The next Missionary Mistake I would like to share is the mistake of forgetting the Transition Rule. I am a missionary, and it is my belief that if I say I am a church planter, than I must …. start churches. I personally have churches in the US that support me as a missionary, not just a pastor. If I stay content with one church all my ministerial life, am I being fare to churches in the states? Would I even be being fare to the people on my field?
I was taught by my spiritual father a principle that is very important in the missionary life – the Transition Rule. I begin as the soul winner, pastor, door-opener, song leader, floor cleaner, etc, but my goal is to move out of those positions so that other leaders can be raised up. The goal is that the people of Argentina can take the lead and one day have an Argentine pastor. But how can they unless I practice the Transition Rule.
I will be honest that it is very easy to find a comfort zone and stay there. Although this may be applied in many aspects in life, it is especially true with a missionary.
God has allowed us to start and work in two churches. We have been blessed to see people saved, baptized, become members, become Sunday School teachers, lead music, become soul winners, begin to preach and much more. But I have found that it is easy for me to keep everyone below me and for me to stay as the pastor. I followed the Transition Rule from me leading music to them leading music. We followed the Transition Rule from my wife teaching everyone under 12 and me teaching 13 and up, to now having many Sunday School teachers. But I have stopped. I have been happy with that and have found an easy stage – me the pastor and in control while everyone else is below me. While it is not wrong to pastor a church, that is not what God has called me personally to do. I am to send out others to start churches, I am to train men to take the Gospel forward, I am to prepare preachers, pastors and men of God.
Allow me to quote something I recently received, “Everything we are doing, should be based upon if it could continue if we were driven to go underground and had to meet in the catacombs.”
Lord forbid, but if we were kicked out of the country tomorrow, shut down by communism or religious persecution, … would the work continue on? Would everything die when I as the missionary had to leave, or would it be able to carry on? If I died, would the work die? If I was absent from the services, would the church still function? These questions have made me ask myself if I am truly doing my job right. I think I have become satisfied in being the pastor and forgetting that one day I might have to move on. Can God’s work only be done by Americans, or can it be done by any nationality and in any country. Yet I have been guilty of carrying much of the work load, visitation, preaching, etc and not moving making the transition.
I would like to make a public cry to all missionaries and church planters – work on the Transition Rule. We can not be a “ball hog” and not let anyone else work. We can not be selfish, for truly our goal is to make them a success. We must decrease and they must increase.
The furtherance of the Gospel is depending on if we can make the transition. I believe God is preparing men, but we must be ready for God to place those men in our positions when the time comes. May many, many churches be started, men raised and people saved because we have learned to put the Transition Rule into practice.