New Testament Church Planting is not controlled by money.
Melvin Hogdes said “We believe that this is possible because the gospel is universal and adaptable to every climate and race, and to every social and economic level.”
I would definitely agree with this statement. I don’t believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is controlled by any of the above factors.
God’s plan from the beginning was a plan to reach the world. His kind of church can be planted and sustained in any area of the world. Whether or not you and I are effectively doing that does not negate what is true of God’s church.
Hodges, after studying the New Testament church concludes,
“The New Testament church then was first, self-propagating; that is, it had within it sufficient vitality so that it could extend throughout the region and neighboring regions by its own efforts. It produced its own workers and the work was spread abroad by the effort of the Christians themselves.”
While I agree with what Hodges says I think in this specific quote at least he leaves out a very important factor. The fact that there was a first cause. That is, the church didn’t start on its own and the people didn’t just grow on their own without any outside help. They had one of the greatest Bible teachers of all times, the Apostle Paul.
Yes, I fully believe that a Xhosa preacher/teacher is capable of doing as well if not far better than I could ever do. But he is not going to get their wandering through the wilderness alone. Paul was there to guide these churches and so the missionary is here to help train and coach local leadership.
Secondly, Hodges speaks of the self-governing principle. He says “It (N.T. church) was self-governing; that is, it was governed by men who were raised up by the Holy Spirit from among converts in the locality.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the statement, but as the saying goes “if it sounds a little too good to be true then it is.” What I mean is these “men” don’t just happen. They don’t just become godly men all of the sudden. No, it is a process. Phil 1:6 says that this process is something that takes place over the course of a life.
Yes, they can and should get involved a.s.a.p. in the ministry but it would be misleading to say that these men just show up one day. No it by God’s process of sanctification and life on life discipleship that such men will appear in church plants.
The men are called gifts according to Ephesians 4:11,12 – “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
God gives the local church gifts. Here at Madiba Bay God has given us such men. He has given us Sipho, Lubabalo, and Babalo and I hope many more to come. They are growing and learning more and more how to use the God given gifts they have been endowed with.
Lastly, Hodges speaks of the self-supporting principle. He says “it (N.T. church) did not depend on foreign money in order to meet the expense of the work.”
This is another great point by Hodges but at the same time one I find difficult to balance. I am not for complete disuse of foreign funds but I am for the self-supporting principle.
I don’t want the churches planted here to be dependent on foreign funds. I don’t want them thinking that when the missionary goes church is over.
I don’t want to develop a welfare mentality. On the other side it would be silly to work on foreign fields and not make use of a resource God has given you.
The devil makes great use of this resource. He is doing a fantastic job of creating self-sustaining organization all over the world through its usage.
What I have been taught up to this point and have to come to take as a church planting philosophy concerning money is that we shouldn’t do things that cannot be sustained after we are gone.
We will help with the purchase of buildings or land if necessary. We will help to get things started up, but what we do not want to do is provide things that cannot be sustained by the people.
If we help with a simple building then they can afford to pay the water and electricity.
If we provide expensive S.S. materials from the states when we are gone they cannot afford to continue do so.
We can help provide chairs that will last for the church.
We cannot provide fancy meals and leave them in disappointment when the future preacher plans a churchwide meal.
We can help materials and evangelism tools. These are essentials.
We are not going to start an expensive taxi service to and from church that the church cannot sustain. Our goal is to start churches within walking distance of where the people live.
These are just some thoughts as I read through Melvin L. Hogdes book THE INDIGENOUS CHURCH.
I am not preaching to anyone just writing out my thoughts from the reading. If you disagree or have thoughts or insight please feel free to reply.