I haven’t posted for a while because of a 3-week overseas trip to Southeast Asia. I had the privilege of helping to facilitate a conference for missionary/church planters who are working mostly among unreached people groups. I will not mention any details about this conference because many of the participants work in parts of the world where their work, if known, could cause them great danger.
I have much I could share… and would love to tell the stories of these missionaries who are giving and risking much to serve the kingdom. They are awesome people!
However, in keeping with this blog’s theme, I want to, instead, talk about how exciting it is to see the relevance of the simple church / house church movement to cross-cultural settings. During our conference we grouped the missionaries into temporary “simple churches” to give them the opportunity to experience gatherings that are fully participatory and that do not require “professional” leadership. As they walked through these exercises, you could see the lights go on over and over as they realized the practicality of these types of churches multiplying on their respective mission fields. We repeatedly heard comments like these:
“This can really work where we are…”
“I never saw this before…”
Imagine laboring on a mission field to reach a handful of believers from a group of people where there have previously been no Christians. Then, having reached a group of people, the typical next step is, “Oh my gosh, it is time to get a church started.” At this point one can only imagine the time and energy that gets poured into pulling together all of the trappings of a traditional church: highly-trained pastor, building, worship leader, etc, etc, etc. With this in mind, it is easy to see why missionaries who are reaching unreached people groups are very excited about simple, reproducible churches.
It is, indeed, happening just this way in many parts of the world, not just China.
I received a note from Kevin Sutter, a YWAM church planting coach, who recently came back from an undisclosed country where there are very few Christians:
A major highlight that I am excited to tell you about was visiting a house church planted among an unreached Buddhist tribe, the [name of tribe deleted]. It was led by a woman who is only a year old in the Lord… It was a "text book example" of what we want to see reproduced [simple churches contextualized in indigenous cultures]--including a non-believing visitor who stayed on afterwards, asked good questions, received helpful answers and a... Bible. He said he'd come back next week. Later, a couple, who still think of themselves as Buddhist, asked if they could start a simple church in their home too! They like learning about Jesus from the Bible and seeing Him answer prayers. God is up to something!!
God is up to something!
Another recent email is from Robert Fitts whose book, The Church in the House, has been translated into Urdu in order to help support the 800 house churches that have sprung up in Pakistan.
I believe we have only begun to see what God is up to in our world.