Freeing Cross-Cultural Church Planting With New Testament Essentials -- By: J. Scott Horrell
BSac 174:694 (April-June 2017) p. 210
Freeing Cross-Cultural Church Planting With New Testament Essentials
J. Scott Horrell is Professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and Adjunct Professor at Seminário Teológico Centroamericano (SETECA) (Guatemala), Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (Amman), and Center for Leadership Development (Maputo, Mozambique).
This article will also be published in Churches on Mission: God’s Grace Abounding to the Nations, Evangelical Missiological Society series number 25 (2017).
Certain kinds of preconceived ecclesiologies undermine effective cross-cultural church planting as well as the growth of existing churches. A renewed focus on the church as a decentralized form of the kingdom of God frees missionaries and indigenous leaders to adapt forms and organize in ways that encourage the vital New Testament functions of the church: worship, teaching, fellowship, and outreach.
Missionaries today are aware that much of what has been exported or repeated in missional church planting remains freighted with North Atlantic and traditional institutionalism that is often peripheral to New Testament church essentials. Ecclesial structures and ways of doing church have been perpetuated by well-intentioned second- and third-generation leaders who replicate these forms—forms through which they themselves responded to the gospel in years past. For all of us, loyalties to particular ecclesiologies (if not denominations) lie embedded in our experience with the God we love. Yet what worked well in one generation and culture does not necessarily transfer to another. In church planting, a living ecclesiology is as vital to missions as vigorous missions is to ecclesiology.
BSac 174:694 (April-June 2017) p. 211
One group of pastors in São Paulo, Brazil, lamented that the concept of church in their own congregations—said to be typical of tens of thousands of congregations around the world—centers in four images: a church building (or “temple”); Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath”; the worship service (the more powerful the better); and the full-time pastor (“the man of God” and mediator).1 In the mind of most believers, if one of these four standards is lacking, then one does not truly have a church.
Many in evangelical missions agree that these kinds of preconceived ecclesiologies undermine effective cross-cultural church planting as well as the growth of existing churches. Yet a glance around the world suggests that most church planters, whether indigenous or cross-cultural, repeat traditional or preconceived concepts of what ...
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