Monday, October 3, 2016

The Benefits of Indigenous Pastors - part two

Part one can be found here. 

When we left off, Allen was enlightening us with his thoughts on indigenous pastors and the best ways to reach the unreached people in the remote villages of Honduras. In doing this, he made some necessary comparisons between North American missionaries and indigenous pastors.

Here are a few more of those thoughts:

North American Missionaries Are Better Educated.

This is true. The average missionary arrives from North America with a college degree, and, most likely, a seminary degree. The indigenous pastors of Honduras are most definitely not as well educated. Of course, neither are the congregations. Allen is a proponent of providing training and education for the indigenous pastors. As he said, “It is NOT okay for indigenous pastors to have faulty theology. So we teach them.” Maybe we don’t need extra baggage to minister to people with a 3rd grade education.

Everything doesn’t have to be complicated. Allen points out that he is seeing a shift among many U.S. churches, as well. He’s seeing churches that are returning to the basics. There’s a trend to not get bogged down over whether someone is a premillennialist, postmillennialist, or amillennialist. As Allen put it so simply, “God loves us. Do we love Him? Do we love our neighbor?”

Utilizing Indigenous Pastors Is Economical.

It is standard practice for a North American missionary to raise support for living expenses. By the time you figure in things such as insurance and a retirement plan, it is expected for a gringo missionary to require $3,000-$5,000 per month in support. That’s not to imply they are living an extravagant lifestyle, but let’s compare that to indigenous pastors.

It is customary, in the mountain villages, for each pastor’s congregation to provide him with a stipend. $5 per month is typical. Just as the apostle Paul earned his own way through tent making, these pastors work in local fields to provide for their families.
While many well-known charities pay their indigenous pastors, teachers, and feeding center cooks, Sowers4Pastors does not hire and pay the people who work in their feeding centers. Allen compared paying the teachers and cooks to a U.S. church paying its Sunday school teachers. They work because they want to help their community.

Let’s Look at Success Rates.

Pastor Omar preaching, playing, and delighting
his congregation!
Did you know that when foreign missionaries plant new churches, there is only about a 50% success rate? In a church plant in the mountains of Honduras, it is unrealistic to think a foreign missionary pastor will be there indefinitely . . . and when a missionary leaves, for whatever reason--furlough, illness, to raise support, etc…--the newly planted churches tend to fall apart.

On the other hand, the success rate of churches started by indigenous pastors is much higher than 50%. Even when that pastor moves on, the odds of long-term success are much great than for churches started by a gringo. With an indigenous pastor, the congregation has a sense of ownership. It is their church rather than the gringo missionary’s church.

Ministering to the Needs

When an indigenous person goes to a gringo for counseling, there is a tendency for the person in need to begin seeing the pastor as their source of help - a “little god.” Allen feels that may be because the gringo is often more highly educated and better funded. At any rate, he is often placed at an elevated status.

When an indigenous person approaches an indigenous pastor with a problem, the pastor is seen as “one of their own,” resulting in less hero worship. The person in need can more clearly see that their hope is in Christ.


As mentioned in a previous post, Allen is not criticizing the work done by North American missionaries. He is one, after all! He would simply like for people to consider the best way to reach the most people with the resources available.  

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