self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting churches

Status
Not open for further replies.

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
At what point should missionaries step back and encourage the churches they worked with to be self-governing, self-propagating, and develop into being a self-supporting federation of churches?
They need to have the Bible, and the creeds in their native language? What else is necessary before the missionary should step back?
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
I assume you have basic linguistic helps with grammar and dictionaries along with God's word. Translation is a big issue also. It takes many years in some cases to translate.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm speaking from the outside of the missions world, but it would seem to me that at least if the missionary is from a Presbyterian denomination the goal would be to help the churches in a mission region to get to the point where they could from their own presbytery. From that point on they could be their own organization while maintaining fraternal relations with the original sending denomination.

In addition to what you mentioned above, this would require having multiple churches with biblically qualified elders in a region, and training them in how to conduct healthy church government procedure.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
At what point should missionaries step back and encourage the churches they worked with to be self-governing, self-propagating, and develop into being a self-supporting federation of churches?
They need to have the Bible, and the creeds in their native language? What else is necessary before the missionary should step back?
The ultimate goal would be to have their own adequate officer training program in place, so that they can call and equip their own ministers from within to build up and expand their churches. That was basically the task given to Titus, "to appoint elders in every town". So once the basics are in place (i.e. Bible, Creeds, and a Book of Church Order, in their own tongue) you want the missionaries to gradually fade away while the indigenous are trained to take over. But, that may take a couple generations if you're starting from ground zero with an unreached people group.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Qualified Elders/Bishops/Presbyters. If there is a trained and qualified leadership, everything else should fall in place. Until, of course, apostacy and schism show up.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Translation is a big issue also. It takes many years in some cases to translate.
To be effective the missionary must, as Martin says, have the linguistic skills necessary for translating.
In Myanmar we all know of Judson's work, learning the Burmese language, authoring a dictionary and translating the Bible into Burmese. The Judson translation has many flaws. The Churches that worship in the Burmese language are not unified to agree upon a new translation.
The Welsh Calvinistic Methodists sent missionaries who brought the Gospels to the Chin peoples in Myanmar and India. They established Presbyterian Churches and Baptist Church federations among the various Chin people groups. Today those Presbyterian and Baptist groups are badly infected by Pentecostalism and "prosperity gospel" beliefs.
It appears that Missionaries should have stayed on the ground longer fixing the problems with the translation of the Burmese Bible. Likewise, it appears that Missionaries should have stayed on the ground longer in Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and other Chin areas of India & Myanmar, having oversight of the theological education of indigenous pastors and assisting the new indigenous churches there in becoming rooted in the Reformed faith.
In Nepal those reformed evangelists who are bringing the Gospel are not starting at a zero baseline, but are not far above that. Christians in Nepal have a good translation of the Bible into Nepali. The Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds along with the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the Heidelberg Catechism & Belgic Confession are all available in Nepali. What more should we seek to do to help? What other steps can or should be done to encourage the emergence of qualified, well equipped, indigenous pastors?

...That was basically the task given to Titus, "to appoint elders in every town". So once the basics are in place (i.e. Bible, Creeds, and a Book of Church Order, in their own tongue) you want the missionaries to gradually fade away while the indigenous are trained to take over. But, that may take a couple generations if you're starting from ground zero with an unreached people group.
Is Rich right? It may take a couple of generations for self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting federations of churches to emerge?
 
Last edited:

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
To be effective the missionary must, as Martin says, have the linguistic skills necessary for translating.
In Myanmar we all know of Judson's work, learning the Burmese language, authoring a dictionary and translating the Bible into Burmese. The Judson translation has many flaws. The Churches that worship in the Burmese language are not unified to agree upon a new translation.
The Welsh Calvinistic Methodists sent missionaries who brought the Gospels to the Chin peoples in Myanmar and India. They established Presbyterian Churches and Baptist Church federations among the various Chin people groups. Today those Presbyterian and Baptist groups are badly infected by Pentecostalism and "prosperity gospel" beliefs.
It appears that Missionaries should have stayed on the ground longer fixing the problems with the translation of the Burmese Bible. Likewise, it appears that Missionaries should have stayed on the ground longer in Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and other Chin areas of India & Myanmar, having oversight of the theological education of indigenous pastors and assisting the new indigenous churches there in becoming rooted in the Reformed faith.
In Nepal those reformed evangelists who are bringing the Gospel are not starting at a zero baseline, but are not far above that. Christians in Nepal have a good translation of the Bible into Nepali. The Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds along with the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the Heidelberg Catechism & Belgic Confession are all available in Nepali. What more should we seek to do to help? What other steps can or should be done to encourage the emergence of qualified, well equipped, indigenous pastors?


Is Rich right? It may take a couple of generations for self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting federations of churches to emerge?
You're quoting my post, so I don't know if you are confusing me with Rich? But yes, depending on what you have to start with in that population, it could take quite a while. You need men converted, and then built up with sufficient character and understanding to fulfill the duties of the office, and able to train younger men who can train others, etc. So the missionaries would need to take on that "training others" role for a while until the local group had men mature enough to take over that role. And perhaps you would need a tiered approach for a while, beginning with more basic gospel preachers, and then gradually training them how to repel the more sophisticated kinds of errors (i.e. Pentecostalism, etc.) or refine the translation issues with the Scriptures/Creeds. Jesus sent the 12 Apostles out to preach earlier in their training, but kept teaching them more, before finally appointing them to run the mission in Acts upon his ascension. And even then they still had more to learn...

Paul apparently could start a congregation with Jewish converts or Gentile God-fearers who already knew their Bibles. So it likely did not take as long to find qualified elders who were "apt to teach". But if you have a group that is brand new to the whole gospel message and the Scriptures, it may take awhile before you have men ready to preach the whole counsel of God. I'd be interested in hearing @Pergamum's perspective on this since that is what he did for so long.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I think the other important issue as mentioned is self-sufficiency with regard to leadership. For example, a church from one country to another where the language issues have been solved, but that doesn't mean the body is healthy.

For example, I was in the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) US presbytery which was founded in a long term plan to have a native Scottish in theology Reformed Presbyterian denomination in the US, but that group has still not split away ~20 years later and still has Scotsmen in the presbytery as advisory members. I think a large part of why they remain part of Scotland for now is for the oversight and accountability they feel they would lack as a small independent presbytery/denomination of a handful of churches. Perhaps someone who is a member of this group can provide better information than I can since I've been away a few years now.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
You're quoting my post, so I don't know if you are confusing me with Rich? But yes, depending on what you have to start with in that population, it could take quite a while. You need men converted, and then built up with sufficient character and understanding to fulfill the duties of the office, and able to train younger men who can train others, etc. So the missionaries would need to take on that "training others" role for a while until the local group had men mature enough to take over that role. And perhaps you would need a tiered approach for a while, beginning with more basic gospel preachers, and then gradually training them how to repel the more sophisticated kinds of errors (i.e. Pentecostalism, etc.) or refine the translation issues with the Scriptures/Creeds. Jesus sent the 12 Apostles out to preach earlier in their training, but kept teaching them more, before finally appointing them to run the mission in Acts upon his ascension. And even then they still had more to learn...

Paul apparently could start a congregation with Jewish converts or Gentile God-fearers who already knew their Bibles. So it likely did not take as long to find qualified elders who were "apt to teach". But if you have a group that is brand new to the whole gospel message and the Scriptures, it may take awhile before you have men ready to preach the whole counsel of God. I'd be interested in hearing @Pergamum's perspective on this since that is what he did for so long.
Your thoughts are spot on, in my opinion.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top