Last year at our Pastors Conference we shared that God has opened a door for Sovereign Grace Ministries to plant a church in North Africa. We are currently in the process of giving additional training to the men who are leading this effort, as well as giving them an opportunity to visit Sovereign Grace churches to build a prayer support network and potentially recruit members to join the planting team. This is the second of three blog posts to answer some of the most frequent questions asked of team members during these visits.
Does this plan represent a shift in our missiology, and will we be recruiting other missionaries to send to unreached people groups?
Is it a shift? Well, yes and no. "Yes" in that it represents an additional shift of resources and attention to unreached people based upon our relationship with this team. But "no" in the sense that we have already taken other encouraging steps toward unreached people groups. We have done this through our financial support of certain ministries, our training and support of church planters in certain parts of India, and our work among unreached people in Burma through a Pastors College graduate named David.
Yes, it is a shift for us to take men without a history of leadership in our churches and send them to foreign soil. It is also a shift to send an American team into another country to plant a church, but it appears to us that God has ordained this relationship for a time such as this. And this venture doesn't represent a fundamental shift in our missiology; our missions strategy continues to emphasize these principles:
- Identifying and sending men who appear to have a proven gift in apostolic-type ministry
- Planting churches rather than sending individuals
- When possible, training indigenous leaders rather than transplanting those who don't know the language, would be perceived as cultural outsiders, and may face greater geographic, cultural, or linguistic barriers than an indigenous leader
- Maintaining association with a specific denomination or family of churches (in our case, Sovereign Grace Ministries), rather than interdenominational mission work
These same principles have informed our planned involvement in North Africa:
- The team leader appears to have a proven track record of planting and supporting churches in Asia and North Africa
- The existing team has requested a larger church-planting team than what they previously had in North Africa, so that they are not alone
- Certain team members are in many ways established in the culture and language of the country to which they're going
- These men have expressed their deep desire to be trained doctrinally, sent, and supported by Sovereign Grace Ministries
At the same time, we also want to be quick to acknowledge that having a primary strategy for missions does not mean we rule out everything that falls outside this strategy. Our primary strategy will be carried out most effectively with methodological flexibility, not methodological snobbery. If Christ is proclaimed, in that we rejoice. This is all the more true when it comes to working among unreached peoples and other situations where the ideal methodology cannot be perfectly maintained. When gifted leaders with years of experience and proven effectiveness in other nations are interested in partnering with us to plant churches in those nations, we are always interested in exploring the possibilities. (Spread the word!)