Missionary Training?! What’s that about?

How was your vacation?

It really wasn’t much of a vacation. It was a weeklong training, actually. A requirement by my mission agency.

Training? What does missionary “training” look like?

These are great questions and we’re hearing a lot of them lately. Seems like good fuel for a bit of an update on our Essential Missions Components training and what God has been doing since then. Volumes have been written on church planting strategy and methods. At this time, I do not have much to add to that conversation, but I will present a bit of a synopsis on our training and what we’re learning in this area.

Our week began by laying down a basic philosophy of cross-cultural church multiplication. The key to this philosophy is developing contextually appropriate ministry forms in order to conduct biblical ministry functions most effectively. Three principles lay the foundation for this philosophy. “Ecosystem thinking” is the first principle. It means considering both the natural “God-made” dimensions (people, geography, vegetation and animals, climate, etc.) and the cultural “man-made” dimensions (customs, time orientations, economic systems and levels, political systems, education and literacy, arts, etc.) which ought to inform and affect church multiplication. The second principle is church forms and functions. When church-planting in a particular ecosystem, there are two questions which must be addressed. What does a church need to do? Meaning, What are the biblical purposes or functions of the church? And the second question; how does the church need to do it? In other words, what forms will the previously addressed functions take? If the function of the church is to meet and fellowship together, pray and study the Bible together, worship and serve together, go and make disciples and teach them; what do these functions look like? Who? What? Where? When? How? And lastly, the Three Lenses principle provides a system to evaluate church forms. First, the Scriptures contain the supra-cultural directives from God as to the purpose and function of the church. Next, lessons of history can help us determine what forms the functions of the church may take. We can learn from the Old and New Testament, church history and a given ecosystems history to avoid past failures and build on successes. Lastly, the third lens is context. What applications do these church functions have on this ecosystem at this particular time in history? In all these things, we must be reminded that functions dictate forms. Not the other way. And an ecosystem provides everything needed for a healthy church plant needs to grow. This means the Western church does not have all the solutions to all of the problems. The church is multi-cultural. It is supra-cultural. May we not forget the vision John was able to see and recorded in Revelation 7:

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with pal branches in their hands. They were shouting out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (verses 9-10)

Since we attended EMC, God has been extremely active in our evangelism and discipleship relationship. We continue to pray that we would open our eyes to the needs in lives around us and that we wouldn’t miss them. Another discipleship group has formed around prayer and bible study and our small group ministry is preparing to kick off after the summer break. We will be focusing on how the gospel in us should impact our neighborhoods and communities. We have gained several new monthly supporters and booked several more churches for this fall! God is busy in each aspect of our lives and we praise him! Our request for prayer remain the same as He continues to bless and provide for us.

  1. May God be glorified and His name made great through how He provides. May no man take credit and all declare this was the hand of God preparing a way.
  2. May God be glorified in the lives of those He has placed around us – both in evangelism and discipleship relationships. Please do not allow us to miss one soul you’ve placed in our lives for us to love as You have loved us.
  3. May God be glorified by providing our remaining needs and ministry partners that we may proclaim His name in South Africa and train others to do the same!

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Our next benchmark is 85{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2}. Lord willing, if He provides 85{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} of our committed monthly support by November, we could attend our final training. Field Prep Seminar is offered the first week of November and is 10 days. Praise God that our Outfit and Passage requirement is nearly 70{94115f3f0ce78e17ae6fab5620d08dd86260dffed70bcd9a5a0ccd2442dba6d2} fulfilled. Our monthly need is now only around $3,000/monthly! God provides! If you or your church would like more information on our ministry, please reach out to us!

Nate and Lauren

nlbell@abwe.cc