wilson

    I would agree & echo all ideas mentioned in this post, at present our church is close to being able to pay all our bills but as of yet not a full salary for myself. And of course this is mainly down to the rent, which is actually very small for our location.

    People have commented about our church as “the church that moves around a lot” so we need stability. We are starting to pray now about owning our own building. The churches around us all have the advantage of their own building (including the cults). Certainly it would take us an awful long time to achieve this on our own. The Lord really blessed us with our current location so we also see our future in safe hands!

    • Posted September 17, 2014 10:49 am
      by Austin Gardner

      I will pray with you that God give you a piece of property. I know that He is able and will! We are in our 3rd rented space. We have been able to stay in the current one but I fully understand how you feel and how you desire to get a permanent place. I can’t wait for the day that God gives us our place either. Keep up the good work.

  • Posted September 15, 2014 7:25 pm
    by Jonathan Anderson

    Hey Chad, I’m going to copy past what Jason Holt said about the “transition”…

    “Hey Jonathan, I’m excited to hear about how God js blessing the ministry there! Sounds like you are on the right track!

    I would encourage you to think of a transition from the 1st church to the 2nd church as a very, very gradual process. If you start a second church soon, that would force you to miss some of the services at the first church. In those “planned absences” your guys can lead the services and preach. You can see how they do, correct their mistakes, and offer more training.

    I would start with allowing them to serve as ushers, then move them along to serving as assistant Sunday School teachers, then to preaching 3-5 minute messages, then to Sunday school teacher, then to an ‘assistant to the pastor’ position, then to an ‘assistant pastor’ level, then co-pastor, etc. I think you get the idea. Continually give them opportunities to get involved and grow while you constantly teach and train them. Ideally you will have more than one guy in each level at all times.

    As you have a couple of guys who are working up the ladder of experience, I would think about starting another church with one or two of them. During that transition period, you would be serving as lead pastor at both works while your guys lead the day-to-day operations of pastoring the people.

    To be honest, I never resigned from the first church I started. I just keep missing more and more until I quit going! Literally that’s the way it went down. I told the church people that there were too many needs in the younger churches and that Cristian (the Chilean pastor) was doing a great job and would continue to do so. I started missing once a week, then twice a week. Soon after I told them I would be glad to come back for special days or conferences if they invited me back. It was probably a 2 year process. This year, I’ve preached about 6-7 times there.” – Jason Holt

  • Posted September 19, 2014 10:24 pm
    by Douglas Burton

    I am serving in the jungles of PNG (Papua New Guinea) and as I read some of the decisions you all have to make I am telling God, “thank you”for sending me here(funny I questioned His wisdom at first).

    My greatest obstacle is getting our people not to rely on me. Many a missionary in PNG has paid for tin roofs for the people, or built timber buildings instead of using bush materials and our people know this and I have to train them out of the America can afford to pay for this for us…

    I just am convinced that they need to stay sustainable with what resources God has given them and am afraid I would hurt them if started down this road of purchasing things for them.

    I am not against helping at the beginning a little, but whatever I do I know that eventually I need to wean them off the support so I only want to give enough to grow them without harming them later…

  • Posted September 19, 2014 11:54 pm
    by Kevin Page

    Thanks for the words of wisdom. Bro. Austin and those on the field now teaching us not just of struggles but of solutions. Thanks

  • Posted September 23, 2014 3:56 pm
    by Jesse Turpin

    Nice to see the perspective of men at a different stages of church planting in the comments. The discussion is just as valuable.

  • Trackback: Achieving the Indigenous Principle | Lesson #6 | Austin Gardner
  • Posted September 24, 2014 1:08 pm
    by James Allen

    I just started reading these articles today. I read lesson #6 and decided to read the other lessons and comments as well. Man, I am being blessed and encouraged by it all. Thank you Pastor Gardner for sharing your wealth of wisdom with us.

    I love you guys.

    God bless;

    James Allen – Joinville, Brazil

    • Posted September 24, 2014 7:19 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      I hope you will share some of your personal experiences as well. I am sure that God has taught you several things that all could use. Comment, question, share and help all our readers to grow. I want this to be a tool for sharing, loving, helping, and growing servants of the Lord.

  • Posted September 25, 2014 5:23 pm
    by David Velasquez

    It seems that the challenge in Western Europe is the high cost for purchasing a property. The people do, however, make more money. I like what you told me in Friday class last week. You told me to find a solution and believe that a solution is possible. One of my goals is to do research and learn what other churches in Spain have done. I know that several have paid off their properties. The only problem is that they have very small buildings and they don’t feel the pressure to grow. I look forward to discussing these things with you in the next few weeks. I want to get together with you and work out a plan for my next term. What do you say?

  • Posted September 25, 2014 11:16 pm
    by Ben Thomas

    Would you say that some church plants will require the control of the pastor to be relinquished more slowly and another would be fine with the pastor more quickly loosening his grip? If so how do you determine which church is which?

  • Posted September 26, 2014 8:04 am
    by Jason Rishel

    Very good insight into our role with the church. I liked the quote, “You will go from 100% control to 0%. They will go from 0% to 100% control.” It reminds us of the importance of training strong leaders in the church who will be guided by the Bible. I was helped by what you talked about last Friday about the importance of training strong lay leadership in the churches too. Would love a blog post talking more about the importance of lay leadership and how to train them in a new church.

  • Posted September 26, 2014 8:18 am
    by Glen South

    I thought having the church give 10% to other churches was very insightful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2014 10:32 pm
    by Kanon Bloom

    Enjoyed reading the article and comments

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