Carl Medearis says it is time to stop evangelizing and start talking about Jesus! (Why Evangelicals Should Stop Evangelizing, CNN) He argues that Jesus transcends all religions. Jesus calls people to follow him and grow in their relationship with him while still in their mother culture and religious environment. Commenting on his article Floyd McClung says, ‘Church planting movements are exploding on our planet today, and one of the reasons is church planters and disciple makers have learned the power of a changed person remaining where they are to influence others for Jesus.’ In their context, Floyd says, ‘they become bridges to Jesus.’ ([email protected] sally.com)
The opposite to staying in their context when they come to faith is referred to as ‘extraction’. ‘The belief behind this practice is that people will fail spiritually if they stay where they are, they are too weak; and they will compromise theologically, they are too ignorant,’ says Floyd McClung. Floyd and his wife Sally have a lot of experience in incarnational mission – having worked in the drug dens of Afghanistan and on the streets of Amsterdam, and now in the settlement towns of South Africa.
‘We saw prostitutes and drug addicts stay where they were, grow to be powerful men and women of faith, and lead many others out of their addictions and brokenness,’ Floyd says. They didn’t continue in their sin, but they stayed in relationship with those they knew and loved, their family and friends. It was hard for people, true enough, but people developed a more mature faith grounded in the culture where they came to faith. It is sad to see people lose contact with family and friends and adopt a new “Christian” culture that cuts them off from the very people God wants them to influence.’ Floyd continues, ‘We wouldn’t (ask) a banker or politician to leave their culture and vocation if they came to faith. Why? Because we believe God is big enough in this person to help them overcome temptations of greed or power and live faithfully as a follower of Jesus where they are. Yet, we immediately assume a Muslim or street person must leave their life situation.’
Perhaps we make our faith into a religion that we want others to join, rather than a relationship with Jesus Christ.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 29 July 2011
Planting in Atlanta’s Poorest Neighborhoods: Rustin and Stacy Sweeney (and their three children) were living in an affluent area, attending church each week. But something was missing and they were tired of ‘church as usual.’ So they embarked on a journey of prayer with an intense search of scripture. They became convinced God was calling them to minister in the poorest neighborhood. So in 2007 they moved into a low-income, crime-ridden apartment complex in Atlanta—with the nighttime music of gunfire quite common. In the first weeks their old jeep was stolen and returned three times. They run all sorts of community activities: a community garden, Bible study groups, backpacking/camping trips, waffle breakfasts for all the apartment-dwellers etc. Their home is constantly open, with people coming in and out, and they’re always sharing meals. Gary Krause, world coordinator for Adventist Missions visited one of their neighbors—a single mother. ‘The only time I let my son out to play is when I see Rustin’s kids out there,’ she says. ‘Then I know it’s safe.’ ‘Each day is an adventure,’ writes Gary. ‘After I visited, Rustin chased down two guys who had stolen bikes from neighborhood kids.’ ‘I’ve set up Tuesday night Bible studies with one of them,’ Rustin told Gary later. ‘That’s how we meet people in our neighborhood!’
The beginnings of a Simple Church: ‘For over a year now the Lord has been impressing us to be more available to Him,’ say Morgan & Sarah Buwu. ‘We felt God leading us to start a Simple Church in our home – and to connect with unchurched people.’ –
We have been part of one lady’s life who was terminally ill through alcoholism. Her local hospital had given up on her, so we encouraged the family not to give up on her but to trust God. Through some known contacts we arranged with the family to be admitted outside London. Amazingly, she recovered and returned home where we continued to visit and develop a deeper friendship with her. Later we prayed, worshipped and held Bible studies with her twice a week, as well as giving her as much support as we could. She has since stopped drinking, and now it’s over a year since she last had a drink of alcohol! She is now part of our group and we have Sabbath worship with her in our Simple Church.
She has introduced two of her former drinking friends to the group and these are now part of our lives. We help one another; we pray and worship together as well as have Bible studies. One of the ladies has shown so much progress with her alcohol problem that she has been moved from a sheltered accommodation to a bedsit and we are all now having a good time furnishing the place. She has promised us all a meal and for the Simple Church to come in her home and worship one Sabbath when it’s all done! These are people who were telling us in the beginning that they were atheists saying, ‘I do not do God and the Bible’! We continue to support and pray with her as she is desperately looking for a job and this has not been easy, having been been on State benefits for a long time.
We have also worked with a newly married couple that we met – helping them plan their marriage and wedding. The husband is not a believer – his mother beliefs in witchcraft influenced him; the wife is of Japanese origin and a devout Buddhist. We have had Bible Studies together – but the husband has found a job in Belgium and they have moved there. We are in touch with them and we hope to visit them soon.
We hold weekly Wednesday Bible reading with a couple who have a distant religious background – but are keen to learn and read the Bible with us. ‘We have become close friends with them and we pray that God will continue to lead us for His glory through our Simple Church,’ Sarah and Morgan say.
See www.newchurchlife.com for more stories!
OIKOS Melbourne West Simple Church Seminar with Bessie Pereira: Sat Aug 13 (10.00 am – 4.00 pm) @ “Beth Tephillah” 55 Park Crescent, Williamstown VIC: For those interested in new expressions of church and networking with others doing it. To book call Mal or Di Dow on 03 9397 1087 or email [email protected] Lunch: bring finger food to share.
DIALOGUE Conference – Ordinary People, Extraordinary God: Aug 27-28, 2011 at the the Paynesville Community Centre, The Esplanade Paynesville, VIC Australia. Bookings:03 5156 0065 or [email protected]
Simple Church at Home: For more information go to www.simplechurchathome.com.
Training for Trainers (T4T) now has a website: http://t4tonline.org/ : T4T is a training model for multiplying disciples and churches. It was first pioneered in China where they’ve seen 80,000 churches started and 2 million baptized.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS