Global South

Zero dollar church planting

IMG_2743.JPG I'm still coming terms with the reality that Nigeria has a current population of 170 million people. High fertility rates mean there will be 300 million Nigerians within the next 25 years.

Sub-saharan Africa is in the midst of a population explosion that will continue for at least the next fifty years. Even tiny Liberia, has doubled its population since 1995 despite two horrific civil wars, the last of which finished in 2003. Everywhere you go there are children and young people.

Do we really think that our current methods and funding strategies can stretch far enough, and move quickly enough to reach Africa's millions?

Jesus sent his disciples out, two by two, with empty wallets. The resources are in the harvest.

Zero dollar church planting

IMG_2743.JPG I'm still coming terms with the reality that Nigeria has a current population of 170 million people. High fertility rates mean there will be 300 million Nigerians within the next 25 years.

Sub-saharan Africa is in the midst of a population explosion that will continue for at least the next fifty years. Even tiny Liberia, has doubled its population since 1995 despite two horrific civil wars, the last of which finished in 2003. Everywhere you go there are children and young people.

Do we really think that our current methods and funding strategies can stretch far enough, and move quickly enough to reach Africa's millions?

Jesus sent his disciples out, two by two, with empty wallets. The resources are in the harvest.

West Africa

IMG_2580.jpg

One thing travel does to me is remind me of the magnitude of the task of discipling the nations. Nigeria is country of 170 million people. Half of them are muslim. One in five Africans on the planet is a Nigerian.

Africa is an immense continent. If we begin with the end in mind we just don’t have the people, the money or the time to reach Africa with the methods of the past. Whatever methods we use must be low cost, simple, reproducing, and indigenous. Africans — dependent on the Word and the Spirit — must reach Africa.

The good news is that we already have some impressive disciple making movements in Africa. I’ve just finished reading Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale, an account of movements of muslim background believers in West Africa.

When someone labels these movements in Africa as “half a mile wide and half an inch deep” I like to ask them whether they are really describing the modern-postmodern church in the affluent West.

These movements take discipleship seriously. They don’t disciples converts, they disciple to conversion. Discipleship leads to conversion and continues beyond it. Simple groups gathered around the Word, learning to obey Jesus.

The case studies are African, but the principles are universal. The same radical dependency on the Word and the Spirit is yielding fruit all around the world.

West Africa

IMG_2580.jpg

One thing travel does to me is remind me of the magnitude of the task of discipling the nations. Nigeria is country of 170 million people. Half of them are muslim. One in five Africans on the planet is a Nigerian.

Africa is an immense continent. If we begin with the end in mind we just don’t have the people, the money or the time to reach Africa with the methods of the past. Whatever methods we use must be low cost, simple, reproducing, and indigenous. Africans — dependent on the Word and the Spirit — must reach Africa.

The good news is that we already have some impressive disciple making movements in Africa. I’ve just finished reading Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale, an account of movements of muslim background believers in West Africa.

When someone labels these movements in Africa as “half a mile wide and half an inch deep” I like to ask them whether they are really describing the modern-postmodern church in the affluent West.

These movements take discipleship seriously. They don’t disciples converts, they disciple to conversion. Discipleship leads to conversion and continues beyond it. Simple groups gathered around the Word, learning to obey Jesus.

The case studies are African, but the principles are universal. The same radical dependency on the Word and the Spirit is yielding fruit all around the world.

Nigeria next

nigeria_2382356b.jpg

Tonight I head off for West Africa — Nigeria and Liberia. I'll spend a week in Nigeria where just two days ago a bomb ripped through a Catholic church killing eight and injuring 100 people.

The militant Islamist group  Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), is most likely responsible.

Author Rupert Shortt asks, What if the roles were reversed?

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

read on . . .

Nigeria next

nigeria_2382356b.jpg

Tonight I head off for West Africa — Nigeria and Liberia. I'll spend a week in Nigeria where just two days ago a bomb ripped through a Catholic church killing eight and injuring 100 people.

The militant Islamist group  Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), is most likely responsible.

Author Rupert Shortt asks, What if the roles were reversed?

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

read on . . .

Church Planting Movements: A case study from India

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I met with Rodrick Gilbert this week. He leads a movement of over 20,000 churches and 200,000 people in northern India.

You can't believe everything you hear about India, or any field where there are reports of exponential growth, but Rod checks out. He's the real deal.

That's why I did most of the listening. Here was someone I could learn from. Here are seven things Rod taught me.

  1. A work of God. The movement began in 1990. Leading up to that time Rodrick was deeply aware of his lack of fruit in making disciples and planting churches. God led him to an older pastor who mentored him in waiting on God. The birth of the movement was a byproduct of deeper intimacy and surrender.
  2. Multiplying small groups and simple churches. Rodrick saw the need to do evangelism in the slums that led to the formation of discipleship groups and simple churches led by lay people. He learned to mobilise new believers for ministry.
  3. Missionary band. Rodrick has 98 paid workers ($150 per month). Everyone else in the movement is a local volunteer. His team function as a mobile missionary band rather than settled local pastors. Small groups and local churches are led by lay people. The worker move among them opening up new locations and training the volunteers.
  4. Simple methods. They use simple methods for evangelism, making disciples and forming churches. For instance, for making disciples, Rodrick has adapted George Patterson's Seven Commands of Christ.
  5. Life-long learner. Rodrick is willing to learn from anyone. He's a keen student of Church Planting Movement principles. He has a variety of different people who speak into his development as a leader and into the development of the movement. Curtis Sergeant of the IMB has been a mentor and sounding board in applying CPM principles.
  6. Mobilization. Just 98 workers are responsible to mobilise 200,000 local believers to reach their communities. This movement would not be growing unless this was a high value. Ordinary people take the gospel to their relational worlds. New regions are reached when local believers take the gospel to their relatives in unreached villages.
  7. Beginning with the end in mind. Rodrick sees 1.1 billion people, in 4,365 people groups, living in 600,000 villages. The endvision is what drives him and his movement. They begin with the end in mind and then work back to their action plans. They are agitated by the lostness of India.

If you're in Melbourne Australia you can hear Rodrick speak this week at the Crossway missions conference. I'll post links to the podcasts when they are available.