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The Church Planting Consultant Ministry

What would we think of parents who very soon after bringing a beautifully formed baby into the world conclude that their job as parents is finished?

What if after noting that their little infant seems to be doing all right, those parents decide it is time to move on and leave their precious child to fend for itself? We would not think well of those parents! Such a thought is inconceivable!

So it is when a group of baby believers are born into the body of Christ and the messengers of the gospel consider their job finished. These new believers are no more prepared for mature Christian living than that infant is prepared for adult human life. These new believers need nourishment, instruction and guidance in the same way the infant does.

Ethnos360 church planters know that their task is more than evangelism. The goal is that one day that group of baby believers will have been formed by Christ into a mature local body of believers.

The road from babes in Christ to a mature local church is a long one. There are no magic formulas, no speedy solutions, no short cuts. It will take years of translating God’s Word, teaching it and discipling toward that maturity. This is where the role of the Church Planting Consultant is so important.

In the early stages of a cross-cultural church plant where no form or pattern for local church function has ever existed, it would be easy for the church planter to import church culture and tradition from their home country without realizing it. This can cause confusion as the new believers are unable to decipher where the biblical model ends and where the missionaries imported church culture begins. The Church Planting Consultant helps guide the missionary team to avoid these early pitfalls.

As the church grows toward maturity, the consultant helps the team evaluate where the strengths and weaknesses are in the life of the church. How is God’s Word impacting their daily lives? What level of authority does the church ascribe to God’s Word? Do the believers handle and interpret the Word appropriately? Does the church understand what the local church is intended to be? Do they understand what unites them as believers and how the members should relate to one another? Do they know why they exist? Are they functioning well in the specific functions of a local church laid out in the New Testament? Are they loving one another and caring for each other’s needs? What is their relationship to Christ, their Head, in the life of the church? Do they make personal and practical application of truth to their daily lives? Do believers understand the gifts Christ has given to the church and are they encouraged to function in their unique gifting? Is the church equipping its members for leadership, service and outreach?

So many questions! The church planters sent out by Ethnos360 have been well equipped to think through all of these challenging questions and apply them to the church plant God has placed them in. But oh, what a blessing to have co-workers with decades of experience showing up on a regular basis to consider these things together. A fresh set of experienced eyes to observe, evaluate and advise.

I recall my own experience as part of a church planting team. Every six months Greg, Merrill or Maurice would take time out of their own church planting works to come and spend a week with our team. They didn’t come with an agenda. They came to help us work through whatever challenges we were facing at that specific time. They came to encourage and to be a sounding board. They were mentors and advisors to help ensure that the local assembly of believers in our little corner of the jungle would continue down the path toward maturity. Their input made a profound difference.

Because of the high value Ethnos360 places on the end goal of seeing thriving churches established in every people group, the role of the Church Planting Consultant will remain an important one.

But what about here at home? Are we asking these same questions in our local assemblies? Are we evaluating where we are on that path toward maturity? What are the strengths and weaknesses in our own local body?

I see great wisdom in the New Testament model of a plurality of leadership in each local church as it relates to this. How could one person be expected to evaluate, discern maturity levels, and disciple a group of believers on their own? In a cross-cultural church plant, it is the missionary team and church planting consultants who work together in this effort until the time when there are maturing elders who can lead the flock together. In our established local assemblies here at home it is so important that our leaders not grow weary in this same effort of discipleship.

Tags: Consider This, Establishing Churches, Ethnos360 Magazine
POSTED ON Jun 29, 2023 by Steve Sanford