Tuesday, February 1

Why we have not seen CPM in Ecuador

There are at least two reasons why we have not seen a Church Planting Movement (CPM) in Ecuador. Both have to do with baptism.

1) only recognized licensed, credentialed pastors can baptize
2) only sinners who have first straightened out their moral lives can be baptized

Closely related to these two, would be a third reason:

3) pastors/leaders unwilling to release those God has entrusted to them as legitimate Jesus-commissioned disciples to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach.

In the cases where believers are released to go fishing, they are instructed to bring everything they catch back home where the newly caught fish are made to look everyone else.

In my book--or my understanding of God's Book--all these are extra-biblical requirements that go beyond what Scripture actually teaches. It wouldn't be so bad, except these beliefs are keeping us from effectively bringing in the harvest.

Obviously, though, my understanding is flawed in some way because 19 out of 20 pastors/leaders we deal with hold to all three positions and no amount of talk, dialog or Bible Study seems to change their mind. If I sound a bit frustrated, it is because I am a bit frustrated!

Ecuador is a harvest field. There are few places on the planet as responsive to the Gospel as this country. Yet, the greatest barriers to bringing in this harvest are not political, any lack of resources, or even other religions. We are the problem! We who profess to be Christ followers are the dam holding back the rising river waters.

Yes, I believe, sooner or later the Lord of the River will do one of two things: the rising waters will eventually build so much pressure that the dam bursts; or, the river will take on a new course around the dam.

Right now neither of these two alternatives have taken place. But eventually something MUST give way. I guess I am the eternal optimist and am holding out for both to happen. I just hope it is within my life time!

Thank you for pausing a minute and praying for God's Spirit to do something in our midst that has nothing to do with any of us, or the dam. Something that only God can do to bring this nation unto himself.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHAT STANDS IN THE WAY? Barriers and Hindrances to experiencing a Church Planting Movement

1.Failing to wait on the Lord.
2.Not being full of the Holy Sprit.
3.Neglecting the ministry of prayer.
4.Neglecting the ministry of the Word of God.
5.Not sharing the GOOD NEWS.
6.Hypocrisy, not having a sincere faith.
7.Holding to strict, legalistic practices or customs.
8.A failure to talk things out when there are problems.
9.A failure to see God at work in a particular situation.
10.Not developing home grown leadership.
11.Grieving the Holy Spirit.
12.Quenching the Holy Spirit.
13.Showing favoritism.
14.Fighting against the purposes and activities of God.
15.Emphasizing things of human origin.
16.Not having a heart that is right before God.
17.Perverting the right ways of the Lord.
Based on Luke’s second book ACTS.

Esteban

BParsons said...

This post really struck a nerve. In fact,it's hard for me to avoid resentment and bitterness which I have to confess as I remember my last three years in Ecuador. In the last year, I refused to baptize anyone and told the churches to select people from their own groups to baptize. I refused to teach or hold "baptismal classes," as I did not see such a mandate in the New Testament. We often baptized people, and then later got them to the civil service office to be married. I never saw the logic of making the father leave the house for a "respectable" time until we could "marry" them in a church, and then baptize them.

Through one of the church planters I trained, I delivered a Bible to the "pastor" of a new work on the Cayapas River. He had accepted the Lord, and was the only one in a community of about 75 who could read. He and the church planter led about fifteen of them to the Lord, and then he was baptized, and then helped baptize the others. On the next trip, I sent "communion" supplies -- plastic cups and mini-Ritz crackers, and he observed the Lord's Supper with those and an additional 20 he had baptized.

For these things, I heard reports all the way from Chile about the "mess" I was making, and the trouble I had caused. My greatest resistance was not from the gangs I faced, the unwed couples I counseled, or the general riff-raff of the cities; it was from the established churches, the pastors, and yes, some missionaries.

I continue to ask God to forgive me of my bitterness toward those who should have been co-workers but were not. The last time I heard, the church on the Cayapas river was still there, and the last church planter I talked to by phone assured me that the works his church had started were still alive.

I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment. I am grateful you are there, in the largest city in Ecuador, training laborers for the harvest. You are included in my prayers.

GuyMuse said...

Esteban,

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with the list you share. Many of these barriers and hindrances to CPM are certainly part of our reality as well. But I keep going back to the 2-3 I list in the blog, because they are ones that I believe the Enemy is specifically using here in Ecuador to dam the river (pun intended!) I can fully relate to Bruce's post right above and the things he experienced the last three years here in Ecuador. We still live with these things and get bombarded weekly for taking a stand.

BTW, I like this list. Do you have it in Spanish, and do you have the chapter/verse for each of the 17 points?

GuyMuse said...

Bruce,

Your comment above struck a raw nerve in me as well! What you write about, My greatest resistance was not from the gangs I faced, the unwed couples I counseled, or the general riff-raff of the cities; it was from the established churches, the pastors, and yes, some missionaries... It is so true. Our greatest resistance is not all the hardships, or messy people that are coming to the Lord, it is the established church. I am really getting tired of it and have begun speaking out more than I have ever done in the past. What we are finding is that there are many so-called "lay" people who heartily agree, but if they want to stay in the good graces of their churches, they have to stifle their convictions and go along with the traditions. But more and more we are seeing that once people's eyes are opened, they are less willing to accept the status quo on these matters, and are beginning to take a stand as well. I could write a book on this subject, but as Esteban lists above, many of these issues are spiritual in nature. We have to do his #1 which is "wait on the Lord". I am waiting, but confess that I am waiting impatiently! :)

Anonymous said...

Guido,

God showed me these things in 1998(while living in Cuenca) after reading, and re-reading the books of Acts. Sorry but a long time ago I lost the verse by verse proof texts.

God is fully capable of taking care of gatekeepers-and that is just what many pastors and missionaries have been and sadly enough continue to be. It is a DANGEROUS thing to be a gatekeeper. May we walk in the Spirit and not get in the way of his purposes and ways of working.
Feel free to make your own Spanish translation.
Esteban

GuyMuse said...

Esteban,

It is indeed a DANGEROUS thing to be a gatekeeper. Your use of that term brings to memory an experience I had a few years ago with a gatekeeper that was an eye-opener for me. Without telling the story here, I remember thinking at the time, maybe we ought to be doing more with the gatekeepers. As long as someone stands guard in front of the door, there is little chance we can impact or influence those behind the door. Good point.

Stephen M. Young II said...

I can agree with this. In fact, when we started baptizing in large numbers in a local baptist church... talk started in a negative way. They felt we were baptizing haphazardly.

Kevin, Somewhere in Southern America said...

Change the name from CPM (church planting movement) to a spiritual awakening, or a movement of God, and I will partially agree.

I think the first brother who commented captured the essence of the lack of a spiritual awakening. There is no revival in the church. We are studying Fresh Encounter in our church during Sunday Morning Bible Study. Our people are learning obedience and submission.

Have a blessed evening, Guido.

kds

GuyMuse said...

Stephen,

The argument that is used here against what you are saying happened there is that if we start allowing everyone to baptize then next thing you know we'll have 5-yr olds baptizing and that without limits this just opens the door for chaos and disorderly conduct. Problem with that argument though is that, 1) I have never seen it abused in this way, 2) isn't this what Christ commanded ALL his disciples to be doing?

GuyMuse said...

Kevin,

No problem with terms Spiritual Awakening/Movement of God, etc. The same issues are (IMHO) what is keeping revival from coming as well. Let us know how the Fresh Encounter goes with your church. I understand it is in Spanish, and might be a good resource to begin using with some of our more established churches and pastors. Bendiciones.

Dion said...

I started praying for you before I even got to the end of this post. I think what frustrates me the most about what I see in churches in Latin America is that they follow what their original missionaries taught more than what the scriptures teach. I just see the mals of our churches here in North America repeated with great fervor by our Latino sisters and brothers becoming even more detrimental. Thus the need to find and plant in virgin soil.
Stay strong my friend a CPM is possible in Ecuador, and even in the USA, we have to keep praying them into existence.

GuyMuse said...

Dion,

You bring out an excellent point for all of us by pointing out how very important it is that we teach AND MODEL what Scripture says from Day-1. Once the pattern is set, it is very difficult to change.

Most of our work is focused on discipling new believers who do not have any kind of evangelical background. These are tons easier to work with than trying to train established church believers to change what they know and have always believed.

Thanks for the word of encouragement.

jeremy said...

I agree with much of what you've said here, Guy. There is a certain mentality of "bring them here" among established leaders. In part, we have struggled with this as well, though not in relation to baptism.

We're getting ready to baptize some, and I don't plan to ask anyone's permission. I also don't plan to baptize them myself. Our pattern in the past was for us to baptize the first in a church group, then each successive person was baptized by the last one dunked. It made it more personal, and more involved.

We are still waiting for the hammer to fall from the Ecuadorian church here where we meet, waiting for them to say that what we are doing is wrong. Nothing so far.
jeremy

GuyMuse said...

Jeremy,

Your actions and attitudes are those of only about 1 in 50,000 here in the country. Just imagine what could take place if God´s people understood that it is Jesus who has already authorized and has all authority in Heaven and earth to GO, MAKE DISCIPLES, BAPTIZE, AND TEACH. I dare say, with this kind of release of God's people, we would see Ecuador come to Christ in a matter of months.

Connie said...

Guy, I interpreted your original comments as being a result of the mentality of the Ecuadorian Christians themselves and agree with you from that standpoint. I remember one of our frustrations near Cuenca was in trying to get one of the long-time pastors to "let go" of some of his members who were fully capable of starting new works in and around their homes. Yet, he wanted the membership inside his very nice building to grow and grow.
We also saw how the long-time Catholic mindset influenced the whole "you have to be authorized and credentialed to pastor" notion.
If there was going to be a CPM in Ecuador, I would think it would happen in Guayaquil given your tremendous efforts to train church planters. But, that's just me . . .

GuyMuse said...

Connie,

That mindset is entrenched all over the country and is one of the reasons why in such an open country to the Gospel we have yet to see a real CPM take place. All the pieces of the puzzle are here, but there are, as Esteban says above, GATEKEEPERS who think that everything has to go through them, and they have been given charge of the sheep. I am not doubting their sincerity or commitment to the Lord, but it is that kind of gatekeeping mindset that is a detriment to seeing this nation come to the feet of Jesus, or at least that is my opinion.

Mlabus said...

Guy, had you stayed in Mindo a bit longer I could have shown you the beginning of a Church Planting Movement in the region. It's a beautiful site.

GuyMuse said...

Miguel,

Would love to visit with you and see what the Lord is doing in your midst. Definitely next time we are in your part of the country, we will do so!

Aussie John said...

Guy,

A loud amen to your words!

All of what you describe is true of the church scene here, and was my continual frustration during my years in "official" ministry.

Even baptisms in rivers and creeks was regarded with a jaundiced eye. "Correct procedure" is far more important.

Darrell said...

Guy I know your purpose here is to shed some light on this problem and not to complain. So please don't take my comment wrong.

When my team and I read this we all emailed each other and said we wished we had it so good!

Take heart my friend it could be much worse!

GuyMuse said...

Aussie John and Darrell,

Thanks to you both for your comments. What I am beginning to see is that there are a few brave souls who are speaking out prophetically about many of these things. In a sense there is a new reformation underway. It still hasn't gotten its legs, but at least there is a voice that is beginning to be heard. As Ed Stetzer says,
People will not change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
I think we are close to this happening on a much larger scale!

Evangelism Coach said...

Can I just say Amen? I've seen this in other countries I have worked in. I feel with you.

billkarleen said...

In the churches with whom we work here in Guayaquil, we have a pretty standard practice. The one who evangelizes the person is the one who baptizes them. From the beginning I refused to baptize anyone that I did not evangelize. So we have had young people, men and women doing the baptizing. We have had Christian young people baptize their parents. Sometimes a parent wants me to talk to their son or daughter about Christ and I flatly refuse to do it. I teach the parent to evangelize their children. Anyway the parent is the young person's immediate spiritual authority. It is great to see the smile on the parent's face the moment they baptize their child!

GuyMuse said...

Evangelism Coach,

Thanks for the empathy. What other countries have you seen this in?

Bill,

Wow, if more would follow your example--or rather, be "allowed" to follow your example we'd be over that first hurdle I write about in no time! I don't know where this whole matter got derailed here in Ecuador, but it is nice to hear the exceptions!

Strider said...

Keep fighting the good fight Guy! Remember the best way to defeat the darkness is to light a candle. Don't tell them they are on the wrong road, demonstrate the right one!

GuyMuse said...

Strider,

Thanks for adding your voice to the dialog. Yesterday I was listening to an audio book where the author makes reference to Paul's address to the Athenians, start with what they know and understand, then build bridges that can take them to where they need to go...ovebeap

The Parousia Network Cyber Cafe said...

This is why you blog, Guy. To generate excellent conversations like this one. Keep it up!

GuyMuse said...

Maurice,

I can also say that on many occasion something you have written has caused me to stop and reflect. We are going on 9 years now using a piece I got from something you wrote many years ago. It has generated literally dozens of hours of conversation over the years. I will be using it again tomorrow morning with yet another church who are expressing interest in planting house churches. Want to know what the piece is? Write me and I'll email you a copy (in Spanish, of course!)