Our Goals for an Indigenous Church Planting Movement
In accordance with Matthew 28:18-20, General Baptist International Ministries (GBIM) is committed to the New Testament philosophy of indigenous church planting through soul-winning, discipleship, Bible study, and the organization of churches that govern, support, and reproduce themselves.
WE AFFIRM THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:
- As the Gospel is universal, it will grow in any cultural soil and is not dependent upon American forms, structures, worship styles, leadership or financing in order to take root and grow.
- Churches must always be free, in Christ, to express their faith in ways that are faithful to the Bible and relevant to the cultural context.
- It is impossible for a church to obtain valid growth if captive to someone other than the Lord for its ultimate authority.
- Intentional efforts must be made to where God-called mature indigenous leaders are empowered to lead these ministries.
- The cross-cultural worker must interact in such a way that leaders are developed without creating undue dependency. As progress is made it is essential that the national worker increase in the eyes of the people as the cross-cultural worker moves further toward the background. While supporting national leaders with financial gifts may at first appear to build their prestige it is in fact built on a false foundation that cannot be sustained independently.
- We recognize the unique nature of institutions that depend on various forms of support whether they are first world or third world.
A. Indigenous Church – Of the people, by the people.
- We minister to people in the means, manner and methods that communicate truth within the context of their culture (1 Co. 9:19-23). This results in true worship and brings glory to God. (1 Co. 10:31)
- The parameters of the indigenous church are built upon the precepts of Scripture. We are bound to walk within the boundaries set forth in God’s Word (Is. 8:20). However, it is important to recognize we bring much tradition from our own culture. Cultural traditions must not be mistaken for “thus saith the Lord.” We must be flexible.
B. Self-Supporting Church
- Though the missionary may initially provide funding to begin the church, the long-term goal is to wean the growing body of believers from financial assistance.
- Attainable goals, that can be met by faith, need to be set for the congregation. (Ps 37:3-7)
- Once a financial responsibility has been taken by the church, the missionary must not take it back. In this way, the church body learns to trust God and sees the importance of obedience and personal involvement.
- Don’t do for the church what they can do for themselves. (1 Tim. 5:8: 2 Thes. 3:8-10)
- Develop the ministry only to the degree the local assembly will be able to financially and capably handle. In the end, programs, building and equipment beyond the means of the mature assembly are counter-productive to the goal of a self-supporting church. It is important that we not establish that which will require continued missionary involvement.
C. Self-Governing Church
- The church is ever-increasingly brought into the decision making process. As spiritual leadership is developed, they should be consulted and in appropriate matters asked for advice. (Acts 6:1-6)
- Acts 15 – The Pastor is to lead in decisions concerning doctrine, practice and spiritual direction. The church must approve matters of doctrine. (Acts 15:22-27)
- All matters of financial expenditures from money given by the body must be decided upon by membership. (1 Cor. 16:3)
- The church, under the leadership of the pastor, has the responsibility to elect deacons with a heart to serve. (Acts 6:1-6)
- The church must be taught to take responsibility and to deal with discipline problems within the body in accordance to biblical guidelines and mandates. (Matt. 18:15-18) After the church has been established and turned over to national leadership, never, under any circumstance does the missionary have the right or authority to force his will in a matter. When called upon, he may offer advice and counsel. (See the spirit of 1 Cor. 5; 2 Cor. 2; 2 Cor. 6:11-13) Ownership of facilities and equipment are the responsibility and privilege of the self-governed church. (1 Cor. 16:3; Acts 2:44)
D. Self-Propagating Church
- A living organism will by its very nature reproduce itself.
- While missionaries are still involved in this process, extreme care must be taken to allow the trained, qualified leadership within the assembly to minister, be involved in decisions, and assume financial responsibility of the new work.
- Special care must be taken to not do for the infant church what they can do themselves. To do so would be counter-productive to the stated goal, discourage participation and make it appear the ministry is a missionary effort instead of an offspring of the mature ministry. (1 Thes. 2:1-13)
- The missionary has the responsibility to assist where needed, provide direction and organization and use the new work as a vehicle for leadership development, training and ministry experience.