In a church planting movement, a believer with the evangelist’s gift must enable others to evangelize effectively, too, witnessing in the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than relying on special meetings or visiting celebrity evangelists. These may impart interest and impetus, and bring many to Christ, but they cannot sustain a movement. To do so, an evangelist in a pioneer field helps new believers do the following:
- Relate clearly the essential gospel truths.
Tell the stories in an interesting, compelling way that people can repeat and pass on to others, of Jesus’ life (His miracles, goodness and liberating teaching), his sacrificial death, His life-giving resurrection, and the need to repent and believe to receive forgiveness and eternal life.
Do not approach these truths from a philosophical or purely theological viewpoint, but rather from a historical viewpoint, simply recounting what happened. To work in another culture, you may have to lay a foundation first for belief in the supremely powerful and holy God who must punish all evil; many Old Testament stories enable you to do this.
2. Call people to repent and trust Jesus for eternal salvation, rather than simply to make a “decision” for Him. The apostles never asked for decisions, and that approach is often futile.
3. Gather those who receive Christ into new churches at once.
Count converts after they have been added to the church by baptism (Acts 2:41-42). Start clusters of closely-knit churches rather than a few isolated, independent congregations.
4. Mobilize “mother” churches.
Each new church should make the commitment from the beginning, to reproduce daughter churches. The evangelists are “midwives” that help “mother” churches reproduce as soon as possible, as seen in Acts.
5. Aim to reach entire families, starting first with the heads of households when possible.
Many men respond readily if you enabled them to repeat key Bible stories or verses to their families.
6. Experiment creatively with different evangelism methods.
Do this when the Holy Spirit is not working through the methods currently in use. Investigate methods used in similar cultures.
7. Use your gift of evangelism in harmony with other gifts and ministries.
Especially during the first worship meetings, it is crucial to work closely with whomever gives pastoral care to new believers, so that they bond with them quickly and not only with an evangelist whose primary focus is outside the church. Help converts begin at once to participate in serious worship and other ministries. A new church in a pioneer field must practice the essentials of worship from its beginning, in a culturally relevant way.
These essentials of worship, with possible cultural forms they might take, are:
- Praise (voiced spontaneously, chanted, sung or read)
In some cultures, you would start without music, which is only an aid to worship, in order not to import western music; let converts write simple praise songs based on verses from Psalms, in their own cultural music style.
- Prayer (spontaneous, chanted, sung or read)
- Confession and assurance of forgiveness (read from Scripture, prayer book, sung or spontaneous)
- The Word (read, discussed, related as a story, sung, chanted, dramatized)
- The Eucharist (Lord’s Supper)
- Giving (pass a plate or bag, have a box by the door, or let believers place coins on the altar, etc.)
- (For house churches) A definite beginning and end to the worship service
Examine scriptural passages related to these essential aspects of worship when entering another culture. Then, when the nationals are able, let them add culturally relevant forms. Observe the people’s non-Christian worship, to discern forms of expression (not content) that can be useful in Christian worship. Note body movements, gestures, use of candles or other objects, dress, chanting and other forms of communication. Use what is transferable without dragging paganism in along with it.
- Arrange for new local leaders to lead the first public worship services.
Be sure that, when a new church goes public, local pastors/elders in training do the “up front” leading You or others on your team prepare them by discipling them behind the scenes.
If this is impossible, at least arrange for a local potential leader to begin the worship, present you, and authorize you to lead. Let the public see that the church is of their culture, not controlled by outsiders. Outsiders (not of the target culture or sub-culture) must not outnumber the converts at the first meetings, especially for the first few baptisms and celebrations of the Lord’s Supper. If outsiders outnumber them, they will think they are being baptized into a foreign body, not a church of their own community and culture.
- Use “redemptive analogies” where they are useful.
These are legends, myths, customs or religious dogma planted within the culture beforehand by God (and often confused or obscured by Satan since then). Use these analogies to prepare the people to understand and receive Christ. Many cultures have some kind of friendship pact ceremony or symbol, rituals for reconciling enemies, animal sacrifice, legends about a message of salvation coming from a foreigner, etc.
Get to know the people well.
Do demographic studies in the community and live among the people until you feel at home there. Nothing takes the place of simply talking with many people. Establish friendships and …read more.