Archive for December 2011

The Teaching Of St. Paul: Quotes From Roland Allen

December 30, 2011

There has been much in the first seven chapters of Missionary Methods: St Paul’s Or Ours? (MM) by Roland Allen that has resonated with me. Allen has written about mission strategy, finances, culture, and the content of the preaching of the Apostle, all subjects that we must consider if we are to be about the ministry of starting indigenous churches that will reach their communities and cultures for Christ.

In the eighth chapter of the book, Allen addresses another subject that we must give attention to if we are to be effective in the starting of new churches. That subject is the teaching and teaching strategy of Paul as he went about the Mediterranean World proclaiming the Gospel.

There are so many great thoughts and wonderful quotes in this chapter, “The Teaching”, that I have decided to dedicate this post exclusively to this chapter of Missionary Methods.

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” … it is manifest that St Paul did not go about as a missionary preacher merely to convert individuals: he went to establish churches from which the light might radiate throughout the whole country round. … It is the training of the first converts which set the type for the future. If the first converts are taught to depend upon the missionary, if all work, evangelistic, educational, social is concentrated in his hands, the infant community learns to rest passively upon the man from whom they receive their first insight into the Gospel. Their faith having no sphere for its growth and development lies dormant.”

“If there is a striking difference between St Paul’s preaching and ours there is a still greater difference between his method of dealing with converts and that common among us today.”

“The first and most striking difference between his action and ours is that the founded ‘churches’ whilst we found ‘Missions’. … He set up no organization intermediate between the preaching and the establishment of a fully organized indigenous church.”

“The question before us is, how he could so train his converts as to be able to leave them after so short a time with any security that they would be able to stand and grow. … The sense of stupefaction and amazement that comes over us when we think of it is the measure of the distance which we have travelled from the apostolic method.”

“Thus St Paul seems to have left his newly-founded churches with a simple system of Gospel teaching, two sacraments, a tradition of the main facts of the death and resurrection, and the Old Testament. … We can hardly believe that a church could be founded on so slight a basis. And yet it is possible that it was precisely the simplicity and brevity of the teaching which constituted its strength.”

“By teaching the simplest elements in the simplest form to the many, and by giving them the means by which they could for themselves gain further knowledge, by leaving them to meditate upon these few fundamental truths, and to teach one another what they could discover, St Paul ensured that his converts should really master the most important things. … A man does not need to know much to lay hold of Christ. St Paul began with simplicity and brevity.”

“In so doing he ran grave risks. It is characteristic of St Paul that he had such faith in Christ and in the Holy Spirit indwelling in the Church that he did not shrink from risks.”

“I think that it is quite possible that the shortness of his stay may have conduced in no small measure to St Paul’s success. … By leaving them quickly St Paul gave the local leaders opportunities to take their proper place, and forced the church to realise that it could not depend upon him, but must depend upon its own resources.”

“One other effect of St Paul’s training is very clear. His converts became missionaries. It seems strange to us that there should be no exhortations to missionary zeal in the Epistles of St Paul. … for the Christians the spread of the doctrine of salvation was the highest and most sacred duty.”

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The reading of the eighth chapter of Missionary Methods, and the quotes above, in particular, have provoked a number of thoughts.

If we, the church in the West, are going to be used of the Lord to reach our networks, communities, and nation for Christ, we must …

  • Be about the business of making reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ, not just converts to the faith. Discipling new believers would include mentoring relationships and instruction in doctrine.
  • Start new, reproducing churches – communities of faith that will reach their networks and penetrate and saturate their communities for Christ – not simply add new believers to existing churches.
  • Be open to new forms of church – forms that are other than our traditional, Western, land-based, facility-centered, program-based design churches.
  • Trust that the Lord is working and leading in the hearts and lives of new believers just as He is working and leading in our’s and immediately commission them for ministry.
  • Take risks for the spread of the Gospel and the glory of God.

 

Church Planting Movements: Defined and Diagrammed

December 27, 2011

Perhaps the greatest activity of God in the world today can be found in what are called Church Planting Movements. The most outstanding examples of CPM are taking place in China and India.

But, what exactly is a Church Planting Movement? How do we define this activity of God?

David Garrison, in his book Church Planting Movements – How God Is Redeeming A Lost World, defines a CPM as …

” … a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment.”

In the book, T4T – A Discipleship ReRevolution, authors Steve Smith and Ying Kai define a CPM as …

” … the Spirit-empowered rapid multiplication of disciples and churches generation by generation.”

So then, if these are the definition of what a CPM is, what does a CPM look like?

Well, it looks a little something like this.

I found his CPM chart on the blog site of Steve Addison. The churches represented on the chart are not the typical churches that we are familiar with, and probably members of, in the West. They do not buy property and build buildings, have seminary trained, paid staff, or calendar programs that meet throughout the course of each week  in church facilities.

These churches emphasize abundant Seed sowing (evangelism), the making and multiplication of disciples, and the start and multiplication of (organic) churches that penetrate and saturate social and relationship networks and communities.

And, the Lord is using them to reach countless numbers of people for Himself in some of the hardest and most dangerous parts of the world.

It is true that only the Lord can initiate a Church Planting Movement. I do believe, though, that it is time for the church in the United States to give serious and prayerful consideration to the implementation of the principles and practices that we find in Church Planting Movements if we are going to reach our networks, communities, and cities for Christ.

For more information on CPM, read David Garrison’s booklet, Church Planting Movements.

 

Roland Allen On Mission Finances and Preaching

December 24, 2011

This is my second installment of quotes taken from Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s Or Ours by Roland Allen. This book, considered by many to be a classic on missions and indigenous ministry, was written in 1912.

As I mentioned in my first post on MM, it is important to remember when reading these quotes that when Allen wrote the book missions conducted in “heathen” lands were dominated by Western missions organizations, were financed mainly by foreign capital, were led and overseen by foreign missionaries, and gave little consideration to a truly indigenous approach to ministry.

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From the chapter, “Finance.”

Allen dismisses the idea that ” … the stability of the church in some way depends upon the permanence of its buildings.”

“Christianity is not an institution, but a principle of life.”

“By supplying what they cannot supply we check them in the proper impulse to supply what they can supply. … The converts learn to rely upon them (the missionaries) instead of making every effort to supply their own needs.”

From  “The Preaching” chapter.

 “Philosophical disquisitions have no doubt their place; but for mission preaching the supreme subject is ‘the Cross’, ‘Repentance, and Faith’.”

“We tend to think that the duty of the Church is rather to Christianize the world than to gather out of the world the elect of God into fellowship of His Son.”

 “St Paul did not scatter seeds, he planted. He so dealt with his hearers that he brought them speedily and directly to a point of decision, and then he demanded of them that they should make a choice and act on their choice.”

Allen’s comments about St. Paul bringing men to a point of decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of Christ are convicting. How often do I share Christ with people? How rarely do I call them to decision?

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My next post of quotes from Missionary Methods: St Paul’s Or Ours? will be taken entirely from the chapter, “The Teaching.”

Pauline Missiological Principles And Practice: Insights And Thoughts From Roland Allen

December 19, 2011

I have recently completed the reading of Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s Or  Ours?, a classic on missions, by Roland Allen. Missionary Methods The  book was written in 1912.

Allen was an Anglican minister who served in China from 1895 – 1903. After retiring from foreign service for health reasons, he served an English parish for several years and then moved to Kenya, Africa where he lived and wrote about missionary principles until his death in 1947.

You can read more about Allen in the article, “The Legacy of Roland Allen” by J. D. Payne. In this article, Payne states that because of Allen’s insight into the expansion of the Church and his insistence that the “missionary methods of the Apostle were not antiquated but rather to be applied to missionary endeavors in any day and time,” he was often thought of as being a prophet. He was also considered “a revolutionary, a radical, or a troublemaker.”

In the text, Allen writes about the historical-socio-political times and conditions in which the Apostle ministered, the financing of ministry, the content of what Paul preached, the training of converts, Paul’s exercise of authority and discipline, and unity within the Church Universal as well as the local church.

It is important to remember when reading Missionary Methods and the quotes below that Allen wrote his books in a missionary era that was dominated by foreign mission organizations, mission stations, and a sense of missionary paternalism. That is why his thoughts, perspectives, and writings were so radical. And so intriguing, exciting, and relevant for today’s missions ministries.

As I read Missionary Methods I was struck by how much of what Roland Allen wrote about and said one-hundred years ago is being proven to be the case and validated today by missiologists. The same missiological issues that Allen addressed in his book are being addressed by contemporary authors such as Steve Addison, David Garrison, Ying Kai, and Steve Smith and he is being given due credit and respect for his influence on current missiological thought and practice. It is interesting to note that Allen once told his son that his writings and perspectives would not be taken seriously until the year 1960.

I would like to share, in this post and several to follow, a number of quotes taken from Missionary Methods that I highlighted as I read the book. The quotes either gave me pause to ponder or reasons to shout “Amen!”

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From the Introduction:

“Today if a man ventures to suggest that there may be something in the methods by which St Paul attained such wonderful results worthy of our careful attention, and perhaps of our imitation, he is in danger of being  accused of revolutionary tendencies.”

” … St Paul did not gather congregations, he planted churches ….”  

“We cannot imagine any Christianity worthy of the name existing without the elaborate machinery which we have invented.”

“In face of the vast proportions of the work to be done … the example of the Apostle of the Gentiles must be of first importance.”

In the first chapter of Missionary Methods, “Strategic Points,” Allen writes that although Paul “did not deliberately plan his missionary tours … All the cities, or towns, in which he planted churches were centres of Roman administration, of Greek civilization, of Jewish influence, or of some commercial importance.”

“It is not enough for the church to be established in a place where many are coming and going unless the people who come and go not only learn  the Gospel, but leave it in such a way that they can propagate it.”

“St Paul plainly did not select where he would preach simply on grounds like these; he was led of the Spirit, and when we speak of his strategic centres, we must recognize that they were natural centres; but we must also recognize that for missionary work they were strategic centres because he made them such. They were not centres as which he must stop, but centres from which he might begin; not centres into which life drained but centres from which it spread abroad.”

“He was led as God opened the door; but wherever he was led he always found a centre, and seizing upon that centre he made it a centre of Christian life.”

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In a day when so much of the world is in need of hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing Him personally as Savior, it behooves us to listen to the visionary missionary voice of Roland Allen. Though his book is one-hundred years old, I believe the Holy Spirit can use its insights into the missionary principles and practice of the Apostle Paul to greatly impact our missions ministries for the glory of God and the planting of indigenous churches around the world and the reaching of many for Christ.

I will post additional quotes from Missionary Methods over the next week or two.