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Establishing Churches: Biblical Goal from the Start

An Ilongot Bible teacher shares a lesson with children in the Philippines the 1950s.
Tags: Africa, Establishing Churches, Mission News, Prayer
POSTED ON Oct 02, 2016 by Ian Fallis

Evangelism Wasn’t Hit and Run

If you take a quick run through Acts, you might think the Apostle Paul and his missionary companions moved quickly from town to town, preaching the gospel. But if you read carefully, you’ll see that’s seldom the case. Paul or members of his party often spent months establishing a church, came back to check up on them and wrote letters to them to boot.

Establishing Churches

Paul and his fellow laborers implemented Christ’s command to “make disciples of all nations” by establishing churches. It makes sense -- disciples and thriving churches go hand-in-hand.

That’s why establishing churches has been important in the work of New Tribes Mission from the beginning. “We emphasize the training of [planted] churches … through which the evangelization of the world can be accomplished,” proclaimed the second issue of the mission’s magazine in June 1943, less than a year after New Tribes Mission began.

The chairman of the mission’s first Executive Committee, William S. Dillon, that same year began a series of articles about establishing churches that informed the public and helped guide the young mission. “After careful study,” he wrote, “we are convinced that the only way to evangelize the world is to establish … indigenous churches and teach these indigenous churches to establish other indigenous churches.”

Not What’s Popular, What’s Right

That wasn’t a popular idea back then. It wasn’t popular a few years later when the mission’s founder, Paul Fleming, said Africa would only be reached in partnership with African churches. And it’s not popular today, among people who grow impatient waiting for a microwave to finish heating food.

So what?

We’re commanded to make disciples. That’s always been closely related to establishing churches. And it takes time to do those things well. Will you pray that the missionaries who make up NTM, and those who stand behind them, have the perseverance to stick with obediently giving God our best?

Want to know more about what it looks like to establish a church? Take a look at this 30-minute documentary, Yembiyembi: Unto the Nations.