Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Benefits of Indigenous Pastors - part one

When it comes to motivational speaking, Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent Peale had nothing on Allen Sowers! If you don’t believe me, try spending some time talking to him on the phone. You don’t even have to talk. In fact, it’s probably better if you just listen and soak up the motivation! Since you may not have the opportunity to chat with Allen on a regular basis, I’m going to pass on some of the content from our most recent fairly one-sided conversation. Today, Zig, er, Allen, was speaking about the benefits and problems of indigenous pastors versus foreign missionaries. (In order to get the full effect, you’ll need to read this at warp speed because that is how Allen talks!)

Village People

It is believed there are 2000 villages in the mountains of Western Honduras, which don’t have a Bible based church. Just let that sink in for a moment. TWO THOUSAND VILLAGES! How many people might that be? Now those villages aren’t accessible from main roads. Often, they aren’t accessible from any roads!

The North American mentality tends to be, “Well, we should send missionaries to Honduras to plant churches.” On the surface, that sounds like a great plan. After all, it’s the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion. Right? But does the Great Commission mean that we, as American Christians, need to place a missionary in each of the estimated 2000 villages in one portion of Honduras? Or is there perhaps a way to accomplish more while being better stewards with the money God has provided? The Great Commission must be completed, but how do we go about that?

A Different Way

A gringo missionary family might say, “We’re going to live in a place that’s an hour and a half to two hour walk from the nearest road. We’ll park our car at the edge of the road and hike to our new home. Oh, sure, that means we won’t have electricity, internet, or easy access to the outside world, but… Great Commission and all that. We’ll homeschool our kids with books we’ve brought with us and hauled on our backs. We'll have to bring in our food, as the local diet isn't sufficient to stave off malnutrition. And, if the kids get sick… well, we won’t think about that.” Some might be willing to make that sacrifice, but does that mean it’s the best way? One missionary family who starts a church plant might reach several hundred people. What if, instead of planting a church, that missionary family works to empower Honduran pastors?

Sowers4Pastors thinks it’s important to utilize indigenous pastors as a way of reaching the masses. By working with indigenous pastors, there can be exponential growth. The Sowers have worked with maybe 1000 pastors. Each of those pastors has ministered to their communities . That means that, through the pastors who have a relationship with Sowers4Pastors, approximately 100,000-120,000 people have been reached with the Gospel, and are now plugged into local churches in their communities!

Instead of foreign missionaries each planting one church, they could help indigenous pastors plant twenty-five churches. This idea isn’t simply about cost effectiveness. It’s about soul effectiveness!

Allen stresses that this approach would not work in all countries. In a Muslim country, for instance, there would not be a group of indigenous Christian pastors ready to assume responsibility for ministering. He most assuredly is not disparaging missionaries who take a different approach, though he questions the need for most missionaries in Honduras to be from North America. He is offering food for thought. In fact, he is offering so much food for thought that it will need to be continued in another post! Stay tuned!

- posted by Christi

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