Seeing mature, reproducing churches established
What is needed most desperately around the world today is local churches with a vision and an avenue available to equip their members to reach out effectively with the Gospel, to see more churches planted and growing on to maturity. We want to communicate that need however we can and help workers go out who will not be satisfied with efforts within an area or people group until everything possible, in God’s strength, has been done to see churches established that have this kind of vision and capability.
There are perhaps almost as many different approaches as there are teams out there seeking to respond to the needs of people groups with limited or no access to the Gospel. Over the last couple of centuries of the Church’s efforts to go to these groups, a great many ideas, plans, trends and programs have been tried. Each year, new innovations or at least new variations on older strategies surface. Some become widely accepted and influence the overall thinking of missiology, while others quickly fade into oblivion. Certainly some of the things that have been tried are commonly judged to have been successful. On what basis would we judge whether any given part of the Church’s efforts have been effective or successful? Is it numbers of converts, ordained leaders and buildings? How many is enough? Translation; what quality, how much is it used and for what? If it is spiritual life, how is that measured? How about longevity – how many years, or generations?Considering these questions has led us as a team to look for some solid ground from which to determine what is actually ‘effective’ or ‘successful’. The journey for us has been to try to understand what God desires to see accomplished in a given individual or group. It has allowed us to look at many different efforts around the world, from the past and present, and to ask relevant questions, which help us to assess which strategies are truly effective in seeing an individual or group grow on to maturity.
The W.I.L.D. (Word. Identity. Life. Discipleship) framework that is outlined below is designed to help our understanding of how Truth produces life, growth and fruit, and to help to guide us as we share Truth and plant churches. It takes the approach of considering each point with a particular person or a group in mind, and is in the form of questions.
• Are they able to access the Bible in a form that clearly and faithfully communicates God’s revelation to them?
• Are they having God’s Word presented to them in a way that allows it to enter and engage their hearts at a worldview level?
• Are they learning to give God’s Word its proper place and authority?
• Are they growing in their ability to correctly understand God’s Word as His complete Narrative, with Jesus Christ as the heart of the story and its interpretive key?
• Are they increasingly able to make use of God’s Word as He intends for His children and His Church?
• Are they increasingly clear about – and able to articulate – their true identity from God’s perspective?
• Are they learning to see their story embedded in the larger Narrative of the Church, stretching back to Pentecost and forward to Christ’s return?
• Are they growing in their understanding of the bonds that unite them to the global/local Body under Christ as its Head?
• Are they learning to view others according to truth, and rejecting the divisions, biases and tensions that often define the wider society?
• Are they growing in their understanding of how to appropriately represent the Lord in their current spheres of contact and in others He might lead them to be involved in?
• Are they experiencing a deepening relationship with Jesus, learning to depend more completely on Him in different areas of their lives, and gradually seeing their values and behaviour change as a result?
• Are they gaining clarity about the true purpose for which they exist, and are they increasingly able to identify those things that hinder their life in Christ?
• Are they increasingly able to make good decisions based on their understanding of God’s local and global purposes, and to use their time, money and other resources accordingly?
• Are they learning to shape the form of what they do to serve whatever function they are convinced will lead to the fulfillment of God’s objectives?
• Are they growing in their commitment to reproducing the life they have in Christ, are they equipped with the resources and skills to do so, and are they prioritizing opportunities where there is real need and hunger?
• Are they seeing all other ties, loyalties and commitments being increasingly defined by their primary relationship; disciples of their Master, Jesus Christ?
• Are they being helped to apply the general truth from God’s Word to their own specific real-life situations?
• Are they able to access regular, godly input and genuine friendships that intentionally help them along as they follow Jesus in the walk of faith?
• Are they being encouraged to function in the areas in which God has gifted and given them abilities so they can develop in their service to Him and His Body?
• Do they have access to defined pathways that offer Bible-based resources, practical instruction and relational discipleship to adequately equip them to serve the church locally and globally?