As you get prepared to go the mission field you will need to understand what you are going to do. Being a church planter can mean so many different things. To some it means going over seas, starting a church, and pastoring it for many years.
This is very counterproductive. The national pastor can do that just as well as you can and for a whole lot less money. He already understands the language and the culture. He lives in the country and it is his home. He is not looking to leave and go back to the USA every 4 years or so. Many missionaries make even more trips than that back to the USA.
Why should a church support you to do the work that any national missionary could do. There has been a great move on in the USA mission’s world to support nationals. Missionaries get quite upset about this suggestion. It is like the churches and these mission’s organizations do not respect the American missionary.
I happen to understand both sides of that equation. This is a genuine question. Why should you get paid to do what a national could do as well for much less money? Wouldn’t it make more sense to support 10 to 50 nationals for what it costs to support you?
These questions make sense to me unless you learn what your job should entail. You are not going to the field to pastor. You are not going to the field to start one church. You are actually not going to the field to be a church planter. You are going to be a leader trainer.
In the process you will win souls, disciple believers, baptize, and plant churches but your real goal should be to train leaders. I believe that we desperately need missionaries who understand what their job should be. That leads us to the following questions.
1.Will you be starting a base or mother church and staying there?
So what do these terms mean. Let’s start with the fact that we will have the goal to plant multiple churches. We will go to the field. We will start several to many churches. This will only be possible if we understand our job and get training for it.
When I refer to the mother church I am not referring to something like the Catholic church or the denominational church that has all memberships and monies sent to and through some central headquarters. I am not talking about the church that controls other churches.
I use the term mother church more like a base church. It is where you will start your work. It is where you will start training men to go out and start other churches. For me, a mother church refers to the fact that this church will be birthing other churches. Lord willing, there will be many churches that will come out of this first church. It will serve as your base for planting churches all across the city, the country and Lord willing, the world.
So the question leads to several that you will need to answer.
-Will I be starting lots of churches over the years?
-Will I start and pastor only one church for all of my missionary career?
-Will I be starting a place to train many men, help them start other churches, and give my life to seeing the nationals pastor and lead the first church and everyone after it?
I refer to the base church as a mother church because it will be birthing many churches. I hope you will plan on being gone from your base church a lot as you help start other churches. I refer to the base church as a model church because you will be showing the men what a church should look like.
I invite you to get all the training you can so that you will be able to plan multiple churches on the field where you are going. I challenge you to remember that they will learn all that they will know from you. That puts lots of pressure on you to be ready to be an example in everything.
2. What types of ministry do you think that you will have to truly say that you are trying to be a missionary to the entire country?
Have you ever consider how bold missionaries are when they say that they are a missionary to a country? No or very few American pastors have ever talked that way. When you say that you are a missionary to the USA you are making a very big statement. What will you do that will really try to impact an entire country?
-Can starting one church be enough to really consider yourself a missionary to an entire country?
-What other ministries will you need to have?
Can I suggest that the only way to reach a country would be to start a movement. You will want to be a man trainer. You will want to teach them how to do the work. Equip them and get them out on the field doing the work. This way you will multiply your work and accomplish so much more.
You have heard the saying, Should I give a man a fish or teach him how to fish? Of course we do not go to give out fish. We are not going to teach them, preach to them, do for them. We are going to help them learn to do for themselves. They will learn to preach, to start churches, and to pastor. That is our goal.
Maybe this means that you will have to consider starting a Bible college, training center, or Bible institute. The most important thing you do on the field is train them to do the work. You will need to do the work because they need to see it happening. Learning theory is never enough. They will do what they see you do more than what you say for them to do.
Begin making your plans now. You will be starting lots of churches. You will be training men to do the same. You will have to have a very strong discipleship program that teaches them to grow and mature. They must become self feeders. They must learn to stand on their own spiritual feet and do the ministry.
3.What sort of discipleship or training do you intend to do?
I fear that many go to the field. They have learned out to preach. They know a little about winning souls. They might can even get people to come to church but they do not know what to do from there.
How do you get people to really understand Bible doctrine? How do you get them to a point that they change from their past, their culture, their traditions to believe the Bible? You will not be working in America where people seem to know without knowing.
What you are about to teach to these people in this foreign country will be very foreign to them. They will not get it. It will not make sense. They will believe it in the context of their own views. You must get the Word of God into them.
They will not believe simply because you tell them to believe. If they do believe what you say without understanding then it will not last. Remember we are not going to get a group of people together and start a church. We are going to start a movement. Something that is as real to them as it is to you, if not more real.
Something that they will believe and teach long after you are gone. You want them to know the Bible so much that they forget you. You want them to get their eyes on the Lord Jesus and His Word.
-So how will you disciple?
-What material will you use?
-Have you ever been discipled?
-Do you know what it looks like?
-Have you ever discipled someone to full maturity in Christ?
I do not mean got them to pray a prayer, get baptized, and attend a few services but rather they are still serving God and faithful in church.
This is much more than just getting them to learn the basics of Christianity. It is maturing them to where they can be leaders in a church, without you!
-How will you help a person grow from salvation to faithfulness and then on to leadership in a church?
Are you ready to do that?
I suggest that you get in your church and begin working at doing just exactly this now where you have the help of your pastor and other leaders. Get experience doing the work before you go off to do the work alone, in another culture, another language, etc.
Are you prepared to go to the mission field is not an academic question. You may know all of it in your head and yet never have practiced any of it with your life. Now is your time. Get a mentor. Get with your pastor. Start doing the work now.
Going over seas will make you a tourist and nothing more. There is nothing magical that happens in the airplane that will make you all of a sudden know how to do the work or get you experience at doing so.
I want to help you in any way that I can. We have materials that you can use to study. We have a training center where we will try to help you. You have a pastor. Talk to him. Tell him that you want to learn how to do all that he does. Ask him to let you tag along. Ask him to give you work to do in the ministry where you can prove your weapons now.
This is big business. It is not a game. So get to work.