North American Missionary Work

Reading in Melvin L. Hodges’ The Indigenous Church ( Springfield, Mo. Gospel Publishing House, 2009) I discovered I was not alone believing that the missionary approach to evangelism should work as well in the U.S.A. as it does in the Global South: South America, Africa, India, China, and points eastward. Here were some of the points of interest to me that were encouraging to read:

  1. Churches should be self-supporting because “this is the apostolic method.” [Page 75] In America, we have “outgrown so much in our organizational structure. Some pastors are known now as Executive Pastors or presidents with corporate documents written to satisfy the government instead of keeping the focus on evangelism and the “Great Commission.” “Denomination”is admittedly not a biblical grouping of churches, but this does not mean that denominational oversight is wrong, but the work to which we are called is “Heralding the coming Kingdom.”
  2. “Even the poorest people can support a pastor according to their own standard of living if 10 or more families in the congregation faithfully tithe … The New Testament pattern teaches that a pastor lives on the same level as the members of his congregation.” [Page 76] This is the biblical reason for the tithe. There were 11 tribes in Ancient Israel that had an inheritance. A tithe of their produce would feed the Levi’s by design.
  3. The churches of the east should be allowed to develop their own peculiar type of Christianity.” [Page 96] We can’t admit it but the sacrificial system in Leviticus, which most Christians have probably not read, let alone studied, is not culturally relevant for most Americans. We know Jesus died for our sins but giving a reason for the hope within may need to be explained using other metaphors and illustrations as well. We know the Gospel transcends some pagan cultures but it also transcends America’s “woke” culture. We may need the foreign missionary to explain this.
  4. “If the church is to grow it must be seen as something that, by its inherent nature, can grow in any culture.” [Page 177]. This is true cultural transcendency.
  5. Psychologically, we are geared to the machine age. Fast and big are words that occur frequently in our speech. Anything that produces results more rapidly is looked upon with favor, even though the permanent results may not be as satisfactory as those that might be obtained from other methods.” [Page 111] A Microwaveable salvation with metrics so we can chart our ministerial successes doesn’t sound like God’s approach in the Global South—it isn’t! And it shouldn’t be ours, either! Evangelism and church growth takes lots of time—lifetimes, in some fields of endeavor.
  6. I liked this one because it promotes horizontal, not vertical, growth: “Actually, it is better to have 20 smaller churches with 100 members each, scattered throughout the city, then to have one great church with 2000 members.” [Page 186]
  7. Above all, attitudes are more important than gifts.” [Page 204] I might have made them equal but if our heart is not living by biblical prinicples, following Christ in service, what does a “gift” really mean!

The above is 504 words. ‘nough said.

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