Thursday, May 18

In a missionary culture a person does not look to the central hub for direction.

At the end of the previous post I asked, "What is your favorite McNeal [quote] that spoke to you?" My own answer? ALL OF THEM! But today, I'd like to explore a bit the one where Reggie states...

In a missionary culture a person does not look to the central hub for direction.

I have to admit this one intrigues me. What this statement means to me is that in a "missionary culture" like our own, people are so freed and empowered that there is little need for our missionary presence. This would be the realization of our dreams if it were true on a wide-scale basis!

The truth of the matter is that our presence is still largely felt and people continue to look to "the missionary" for all sorts of help, advise, affirmation, "permission", materials, and approval. While all of us need to some degree these things in our lives, they become unhealthy when long term we continue to be that "central hub."

Curtis Sergeant and CPM methodology speak of the MAWL training cycle (model, assist, watch, leave) as the basis of our missionary presence. It is likened to teaching a child to ride a bicycle.

Curtis explains that the parent...

1) provides a model by riding the bicycle,
2) provides assistance to the child by holding the bicycle as they learn to ride,
3) then watches while the child rides the bicycle by themselves,
4) and finally leaving the child to ride on his own.

The secret to achieving a missionary culture where people do not look to the central hub for direction is in understanding and applying the MAWL training cycle.

My own tendency is to stay in the first two stages of modelling and assisting. It is hard to stand back and just watch, not to mention leaving! It takes a special kind of parent to resist jumping in to rescue their children everytime they know the child is about to mess something up.

I am personally not very good, nor do I really understand the "watch" stage very well. It is here that 2 out of every 3 new church plants dissolve, sink, disband--whatever you want to call it. It is very hard to stand by and watch something fall apart. My tendency is to want to jump in and "fix it." Yet as I reflect on the house churches that have survived over the years, they are all--without exception--groups that we have indeed "watched" and yes, "left" to survive on their own.

Some make it, some don't. I have never been able to figure it all out.

Jesus says in Matthew, "I will build my church..." We are actually never really told to plant churches, we are told to make disciples. Making disciples consists in modeling, assisting, watching, and yes--leaving. The churches that no longer look to the "central hub" for direction are the ones that have survived.

Does any of this remind you of raising children?


Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Guy,

I'm not sure I have anything helpful to add. I just wanted you to know I'm reading with great interest.

Love in Christ,


Kiki Cherry said...


We've had to learn this concept with our small groups. And trusting them to ride on their own without falling off is hard!!! The natural tendency is to want to micro-manage.

But then when we see is so cool. We now have two brand new groups totally initiated and started by students, and the majority of the people coming to them are non-believers.

BTW--thanks for all the "prevenience" articles. We've kind of been sensing that God was leading in that direction, but I had to lay the fleece back out a few dozen times to be sure.

But those articles could not have been clearer. It is so comforting and empowering to realize that God was there way ahead of us, and He's already intitiated the work.

Ross Garner said...

I was reading an article about Roland Allen's missiology recently. The apostolic method leaves but does not abandon the young church.

In the UK at the moment there are a few churches which are seeing growth amongst young adults. They practice a "high accountability - low control" model. The "apostolic" church leader meets with the small group leader and asks questions about their spiritual walk, morality etc but has very little input into what the small group does.

Perhaps this is the sort of involvement needed at the "watch" stage?

Kiki Cherry said...


That is basically the same model that we have been employing. One additional thing--and I think it also came from the apostolic model--is that there is an "apprentice" small group leader as well who serves alongside the small group leader.

So the small group leader meets with the "apostolic" church leader, and he also meets with the "apprentice" leader. Then eventually the "apprentice" leader assumes the role of a small group leader as well. That way new leadership is constantly being trained, and the goal of multiplication is kept as a priority.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to start a list of IMB missionaries who are blogging. There is the So Baptist Blog Aggregater but I think most are in the states. In addition, GCC missionary blogs would be good as a seperate list... What do you think?

GuyMuse said...

JRY, Kiki, Ross, and Anon.

Just got back from a weekend retreat with HC leaders and then a couple of days of R&R on the beautiful Ecuadorian coast. Five whole days without phones, internet, traffic, etc. It was wonderful!

Thanks for each of your comments. On the subject of this blog entry, our camp was all in-house with several of our people leading and doing a terrific job. Except for the first night which I was in charge of, the rest was spent "watching" God do an awesome work in the lives of those attending.

Once all the backlogged email is under control, I will try to post something about camp.

Kiki Cherry said...

Cool! Glad you had a great week. I was praying that you would get some R & R. But missed your posts.

Can't wait to hear about camp.

GuyMuse said...


Have you ever checked out "Missionary Blogs?" It is a listing of dozens of M blogs from all over the world and many different missions sending agencies.