Monday, March 20

Lower the bar of how church is done; raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple!

"We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple." --Neil Cole, "Organic Church"

Neil goes on to say: "If Church is simple enough that everyone can do it and is made up of people who take up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be church that empowers the common Christian to do the uncommon works of God." (p.27)

Our "simple" church planting here in Guayaquil is known as "La Iglesia En Tu Casa" (LIETC)--The church in your house.

We have identified at least 13 guiding values that the Lord has seemingly been pleased to bless over the past 5+ years of church planting.

1.) LIETC is built upon a foundation of prayer, which is the most important work in which we are engaged. (Luke 10:2)

2.) LIETC is built upon the idea of "mobilizing the laity." The laity is empowered to go and do tasks traditionally assigned only to trained professional clergy. (Eph.4:11-12, 1 Pet.2:9-10)

3.) LIETC is built upon the concept of taking the church to where the people are, rather than bringing the people to the church. (Matt.28:18-20, Luke 10:3)

4.) LIETC crosses denominational lines and works with Great Commission Christians to plant New Testament churches. (Eph.4:4-6)

5.) LIETC depends on God to provide the workers, free of recruitment or manipulation. Prayer is the key. (Luke 10:2)

6.) LIETC is built upon the understanding that women are likewise called to plant churches. (Matthew 28:18-20)

7.) LIETC is built upon the understanding that it is Christ's responsibility to build His church, not ours (Mt. 16:18). Our task is the Great Commission; his to build His Church.

8.) LIETC is built upon an understanding that the missionary task is primarily one of praying, modeling, teaching, training, encouraging and mentoring. (Eph.4:11-12)

9.) LIETC is built upon the strategic use of locally available and reproducible communication media. We don't use or model anything that can't be done/reproduced locally by the people we work with.

10.) LIETC is built upon the idea of church being more a "family gathering" held in a home setting, and less a "traditional church service." (1 Cor. 12-14, 14:26, Book of Acts)

11.) LIETC is built on the twin pillars of prayer and lifestyle evangelism. There is a continuous emphasis on these two areas.

12.) LIETC is built upon the understanding that group multiplication is the focus, not addition to existing works. (Matthew-Luke, the "parables of the kingdom.")

13.) LIETC belongs to God, and He can do as He pleases. Change in the way things are done is an on-going process as God continues to open our eyes to his ways of building the Kingdom.

6 comments:

Gary Snowden said...

Guy,

I think your team's basic approach of simplifying what it means to be and function as a church while at the same time strongly encouraging the basic disciplines of the Christian life is an extremely healthy approach. I was reminded of so many sound principles of missionary strategy that we were taught both in seminary and later at MLC regarding indigenous church planting methods and your team has done a great job of "fleshing these out" in practical ways. Two of your tenets especially jumped out at me--using and modeling only approaches and strategies that are reproducible in the local setting, and recognizing that God has gifted women to serve as equals in the church planting process. I suspect you might catch some flak on that second issue from some of those with an agenda to "keep women in their place" and not permit them to teach in a setting where men are present.

Anonymous said...

Guy,

Try telling our Regional Leader that we are going to concentrate on discipleship! Even though I serve in a closed country, with relatively few national believers, we are told to "start house churches." Who comes to those "house churches?" Mostly other missionaries.

The head of OM in our region has proposed that all of their missionaries spend the next two years discipling one or two people, instead of joining an artificial "church."

GuyMuse said...

Gary,

Thanks for the encouraging words. The "fleshing out" of these is always messier than they appear on paper, but nevertheless we do feel the Lord's blessing upon these values and have stuck with them now for over five years. If you didn't get a chance, click on the links of the two values you point out for further reading.
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Anon.

By "making disciples" you will plant churches. #7 talks about our task is to concentrate on making disciples, his to build his church. If we do our part, He will certainly do his and plant that church we long to see. We aren't actually told to "plant churches" but if we disciple new believers, there WILL BE NEW CHURCHES PLANTED! Last year we saw 31 new house churches planted. We didn't plant a single one. All we did was disciple those new believers, baptize them, and begin to teach them. Christ is the one who planted the churches.

Kiki Cherry said...

Guy,

Great post!

Your comment "cross denominational lines" was really meaningful to me.

In Quebec, we worked with three different organizations. Two para-church, and one Baptist, but not SBC. That was where the need was, and so we went.

We only had two students who were SBC on either mission trip. In fact, three of our students are from Catholic backgrounds.

But God still worked in amazing ways through both groups! We are still overwhelmed by all that He did, both in Quebec and Peru.

It was good to see the IMB cooperating across denominational lines, too. In Peru, our team worked with the Compassion International center for children, and with several C&MA churches.

If we are going to accomplish kingdom purposes, we have to be willing to cross those denominational lines. It was so exciting to get to be part of "THE CHURCH" this past week. And it had a huge impact on our students.

GuyMuse said...

Kiki,

Thanks for the good word. I agree with you about the blessing of joining efforts to fulfill the GC. It seems sometimes we have forgotten Jesus prayer in John 17 about unity within the Body, also Paul admonitions to the Corinthian church about segregating themselves into separate parties.

If you get a chance click on the link to the fourth point to see the IMB's official stance on this matter of crossing denominational lines. It is a good word.

Tim Sweatman said...

It's great to see something so encouraging! Your approach seems to be very God-focused. No wonder you are seeing results!