From Planting to Preparing Others to Plant
Einstein has famously stated: “If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had.” He was advocating that we change something in an equation if we want a different result. The corollary is this: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results".
As a mission department we are learning from our history. We know that on average it takes a Canadian missionary about 15 years to plant a church in a new culture. Every church planted is cause for praise to God. Every believer is celebrated in Heaven, and we join the party on earth. But if we continue our present rate of investment, which includes spiritual, financial, human and emotional factors, the return is outstripped by the rapid population growth on our planet. We have also learned that in many cases our Canadian missionaries become either lead or associate pastors instead of being the catalyzers sent to empower nationals.
Is there a better way? Can we change something in the process and increase our fruitfulness?
Our proposal is to formulate a model of church planting that releases ‘leaders’ much sooner. The process itself is designed to enable a leader’s development. Our current North American model is one of ‘corporate church,’ which requires our lead pastors to be trained usually to a postgraduate level. The frontloading of rigorous education in an institution is impossible in most of our current overseas situations, and unsustainable in more rapidly developing contexts.
Our new model proposes that we develop leaders through a process of discipleship in which leaders naturally emerge; a synthesis between Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18:21, (“…select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.”), and Paul’s advice to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 (“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”), and so on in ever-expanding concentric rings.
Changing from institutional-based learning meshes well with advances we are currently making in our LeadersFor materials. The LeadersFor program has successfully taught Bible-based leadership content and practice to existing and emerging leaders in many fields around the world. Resources from BILD provided the base materials for this program. But copyright issues and a change in delivery to overseas locations has led to our developing our own curriculum prepared by our own team of Fellowship academic practitioners. This combination: needing a new model and reforming LeadersFor is, in my opinion, a God-appointed intersection.
What can you expect to hear from Fellowship International in the near and distant future?
—Dave Marttunen is Director of Fellowship International.