The following article was written by Jonathan Anderson, missionary to Mexico. I believe that you will enjoy it reading it. If you have questions or comments please leave them in the comment section and both Jonathan and others will respond.
I would like to share with you all how to hold back the nationals and keep them from going forward. Obviously, I could come at this from the other side, but I would like for you to see clearly the things that will keep our churches and national believers from growing and taking the next step when we are gone.
1. Don’t have a discipleship ministry in your church
“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.” 2 Timothy 2:2
We are currently seeing the national believers grow in the Word, but what I really would like to point out is that they are now starting to disciple other new believers! Those who we have spent time with each week over the past 6 months are now stepping out and looking for others to disciple. This will only happen if you take the time in the beginning with the original group of new believers. You must lay the foundation or give the example for the other believers to follow.
The church that does not disciple cannot have a spiritually mature church in the future. There are churches that are big on soul-winning, or they are always having “big days”, but this does not produce mature Christians. The church that takes the time to have “one on one discipleship” as part of their church’s ministries will enable their members to have a vital part in their local church. There could be much more said about discipleship but the point here is that our churches must disciple the believers not just on Sunday mornings, but they should also take the time to allow discipleship to become a vital part of their everyday lives.
2. Don’t allow the men of the church to help make decisions
Every month I have a meeting with the men of the church. I’m not talking about the assistant pastors or the men who are receiving a salary. Every man who desires to be part of our local church is encouraged to take part in this special time. What do we cover in the meeting?
-Decisions that need to be made in the church.
-We talk about the church budget from the previous month.
-The men have the opportunity to ask questions about where the church is headed.
-I also share a devotional with the men that will help them with what they are going through.
Why have a time like this each month?
1.They learn how to make decisions and this will enable the church to go forward when the missionary has moved on to a new church plant. This would fit under self-governing. They will one day make decisions without the missionary. Some of these men will become deacons or even future assistant pastors and this time will help them be better prepared.
2.This also helps the men to make decisions in their own homes. A lot of times they are not sure how to make decisions in the home, but after thinking through things and helping make decisions in the church, this will aid them as leaders to fulfill their role in the home.
3. Do things that the national pastor cannot continue doing
As a missionary we are not called to show off how much we can make the national church look like an American church. We are called to preach the Word and allow the Bible to change their lives and the parts of their culture that do not align with the Word of God.
This includes doing things or buying things that the national pastor, or church will not be able to do or buy after you leave. You may be able to make the church a great success while you are there, but you also must think about the future and how the church will be able to keep up what you have started. Some missionaries may buy things for the national church with their money, but afterwards the church will not be able to buy a new one or replace what the missionary has bought with his support money. Yes you as the missionary you will buy things for the church at the beginning, but at the same time you must be thinking about how the church will keep up what you have started.
Example, the church here in Mexico is using a material that we can easily print for little to no cost when there are new believers that need to be discipled. There are lots of materials available in the United States that we could use and they would be a great help! But, we must think about the future of the church while implementing these things in the new work. Yes some of these materials like, CDs, DVDs, could be a great help. Again, will the national church be able to get these things easily? Will they have to pay a lot of money in order to keep up what you started?
We also are preparing and printing some materials right now for the children’s classes. What we are preparing right now will be used in 4 or 5 years from now. Also try to get your hands on good materials that are free. If you always have to order more materials or books from the United States, the church may not be able to keep that up in the future. The church need not depend on the missionary every time they need more materials, music CDs, books, or anything else that would be impossible to get without the missionaries help.
4. Don’t delegate things over to the nationals
This last one will make or break a church. Can I say it this way… If you always try to keep everything and everyone under your finger, they will never become much for God.
You must first let them know that you believe that God will use their lives in a great way.
By delegating things over to those who desire to grow, they will know that you believe in them. Trust is a word that does not exist in many ministries. It’s not that we cannot learn to trust those under us, but that we don’t want to trust those who might just succeed in our ministries. Yes, sometimes that trust will be broken, but for those who will become men and women of God, it’s worth it!
Next, that trust must be put into action. You must delegate the work to those “faithful men” who will in turn, delegate the work to other believers.
As one of my mentors has said many times, be so busy that you have to delegate! Don’t get caught up in the ministry so much that you are not thinking about how the believers can be prepared for the future.
I had asked one of the brothers in the church to prepare a 5 minute sermon. He was going to share right before the offering. The only thing was, I forgot to have him share. Yes this is more of a funny story, but serious there are many pastors and missionaries who don’t have time for those who want to grow. Spend 80% of your ministry time with those who truly want to grow and become “faithful men” in your church. The other 20% of your ministry time will be spent with those who really are not desiring to grow but that will show up on Sunday morning.
Remember that the church needs to become self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating.
Just like a child grows up and learns to have his own family and make decisions as the leader of his home, the national church needs to have that same opportunity. They can be a success without you as the missionary hovering over them for years to come.
In reality if we are not careful, we will hold back the national pastor and the church that God can and will use in the coming days. Keep it in perspective as you think about the future and act as a man trainer who has children in the faith that will one day become grown men and women. We must have double vision! Where they are, and what God is going to do with their lives in the coming days!