For me, the most profound statement I read on planting churches this week was “I robbed them of the thrill of looking at each other and saying, “We are now the church here!”[1] It is better to guide and help a group become the church than to do it for them.  Cross-cultural workers certainly have their work cut out for them, and only the Holy Spirit is going to be able to equip them sufficiently for the job.  To give up modern comforts available in the United States to arrive on a foreign mission field with the goal of discipling a group of only three or four members could be discouraging.  However, George Patterson explains that it is this foundational group that will reproduce disciples among their people group.[2] Cross-cultural workers should choose a specific people group or community through study, prayer, talking with other missionaries, and seeking God for guidance.[3]  To focus on one people group and get to know them relationally, understanding their culture and folk religion by doing life with them opens the door to share the Gospel.  As a woman, asking them to teach me how they prepare their food and complete chores or to teach me one of their songs, dances, or children’s games comes to mind as opportunities for building a friendship and learning their local style.  This can all be incorporated into the Gospel message later.  Finally, Patterson explained its best to start out with teaching loving obedience to Jesus’ basic commands because the more you require, the harder it is for a church to reproduce more churches.[4] The basics of discipling and church planting should include: “repent and believe, be baptized and continue in the new life it initiates, love God and neighbor in a practical way, celebrate the Lord’s supper, pray, give, and disciple others.”[5] I find myself asking if these same principles would apply to an established church body that needs a fresh revelation of missions.  Maybe before established churches can be successful in planting churches in other countries, we need to make sure as a body that we are living out the life change that following these steps will bring.  A lot of Christians attend church, but I don’t see too many that disciple others and move from glory to glory in the way a new life in Christ is meant to be.  This gives me a new understanding of how to pray for missions as well as our local churches.  Blessings, Sharon

[1] George Patterson, “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, 4th ed., ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 635.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] George Patterson, “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, 4th ed., ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 639.

[5] Ibid.