Tuesday, December 12

Church planting with charismatics

Do we work with and relate to Charismatics overseas? Yes. They are often passionate believers who are generally, more on fire for the winning of a lost world to Jesus Christ than, sad to say, most of our Baptist brethren.

I have been told 80% of evangelicals in Ecuador are either charismatics or pentecostals. To ignore and disassociate ourselves from them is not only unbiblical, it is ministry suicide, and quite clearly sin if you ask me.

Elsewhere I have posted about "unresponsiveness" being one of my biggest aggravations about being a missionary. It has been a source of frustration trying to motivate, convince, inspire, and partner with our Baptist brethren to go out into the world, evangelize/disciple and start new churches. Those who are eager and responsive are, for the most part, charismatics and pentecostals. Is it any wonder they make up 80% of the evangelical community?

I would personally feel a lot more comfortable training like-minded Baptists, but when there is little, to no response forthcoming, we do what the parable of the wedding banquet says,
"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' "But they paid no attention and went off--one to his field, another to his business...The king was enraged..."Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. --Matthew 22:2-10
When the invited guests make excuses for not coming, we literally "go to the streets" and invite anyone who is willing to come to the "training banquet" and be part of our church planting. Our constituency may not forgive us for doing this, but I feel the Lord does! :)

The IMB has made clear we are not to count such churches that are pentecostal in orientation or have women in leadership. But this is a very gray area...

What do you do when a charismatic/pentecostal brother or sister comes to one of our church planting trainings? Turn them away? No way! They are invited guests and treated with full courtesy and get everything the invited guests would have received. They grasp the concepts, use our Baptist materials, are mentored, guided by Baptist missionaries, and then go out and plant one or more "outreach groups" that soon become NT churches.

The end result is New Testament churches started by charistmatic/pentecostals. Are they Baptist churches? Pentecostal churches? I don't know what they are!

Why can't we just simply call them New Testament churches?

If they are NT churches, shouldn't we count them as legitimate? Just because the brother/sister who started them comes from a different church background than myself, does that invalidate their church planting? I personally do not think so. Yet, to protect the integrity of our reporting only Baptist work to our S. Baptist constituency, many of these new works end up only being counted in Heaven by the Lord of the Harvest.

Now to be honest, I myself believe these "baptistic" NT churches that have been planted by our charismatics/pentecostal brothers should be counted. We relate to them, and have trained those that lead them. A gray area for me personally is... when do they cease to be legitimate "baptistic" church plants, and clearly become pentecostal church plants? What line has to be crossed to cease to be "baptistic" and become "pentecostal"?

Most of our established, traditional Baptist churches in Guayaquil are to some degree influenced by charismatic teachings and practices. Some more than others. There are some that carry the name "Baptist" who are nearly as pentecostal in practice as any Pentecostal church around. Yet they call themselves Baptist. They are reported year after year on the annual IMB statistical reports. When does one cross the line and cease to be Baptist? Maybe I should know, but I don't. Who is it that defines these things?

I seriously believe that if the Baptist Faith and Message were made an issue here like it is in the States, very few would have a problem with the document (my opinion). Yet many of these same Baptists have been greatly influenced by the charistmatic/pentecostal movements around them. If you were to come down and visit some of our churches you would certainly wonder if they were indeed Baptist by their teachings and practices!

If anybody out there would care to share your thoughts on any of this with me, please feel free to do so. I have two open ears, and am willing to listen and learn. I admit they are not easy matters. While I do not believe we are even close yet to seeing a church planting movement in our midst, what David Garrison describes as a characteristic of CPM is something we see quite clearly already: church planting is a MESSY business! I couldn't agree more.

21 comments:

Ken Sorrell said...

Guy,

Where to start? First, when the time of year rolls around to complete our organization's ASR (annual statistical report) cold chills start running up and down my spine. I believe it may be one of the more difficult challenges we face as missionaries. ;-)

While in the K'ekchi' work we regularly partnered with Nazarene and Mennonite Christians. However, we never really saw too much of the them or the Pentecostals when it got down to church planting because of the differences in church polity, some denominational restrictions, and leadership issues.

At the same time we too never turned anyone away who attended any of our trainings. I don't have any wonderful answers to share except to say that I have also experienced what you describe as unresponsive Baptist brothers and sisters as we moved more into Spanish work.

I fear that many times our Baptist churches spend so much time trying not to be Catholic, Pentecostal, or something else, they forget to be who they are; disciples of Christ and Baptists.

mr. t said...

Guy,

Yes, we work with charismatics in the "uddermost". We don't have a choice. We visited the Baptist church in our city and thought we were at an Anglican service. I asked some young people if it was the Baptist church, they answered yes. I asked if they were members, they said yes. I asked how long have they been Christians, they replied, "we were born Christian."

Here we have more in common with charismatic brothers and sisters in Christ. The ones we work with to plant New Testament churches do not claim any denominational affiliation. They identify themselves as simply B_____ people churches indigenous to this area. I shared the BF&M 2k with them and they affirmed it.

I have done training for Assemblies of God, Presbyterians, and Anglicans. But we do not count them as part of our work. We are simply helping them to be more effective in their church planting efforts.

It is all kingdom work. However, we try to remain faithful to guidelines from our denomination and count only those churches that meet the criteria given by our IMB.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Guy,

This issue won't be settled before Jesus comes back. Your Pentecostals must not look like ours. It's not gray down here. It's pretty black and white when it comes to what a Pentecostal is and what a Pentecostal is not. I won't go into all that; there are obvious differences in our countries.

But there are also resounding similarities. For one, were are over 80% Pentecostal. Baptists are way down the list, both in total membership and percentage of evangelical believers. So, yes, we train Pentecostals, too.

Dare I say it? I even preach in their churches when they invite me!

I am sure you rejoice every time the good brethren of the P-churches plant a new one. God rejoices each time a sinner repents and believes; it is only fitting that we do, too--P, B, or whatever.

As for counting them, I don't think it really matters, brother. We just need to think like the sports equipment commercial says and "Just Do It." Just train the people and let God plant the churches. His book is the only one that really counts anyway.

GuyMuse said...

Ken,

I totally agree with you that Annual Statistical Reports are one of the most difficult challenges we face as Ms on the field. There is so much gray and subjectivism to the whole process. Where I am encouraged is that whether or not our numbers are anything close to accurate, the Kingdom is definitely advancing in Latin America. I count it a priviledge to be part of the harvest started back decades ago by people like my parents and many M aunts and uncles.

Mr."T",

I can certainly identify with what you write. The face of global christianity is changing colors. As "The Next Christendom" speaks about Christianity being non-white, and definitely charistmatic/pentecostal in orientation. I of course, hold to my cherished Baptist upbringing, but also recognize that we are no longer the predominate voice out there in matters of interpretation and way the church expresses herself.

Kevin,

No, our c/p are the same as yours, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. The "gray" I was referring to is what exact teachings or practices cause a new church plant to cross the line from being "baptistic" to becoming "pentecostal". That is what is harder for me to determine. There are certain practices, emotional expressions, etc. that are traditionally considered c/p tendencies, but they are not prohibited biblically. When is that invisible line crossed? BTW, the "Just Do It" has been our slogan all along. It is great CP advise for all of us. Just get out there and do what Jesus said to do; leave all the other stuff up to Him.

steve said...

Guy,

I tried sending this to your 'bigfoot' account, but I received an undeliverable message. I hope you don't mind that I'm leaving this on your message board.

My name is Steve and I currently live in Conway, Arkansas (just north of Little Rock). I “ran across” you while reading one of Bryan Riley’s blog (his wife’s sister and I attend church together). A few weeks ago, I clicked into your blog and have been faithfully reading your commentaries since. They have been a great source of encouragement, especially one of your most recent entries regarding your 20 year anniversary with the IMB. A little about us - God made it crystal clear to my wife and me last year that He wanted us to commit to that which He was calling us…career missions. Though I knew the calling, I ran from the calling for about 5 months. One conversation I had with God – “I am 38, very involved in my church, 3 children under the age of 10 – how on earth could you possibly do this to me, God?” The running finally stopped this past March when we publicly surrendered to a life of missions. I am currently enrolled at Southwestern in Fort Worth (taking classes online) and working towards the completion of the 30 hour track (eventually a master’s in missiology if this is God’s desire) which will enable us to be church planters with the IMB. It is with great anticipation that I read your blogs – your experience and insight have been so very beneficial, especially for someone so “new” to this.

I’m not really sure why I tell you all this, other than the fact that I believe God is using you in my life. I will continue to pray for you and your wife…and I ask that you do the same for my family (it has only been within the past year or so that I fully understand the power behind God’s praying people). We leave for Piedras Negras, Mexico 3 weeks from this Friday to evangelize for 8 days - not sure what all God has in store, but we know that His Hand will be hard at work!!

Take care,
Steve

Daniel said...

Querido Guy
En Argentina se entiende el término "carismático" de otra manera a la planteada en su post.
Aquí, se denominan carismáticos a los católicos pentecostalizados. Estos son católicos, marianistas y regidos por la autoridad papal. Pero se diferencian de los tradicionales en algunos aspectos del "culto". Promueven la participación juvenil y utilizan mucho el canto congregacional. Muchos de ellos hasta cantan famosos temas de Marcos Witt.
Sin embargo, su doctrina en esencia idólatra se mantiene intacta.
Cambiaron la forma para lograr una mejor performance a la hora de competir con los auténticos pentecostales que les habían sacado multitud de feligreses.

Pero entiendo, y queda claro que cuando Usted habla de carismáticos/pentecostales, no se refiere a éstos, sino a la denominación evangélica pentecostal propiamente dicha.

En Argentina, la penetración del pentecostalismo es muy importante sobre todo en las clases sociales más bajas o intelectualmente "menos exigentes".
La idiosincrasia de la gente nativa de Argentina, propensa al fetichismo y expresiones o explicaciones místicas, hace que el pentecostalismo resulte en cierta manera más afín a su cultura.

Es así que muchos líderes pentecostales han tenido mucho éxito, más por la eficaz estrategia de adaptar la doctrina a la idiosincrasia, que por adaptar la idiosincrasia a la doctrina.

En Argentina, la denominación que más ha crecido y que ha superado cualquier expectativa es la Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios, una organización/empresa religiosa de origen brasileña.

Ver sus reuniones es ver la expresión otrora predicada por los pentecostales genuinos, pero de manera distorsionada, inventada y/o exagerada. La apelación al lenguaje de contenido místico, los fetiches y la psicología de las culpas son herramientas sumamente eficaces. Sus prácticas exorcistas son otros de los recursos que dejan boquiabiertos a los incautos.

Resumiendo.
En Argentina se conoce como carismáticos a una rama del catolicismo romano.
Entre los pentecostales hay de todo. Desde fundamentalistas tradicionales hasta los adeptos a la Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios.
Entonces, resulta difícil separar quien es quien.

Ahhh... me olvidaba. En Argentina, la mayoría de los bautistas se han pentecostalizado. Y de ellos, una parte asimiló los conceptos carismáticos tal cual Usted lo propone, pero otra parte (creo que la mayoría) se desintegró formando "ministerios" independientes que adoptaron la expresiva liturgia pentecostal, mas no siempre conservando lo bueno de la arraigambre bautista (que existe y que no es poco)

Celebro su iniciativa, siempre en procura de llegar con el Evangelio a la gente, y teniendo en cuenta la Palabra de Dios, como rectora de cualquier estratregia.

Un gran abrazo
Daniel

Bryan Riley said...

My concern is this: it appears to me that many Baptist leaders define "Charismatic" as anyone who doesn't believe in cessationism. Perhaps it isn't that drastic, but what really is considered charismatic by the IMB? It greatly concerns me that the response to some worship gone awry and Corinthian-like is to go stone cold and to label anything that includes one too many hallelujahs as Charismatic.

Am I overstating?

GuyMuse said...

Steve,

What a blessing to get your comment and read a bit of your own pilgrimage. Sorry about the bigfoot email address. Thanks to you it is now corrected and should work. How thrilling it is to hear about your own call to missions and to know that you are currently at the best seminary in the world. I received my "Master of Music" degree from SWBTS in May '86! I will pray for you that the Lord would continue to do in your life all that He has planned, and that your trip to Mexico will be fruitful and that the Lord would speak to you while there in a fresh way about His call upon your life. There are several really excellent M bloggers out there. My favorites are all on the right hand side bar. I would invite you to click on some of them and give them a read. Start with Ken Sorrell, Missions Misunderstood, Mr.T, David Rogers, and then work your way through the rest at your leisure. Some good M blogging going on out there!

------------------

Daniel and Bryan,

Daniel please bear with my English since I want to say the same thing to Bryan as well. Yes, I am aware that there are many understandings of what a "charismatic" is. That is part of the problem. The term is used so loosely and means so many different things to different people. The way I am using the term "charismatic" may not be correct, but it is my understanding that "Pentecostal" are those clearly identified denominations that grew out of the Azusa revival in Southern California back in the early part of the last century. They would include Four Square Gospel, Assemblies of God, and many others. Charismatics are those traditional denominations like Baptist, Methodist (even Catholic) that have adopted teachings and practices of the pentecostals, yet choose to remain in their own denominations. Hno. Daniel, en este caso el término Católicos Carismáticos es precisamente correcto. Pero cuando un Bautista empieza a enseñar y practicar aspectos del pentecostalismo, también se les refiere a "carismáticos". Por ejemplo muchos de tus buenos amigos allá en su país son pastores de iglesias Bautistas (como Pablo Deiros), pero sin duda son carismáticos. Por lo menos aquí un Bautista carismático se "ofende" al llamarlo un "pentecostal", porque no son pentecostales sino Bautistas carismáticos.

So those who choose to remain within their denominations and yet practice some degree of pentecostal practices are referred to as charismatics. That is my understanding of the term.

Anyway, thanks for your excellent comments y que Dios les bendiga ricamente (get that Bryan?)

Daniel said...

Si, mi apreciado Guy

He leído lo escrito por Bryan.
Se trata de una cuestión semántica. Pero me pareció propicia la oportunidad para aclarar y de esta manera reforzar el concepto de su post con inequívoco planteo. Nunca falta algún mal intencionado que puede confundir adrede los conceptos.

Por aquí también algun bautista podría ofenderse de llamárselo pentecostal, pero el grueso de la gente se ofendería más si lo lamamos "carismático"-
-Je, jé...- Cosas del idioma y sus variantes

Mi aprecio a su vida y obra es cada vez mayor.
Oro por Usted
Daniel

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Guy,

Your post has struck more than one nerve,producing an itch that begs to be scratched.

It appears that we focus on one aspect of Pentecostalism, namely the miracle gifts, as that one distinctive of what characterizes a Pentecostal. Pentecostalism is a belief system. It includes an emphasis on the gifts, yes; but it also includes a separate baptism in or of the Holy Spirit. Strict Pentecostalism and Charismatic Theology maintains that the evidence of that baptism is speaking in tongues (I am not speaking about cessationism in relation to this). In other words, all true believers who are filled with the Spirit will, by spiritual law, speak in tongues.

The Pentecostal doctrine also places an undue emphasis on the free will of man. I mean, by that, any man or woman can choose to turn away from the faith at any point after having embraced the faith.

Pentecostalism also maintains that all the doctrines and covenants that pertained to Israel now pertain to the church. If so, why are we not living in the Middle East!?

Those are the chief means by which I distinguish "baptistic" from "pentecostal."

David Rogers said...

Guy,

I have also found the majority of Baptists in Spain who are really interested in evangelism and church planting (with some good exceptions) to at least "lean" towards the "charismatic" side, if not technically "charismatic." What I am not so sure about is how many would be willing to sign the BFM 2000. If we only worked with those who were willing to sign the BFM 2000, we would have very, very few ministry partners in Spain.

Daniel y Guy,

Aquí en España, a veces el término "renovado" se usa para describir lo que Guy aquí está llamando "charismatic." En inglés "renewed" no se entiende bien.

jps said...

In answer to Kevin, somewhere...

I would say that there is a distinction between Pentecostals and Charismatics in the area of tongues. Generally (note that word), Pentecostals say you must speak in tongues as evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Charismatics are generally (note that word, again) not as strict about that.

The next two are not necessarily so. Not all C/P's are Wesleyan/Arminian and many are not extreme dispensationalists, in fact some are not dispensationalist at all. Besides, many Baptists are Wesleyan/Arminian.

Guy, Thanks for the excellent post.

James

Daniel said...

Hi Guy!

Kevin, David y James han complementado de manera excelente acerca de la temática planteda en el post.
Como podrá ver, las denominaciones son bastante "variopintas"
¡Bendiciones para todos!
Un abrazo fraterno

Ross Garner said...

Hello Guy

I have been preaching Luke's gospel recently and the Pharisees really struggled with Jesus. There was enough about him that they recognised as genuine that they wanted to hear his preaching and they invited him to dinner. They could clearly see that he was able to do miracles. Some of them were probably amongst his early disciples after pentecost. Others however grieved the Holy Spirit by concluding that he was using demonic powers (Luke 11:14-28).

I hope your supporters will heed the message of Gamaliel (Paul's teacher) in Acts 5:39 that if this work is from God we must not try to oppose it or we will end up fighting against God!

I am much encouraged at present by the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit upon the life of one of our newer church members. She was studying history and realised that she had never really looked at the bible. As she read the living word of God she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. She turned up in church and joined our Alpha course. One day as she was praying and worshipping she found herself "speaking jibberish" and wondered what was happening. Without knowing this the following Sunday I felt moved by the Lord to explain about the gift of tongues, its place in private prayer, and its occasional place in public worship (1 Corin 14). She was greatly encouraged to know that her personal experience is validated by scripture. I was encouraged to know that she was not just copying other Christians, but was genuinely receiving this gift from the Lord.

Blessings to you all.

Ross

GuyMuse said...

Daniel,

Gracias por la aclaración. Ya sabré usar los términos "correctamente" cuándo viajo a Argentina para no ofender a nadie! Bendiciones a Ud. y a los suyos.

Kevin SWISA,

Thanks to you too for the clarifications between "pentecostal" and "baptistic". While what you write is helpful, the truth of the matter is that these issues have yet to come up amongst the hc here in G. Don't misunderstand me, we have PLENTY of problems in the various churches but most of them are sin related and not theological in nature. I guess that is why I have so much trouble distinguishing between "pentecostal" and "baptistic". They both have the same types of sin issues in their midst.

David,

That is interesting about the perceived reluctance of Spanish Baptists to sign the BF&M 2000. I would also agree that "renovados" might be a better term to apply to those I have described as "charismatic". Whatever you call them, there are sure plenty around!

James,

Like the others above, thanks for the clarifications. It seems, though, that many of our defintions for terms are continually changing and that what once defined something, is really no longer an accurate description. I asked in my post, "who defines these things?" and indeed it makes one wonder since there are so many understandings of the various terms we throw around in the evangelical world!

Ross,

Thanks for sharing about the way the Holy Spirit has been moving in your midst. It becomes a bit unnerving when things start to happen in church that are indeed Biblical, but are not part of our traditions! We say we are people of the Word, yet will go sometimes to great lengths to protect our church traditions; rather than simply allowing Scripture to speak for itself on many of these matters.

St. Jose said...

Hola hermano!
Noté que no había respondido su comment en mi blog. Disculpe usted.
Pero como dicen, "más vale tarde que nunca".
Soy cubano, pero no vivo en Cuba. Estoy en el exilio. Vivo en Chile.
Me alegro mucho que haya tenido el privilegio de visitar mi Isla. Oro a Dios para que todos, en el futuro, podamos ir y visitarla libremente.

¡Felicitaciones por su blog! Y muchísimas gracias por agregar el mío entre sus links.

Saludos, hermano.
Que Dios lo bendiga grandemente.

Tim Sweatman said...

Yet, to protect the integrity of our reporting only Baptist work to our S. Baptist constituency, many of these new works end up only being counted in Heaven by the Lord of the Harvest.

That's the only count that really matters. Personally, as a Southern Baptist I would love for our missionaries' reports to count ALL of the people who come to know Jesus and the churches that are planted as a result of the work of our missionaries, even if these new believers and churches are not "Baptist" or even "baptistic."

GuyMuse said...

Tim,

Amen, Tim. I would totally agree. Maybe someday we can mature enough as a denomination to see things as the Lord sees them. I think most S. Bapt. feel like you do, yet those in leadership positions do not for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Estimado Guido, estoy convencido que mas que bautistas, pentecostales, carismaticos o del nombre que nos pongamos encima, lo que necesitamos es cumplir el mandato de Cristo de ir y hacer discipulos. Esto es todo.

iglesiasaludable@netscape.net (David Fajardo)

GuyMuse said...

Hno. David,

Amén a tu comentario. Pero no todos lo entiendan de esa manera.

Gracias por tu visita. Hemos estado en Quito los últimos dias celebrando la Navidad junto con mis padres, Jaime y Patricia en la casa de mi hermana Johanna (Juanita), quién con su esposo y familia tambien son misioneros aquí en el Ecuador. Que gusto el haberte visto esta última vez que estuviste en Guayaquil. Felicidades a toda su familia, y que tengan un Feliz Año 2007.

Stephen M. Young II said...

Here in Brazil, I've been invited with enthusiasm to preach and teach in Assemblies of God and Four Square Gospel churches. I am not going to bother to count, but I'd say that probably half of my Christian friends here are Charismatic or Pentecostal.

Here in Brazil, there are also the Neo-Pentecostals who mix in Macumba (Brazilian voodoo) practices and give them Christian labels. We are very careful to differentiate between those who are syncretistic and those who are charismatic.

God bless.