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How to get your church to be an indigenous church

I heard and took these notes many years ago. As I read back thru them recently, I was very thankful and saw how many of these simple thoughts formed my philosophy and practice of ministry. In no way are these infallible ideas or promised, success principles for ministry – but I do believe they can greatly help any missionary serving in any country.

  1. Start the first service with giving a offering – it reminds them, shows where the money goes, motivates them to give.

Four accounts for giving:

  • Tithes – maintains local church (Have a Stewardship Month to teach Time, Talent & Treasure)
  • Faith Promise (Have a Faith Promise month)
  • Other (Building Fund)
  • New Works – 10% of tithes – tell them we’ve been given and we should help give to start other churches so others can hear.

You can have four different people carry the four different purses of the different offerings – trustworthy people

  1. Do not set them up to fail

Buying things they cannot buy (SS curriculums, projectors, coffee machines, paying for buses & bus routes) and doing things they cannot do is just setting them up to fail when you leave

  1. Place national leadership in positions to fail

Seems contradictory to what was just said, but you should allow national leadership to try things they can’t do – how does a child learn to walk? by falling. They need to fall to get back up

Times to preach, to lead singing, lead the church, be in charge of certain ministries – this is never to embarrass them, rather let the do things so they stumble and learn to stand back up.

You cannot expect them to be leaders of churches one day if they never have opportunities to practice and fail while you are still there.

Jesus did it with the disciples in the storm, casting out of demons, etc. He was preparing them for when He would be gone.

Don’t over drive them (Genesis 33:13-14, II Corinthians 2:7) or you’ll kill them. As you personally have made mistakes and been given opportunities, they need the same treatment. Don’t expect them to change overnight when it has taken you years to get to where you are.

  1. Practice Church Discipline

Church Discipline is not to hurt people rather to make all aware that sin has consequences, to restore the people, to purify the church.

I Timothy 5:19-20; II Samuel 1:20

Galatians 6:1 – restore in meekness. We are commanded to restore, but we are commanded to do it “in meekness” (with love, gentleness, kindness). Yelling and beating someone over the head does not usually help the matter.

Matthew 18:15

  • Go to him alone (this first step is almost always violated)
  • Go with two or three others (remember, the goal is to get the person to realize this is not a joke and you are concerned and want to help)
  • Go before the church
  • Remove him – count him as a heathen (lost man)

Paul went so far that when someone would not fix it, he said he turned him over to the devil (I Corinthians 5:5). Many want to jump to this, but remember this was the last thing Paul did… and later in II Corinthians he wanted the church to love the man and help him.

Have the person (or people) in sin memorize Scripture – Psalm 51, 32; Colossians 3; Romans 6, etc.

As raising up children means disciplining them, the same thing applies for spiritual children – love them as your own children

  1. Planned Absences

Tell them I’m going to be gone

they may fail and attendance may go down, but they’ll learn and do even better in the future

  1. Have business meetings, men’s meetings, members meetings, leaders meetings

Allow any baptized church member that is not under discipline

It is usually best to have men’s meetings, but whoever is in the meeting needs to be shown that this is “their” church, not the missionary’s church

They need to do some deciding; they must learn to become self-governing

  1. Preach missions & soul winning messages to get them fired up
  1. Tell them about heroes of the faith and show them we need and God could raise up a Charles Spurgeon or DL Moody from this area.
  1. Allow them to think for themselves
  1. Give them responsibility
  1. Hold them to a high standard
  1. Let them see in your life things you want them to do
  1. Don’t try to make them American

Many things are culture & can be accepted

  1. Never do anything alone!

Let them see how you get a sermon, how you visit a troubled person, how you perform a funeral or wedding, how you handle problems, etc.

  1. Be a leader of leaders, train leaders.

How much time did Jesus spend with the multitudes? Not much, it was usually with the 3 (Peter, James and John), then the other disciples

  1. Respect the national leader as a leader and not my peon

God can and will use them, never ever treat them with a racist attitude by thinking you are better than them or have some monopoly on God and God’s work.

  1. It’s more caught than taught

Let them be around you, show them how to do things, let your ministry be more than preaching a sermon a couple times a week rather be living your ministry constantly… and they will catch it and begin serving God.

If you are not convinced that what you are doing is important, go home!

  1. Teach them how to do the work and give him more credit for doing it

No one likes a guy who always takes the credit.

Learn to give credit instead of taking credit.

  1. Learn from the guys getting it done – find them and learn from them
  1. Never quit learning!
  1. Without a worker you have no work

A building doesn’t make a church. A piece of land doesn’t make a church. Even a group of people doesn’t necessarily make a church. If you don’t have a man to lead the church or ministries, the church or ministries will soon close down.

Here to Serve,

Jeff Bush

General Director of Vision Baptist Missions

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