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MISSIOLOGY

VIII. Strategy of Missions

  IN ORDER TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN REACHING MANY PEOPLE FOR CHRIST, A MISSIONARY NEEDS A BIBLICAL STRATEGY. Missions in many places have failed or grown slowly because the wrong strategies were used. So multiplied centuries have passed with the church not expanding in some places.

David Garrison, in his booklet, Church Planting Movements, identifies things that promote exponential growth and things that inhibit growth of the church on mission fields.

Following is a summary of key points from Garrison’s booklet, together with some additional information. The goal of a missionary should be to promote church planting movements within people groups. Garrison defines a church planting movement (CPM) as “a rapid and exponential increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.”22 The CPM is rapid—it may result in many new churches within a few years. The CPM is exponential—two churches become four, four churches become eight, eight churches become sixteen, and so on. The CPM is comprised of indigenous churches—the people within a culture initiate and sustain the churches. The CPM welcomes people from any people group, but each church initially focuses on reaching people within a particular people group or population segment. People respond best to people that have similar language and cultural traits.

Church planting movements are occurring in North Africa, China, Latin America, Western Europe, and Ethiopia. Techniques described in Garrison’s booklet help promote such church planting movements in various cultures. Some of these strategies are based on Biblical teaching. For example, Garrison promotes church planting by indigenous churches. Paul the Apostle planted churches around the Mediterranean, and then he encouraged the churches to do all of the work of the church. Part of that work included witnessing so that indigenous people planted other churches. Paul taught that each member of the church had one or more gifts that were to be employed. Some had the gift of prophecy, and one can infer that such prophets spoke not only to existing churches but also to new churches (see Romans 12: 6). Some had the gift of evangelism, so that new churches formed as the Gospel spread (see Ephesians 4:11).

Garrison says that indigenous churches should not have to adapt to the culture of a missionary. Paul the Apostle encouraged indigenous churches among the Greeks without requiring that they adopt all the Hebrew customs and rituals, and Peter and James agreed with Paul (see Acts 15:1,2,6-21).

Garrison describes how churches today may meet as cell groups in homes. The Apostle Luke described how the first Christians broke bread together (celebrated the Lord’s Supper) in homes and how the church grew daily (see Acts 2:46,47).

The ultimate purpose of a church planting movement is not to multiply churches, but it is to bring people of many churches to worship God. The goal of missions is to glorify God, and we give glory to God as people are brought to faith in him.

The strategy for church planting movements is not to teach an indigenous missionary to plant churches for the churches. Rather, it is to get the indigenous churches to reproduce themselves. One missionary is limited in how many churches he can plant. But churches can reproduce themselves until they spread throughout the whole world. However, it is important that each church develops a mission group or cooperates with a mission organization with the specific goal of planting new churches. History has shown that churches often fail to conduct missions unless there is some mission group working toward such outreach.

Garrison describes how a church planting movement occurred in a Latin American people group from 1989 through 1998. Foreign missionaries had laid the spiritual foundation for the churches by teaching members to rely on Scripture and to see themselves as priests (the concept of the priesthood of the believer). Then the government expelled the foreign missionaries. This forced the church to become indigenous. The church members then focused on prayer. They sang hymns in their heart language, not in the language of foreigners. Then an economic crisis prevented members from traveling far to their church, so they were forced to meet in small groups in homes (cell groups). Missionaries who had returned to assist, but not control the church, provided information on cell group models used in areas of the world. Meeting in small groups accelerated the growth of the church. A lay missionary school was developed and missionaries were sent throughout the country. In the south, the number of churches increased from 129 in 1989 to 1,918 in 1998. In the north, the number of churches increased from 95 in 1989 to 1,340 in 1998. The indigenous church grew ten times as fast in a decade as it had in the century before! What made the difference? Through prayer and stratagem, a church planting movement had occurred.

Similar rapid-growth church planting movements have taken place in other countries. Let us examine ten elements that were present in all of the church planting movements described by Garrison.
 
 

1.

Prayer. A missionary models prayer and teaches the churches the power of prayer.    
 

2.

Abundant Gospel Sowing. Though mass media evangelism and personal evangelism, the Gospel is presented to many people.    
 

3.

Intentional Church Planting. Even before a church planting movement is in progress, someone deliberately plans one or more churches.    
 

4.

Scriptural Authority. The church understands that the Bible is their authority. It is important to have Scripture in the heart-language of the people. People are taught the Bible orally and in written form.    
 

5.

Local Leadership. A missionary models the role of pastor and the role of participative Bible study leader. The missionary does not assume these roles for himself; rather he teaches indigenous people to assume the roles.    
 

6.

Lay Leadership. Initially, leaders are from the laity, rather than being Seminary trained.    
 

7.

Cell or House Churches. The church is organized into cell groups or into house churches—having 10 to 30 participants in each group. The concept of a cell group comes from the idea of cells in a human body, which reproduce themselves as the body grows. One cell becomes two cells, two cells become four cells, and so on. In the church, cell groups are linked to each other under central leadership. This link has the advantage of guiding the cell groups toward correct doctrine. House churches are autonomous, so they are less vulnerable to detection and suppression by hostile governments.    
 

8.

Churches Planting Churches. Indigenous churches plant more indigenous churches. Church members understand that they can and should reproduce churches.    
 

9.

Rapid Reproduction. Most church planters involved with CPMs say that rapid growth encourages and sustains more growth.    
 

10.

Healthy Churches. Healthy churches pursue the five functions of the church as given in Acts 2:41-47. These five functions are: worship, proclamation, service, fellowship, and evangelism (See the training module “Church Leadership”). Garrison lists five functions that are similar to these.    
  In addition to the ten elements that are universal to every church planting movement, Garrison lists ten elements that are frequently found in church planting movements.  
 

1.

Worship in the Heart Language. Ultimately, people worship in their heart language. Missionaries should learn the heart language, not just the trade language.    
 

2.

Evangelism has Communal Implications. When appropriate, new believers are encouraged to witness to their own families. There are some situations where a believer would be persecuted if he witnesses to a family member, so discretion must be used in witnessing. But this is often an effective method of church growth (see Acts 16:31-32). Timing is important in witnessing. Believers should prayerfully seek the Lord’s timing as to when to witness, and seek the Lord’s guidance regarding how to witness.    
 

3.

Rapid Incorporation of New Converts into the Life and Ministry of the Church. New believers are encouraged to witness immediately to others and help start new churches.    
 

4.

Passion and Fearlessness. There is boldness and a sense of urgency on the part of believers in CPMs.    
 

5.

A Price to Pay to Become a Christian. In areas where the Gospel is discouraged by society or government, uncommitted church members are screened out and the remnant is dedicated. Jesus taught his disciples to witness under persecution, and when persecuted in one place, to flee to another place to witness (see Matt. 10:16-23).    
 

6.

Perceived Leadership Crisis or Spiritual Vacuum in Society. When a country or people group becomes insecure due to some crisis, people are more willing to turn to God for answers.    
 

7.

On-the-Job Training for Church Leadership. Rather than slowing CPMs by removing leaders from their churches, theological education can be provided on site. Short-term training modules, such as those offered on our website (www.missionstraining.org) are effective means of developing missionaries and church leaders.    
 

8.

Leadership Authority is Decentralized. Each cell and each house church needs the authority to minister and plant churches without getting approval from a hierarchy.    
 

9.

Outsiders Keep a Low Profile. Missionaries mentor church leaders behind the scenes.    
 

10.

Missionaries Suffer. Often missionaries involved with CPM’s suffer. Some of this is due to their self-destructive behavior, and some of this is due to adversaries. So missionaries need to pray.    
  God is responsible for saving people from condemnation and for drawing them into his church. But he has commissioned members of the church to carry out his work. Garrison lists ten practical ways in which missionaries can facilitate a CPM. Some of these techniques are appropriate in some situations and not in others.  
 

1.

Pursue a CPM Orientation from the Beginning. From the start, participants in a cell group are taught to pursue the goals of a CPM.    
 

2.

Develop and Implement Comprehensive Strategies. A strategy should include at least four things: prayer, Scripture, evangelism, and church planting. Other elements will vary with the situation.    
 

3.

Evaluate Everything to Achieve the End-Vision. Leaders should eliminate those things that do not lead to the desired results.    
 

4.

Employ Precision Harvesting. In areas where mass evangelism is conducted, a church planter may be able to obtain the names and addresses of respondents to such evangelism. It is important to partner with those involved in such ministries. In some cases, a broadcaster outside a country may conduct the evangelism. That broadcaster may provide helpful information to the missionary entering a particular country.    
 

5.

Prepare New Believers for Persecution . Believers should be prepared for persecution, not surprised by persecution (see Mark 8:34).    
 

6.

Gather Them, Then Win Them. Sometimes, non-believers are brought together to learn about God and simultaneously they are given a vision for a CPM.    
 

7.

Plant POUCH churches. This acronym stands for:    
 

- Participative Bible Studies
- Obedience to the Bible as the sole measure of success
- Unpaid and non-hierarchical leadership
- Cell groups (one way to meet)
- House churches (another way to meet

 

8.

Develop Multiple Leaders Within Each Cell Church. From the beginning, prepare multiple leaders to handle the needs of a growing church.    
 

9.

Use On-the-Job Training. This is also addressed above under ten elements that are common to many CPMs. Church leaders may be removed from their job to receive theological training for a few weeks at a time, rather than for long periods of time.    
 

10.

Model, Assist, Watch, and Leave. Missionaries should model a task, assist leaders in doing the job, watch to see that the job is done correctly, and leave when the leaders are trained. Modeling is accomplished by doing things in the presence of others. This is called the “222 principle,” based on 2 Timothy 2:2. The missionary not only models, he teaches his disciples to model for others.    
  Garrison addresses some frequently asked questions.  
 

1.

Are church buildings necessary? Initially, church buildings are not needed generally, and may create a burden of maintenance that inhibits church growth.    
 

2.

Do Church Planting Movements Foster Heresy? The best way to prevent heresy is to teach disciples “to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). Notice that disciples are taught to observe—“to hold fast to” the things that Christ commanded. Disciples are not taught merely to see Scripture, they are taught to obey Scripture.    
 

3.

What do you do with the kids when the cell groups meet? They may be brought into the cell group meeting or put in a separate group under rotating leaders from the cell group.    
  Garrison lists nine obstacles to CPM's.  
 

1.

Imposing Extra-Biblical Requirements for Being a Church. Requiring a group to have such things as a building or paid clergy prior to becoming a church is counterproductive.    
 

2.

Loss of a Valued Cultural Identity. Churches that are required to adapt to a foreign culture are unlikely to reproduce quickly.    
 

3.

Overcoming Bad Examples of Christianity. A church that has members who fail to model Christian values may cause people in a culture to be wary of other Christians.    
 

4.

Non-Reproducible Church Models. If the indigenous people cannot reproduce the components of a church, the component should not be introduced. For example, if cinder blocks or folding chairs are not generally available to a culture, they should not be introduced in the first church.    
 

5.

Subsidies Creating Dependency. Outside monies might be used for outreach materials, but not for subsidizing salaries or buildings.    
 

6.

Extra-Biblical Leadership Requirements. In selecting disciples, the Bible emphasizes selecting people of good moral character who are willing to follow, rather than seeking people with a lot of theological training. See Scripture describing Christ’s selection of the twelve disciples (Matt. 4:18-22) and Paul’s criteria for elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3).    
 

7.

Sequentialism. Rather than pursuing sequential steps to church planting (first learning the language, then developing relationships, then witnessing, then discipling, then forming a congregation, then training leaders, and then starting another church.), it is better to immediately witness and share a vision for CPMs.    
 

8.

Planting “frog” rather than “lizard” churches. “Frogs” sit fat and complacent, waiting for non-believers to come to them. “Lizards” seek out non-believers from cracks and crevices. Lizards may “change colors” or adapt to their environment.    
 

9.

Prescriptive Strategies. Rather than following a set method for church planting, it is necessary to follow the Holy Spirit. The strategies suggested in this module are only suggestions. It is vital that missionaries see how the Lord is working, and join him in that work (see the training module—The Call to Missions).    
  In addition to the ideas presented by Garrison, consider the following components that are important for successful missions.  
 

1.

Love. Missionaries must love the people. If there is no love, all other things done are as nothing (see 1 Corinthians 13).    
 

2.

Go in Pairs and Seek a Man of Peace. As outlined above, missionaries are encouraged to go in pairs. Jesus sent out evangelists in pairs, and told them to seek out and stay with a “man of peace.”    
      1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two [a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5 "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. (Luke 10:1-7 NIV)


a. Luke 10:1 Some manuscripts seventy; also in verse 17.

See also Luke 10:8-24.


Missionaries entering a country may already know of someone with whom they may live. They may simply stay in rented facilities while they seek out a “man of peace.” That man (or woman) of peace may then be a primary contact through which the missionaries become acquainted with a culture.
   
         
         
         
         
 

3.

Following the Holy Spirit, Identify and Learn About a Target People Group. To help in this process, there is information available via the internet that describes people groups:

http://www.joshuaproject.net/index.php  

Missionaries should know as much as possible about the people that they are evangelizing.
   
 

4.

Learn How to Evangelize and Disciple a Particular People Group . It is helpful to have an understanding of various techniques of evangelism and discipleship. Then it is necessary to adapt such techniques to the needs of a particular culture. What works in one culture may not work in another culture.    
 

5.

Acquire the Tools for the Job. Take the practical skills and resources to spread the Gospel to a people group. Determine if Bibles are available in the heart-language of the people. Obtain or prepare Bible Stories that summarize key truths of the Bible. Many missionaries today use storytelling to hold the interest of listeners and communicate the Gospel. Jesus set an example by speaking in parables. People like to listen to stories, and they can remember stories. The following website gives examples of stories, and instructions for preparing other stories:

http://chronologicalbiblestorying.com/

If the government will allow Christian materials to be brought to the mission field, obtain appropriate video or audio resources. The Jesus Film is available in many languages, and is effective in presenting the Good News.

Take some basic books to help in teaching and in preparing sermons. Take a Bible or Bibles that are faithful to the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts. Good Bibles in the English language include The New International Version, or the New American Standard Version. Many Bibles and study guides are available online, if you can access such websites from the mission field. One such website is:

http://www.bibles.net/

Other books that you will need include a Topical Bible, an Exhaustive Concordance, and perhaps a Commentary on the Bible.
   
 

6.

Go Where God Wants You to Go. Pray for God’s guidance in leading you to a mission field. Ask your church or mission-sending agency to also pray for guidance. Seek God’s guidance in leading you to a people group.

Follow the Holy Spirit. The Spirit led the Apostle Paul and his companions to avoid certain places and to go to Macedonia for mission work (see Acts 16:6-10). The Holy Spirit warned Paul of danger, but compelled him to go as a witness to Jerusalem (see Acts 20:22-24).

Go where the people are. Someone once asked a bank robber why he robbed banks. He replied, “That’s where the money is.” If someone asks, “Why do you start missions in cities?” We reply, “That’s where the people are.” The Apostle Paul set an example by going to the following places:
   
     
  • First, to cities. People in the country migrate to and from cities. So the Gospel spreads from the cities to the country (see Acts 17:16-21).
     
  • Second, to places where people already have some knowledge of God. Paul first went to synagogues—Jewish places of worship. The Jews had knowledge of Jehovah God. They did not yet believe in Jesus. So Paul built upon what the Jews knew, and presented the Good News of Christ. Paul was a Jew, and he felt a calling to present the Gospel first to Jews.
     
  • Third, to God-Fearing Gentiles. When many of the Jews rejected the Gospel, Paul witnessed to God-Fearing Gentiles. “God-Fearers” were converts to Judaism.
     
  • Fourth, to places where other people would be likely to respond to the Gospel. In Philippi, a city in Macedonia, Paul first went to a river where he expected to find a place of prayer (see Acts 16:12,13). In Athens, Paul went to the marketplace. He was then invited to speak at the Aeropagus, a place for philosophical debates.
     
  • Fifth, to large numbers of people as opportunities arose. In Tyrannus (Ephesus), Paul spoke daily in the lecture hall so all the Jews and Greeks in the province of Asia heard the Gospel (see Acts 19:9,10). Paul made his defense of the Gospel to a riotous crowd in Jerusalem (see Acts 21:30,40; 22:1-22).
     
  • Sixth, to governmental officials that questioned Paul. He did not seek out such officials, but when he was placed on trial, he witnessed to them. In some cases, it is better to remain silent. In other cases, it is better to speak. In his situation, Paul saw no reason to remain silent, but openly proclaimed the Gospel to Governor Felix (Acts 24:2), and to King Agrippa and Governor Festus (Acts 26).
Notice that Paul followed a pattern in seeking out people who would be most likely to respond to the Gospel. He wanted to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
     
 
 
 

22 David Garrison, Church Planting Movements, 2000, (Office of Overseas Operations, International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, P. O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230-0767, U.S.A.) 8.
Note: The material above was taken from a booklet. If you wish to purchase a more extensive book on church planting, you may purchase Church Planting Movements, How God is Redeeming a Lost World , by David Garrison, WIGTake Resources, Arkadelphia, AR, United States, 360 pages, Paperback, for about $18.95.

 
             
             
   
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