Friday, 11 September 2009

Building Missionary Churches 8 - Conclusions and the future

We still have much to learn, but I sense that in coming days we may see a shift in relationship between so called para-church organisations and new church movements like Newfrontiers. While we still have much to learn from their vast experience, the relationship - I believe - will be one of drawing from that experience rather than sending our people out through such organisations. We will not serve the vision of the missionary organisation; they will partner with new church movements.

A vision of the future would be church planters sent out from our churches, overseen by apostolic ministry, while partnering with existing mission organisations for aspects of training in cultural awareness and language. But when it comes to church building, foundations, and leadership appointments, this would rest with the overarching apostolic ministry.

In conclusion, I believe we must continue to look to a biblical model of church which in no way separates local church life and mission. Mission-based para-church organisations have sprung into life in reaction to impotent local mission effectiveness, but the result has been to weaken churches rather than solving the problem, making the church more pastoral as a result. The lasting benefit of such mission is limited because when evangelistic fruit ends up in local churches, and these are weak, then weak disciples will be produced.

As David Watson says in I believe in Evangelism, “If we fail to build individuals into the corporate life of the church we have missed the purpose of evangelism; it is one thing to reap, it is another to disciple and add.”

The local church must place the Great Commission central to its agenda, allowing the apostolic ministry to lift our eyes to the harvest field, and must model truly an integrated strategy of reaching the lost, caring for the poor and training and sending leaders, with such generosity that many who have given up on the church will return. God is looking for such communities to emerge in our generation. Let’s build them, to His glory!