As I traveled to a number of missions conferences last year, I so enjoyed meeting missionaries with different personality types, ages and lengths of service, with some having served 30, even 40 years in a foreign field. They were each unique and their callings different, yet they had learned many similar patterns in their journey with God to furthering His Kingdom.
These dedicated missionary servants love to share their journey with others in a small group or fellowshipping over a good meal. In fact, breaking bread together seems to be one of the most popular ways of getting to know each other, just as Jesus did in the first century. (Unfortunately, my weight gain can attest to this frequent ministry practice!)
As I spent time getting to know them, some prominent patterns of success became very clear. Consequently, these patterns encouraged me about the approach that Scriptures In Use employs in training indigenous partners to reach local people groups:
Principles of Successful Missions Practice:
- Keep the gospel message and story simple, in the local mother-tongue language and cultural context.
- Use the local peoples’ natural learning styles (organic). Don’t force or insert a foreign practice, custom or principle upon them.
- Use Bible stories in both oral and literate cultures to introduce discovery learning in non-threatening ways, through story-telling and dialogue.
- Reduce training complexities by not relying on technology and electricity in difficult to reach or restricted locations.
- Seek and pray to find men or women of peace, and build with them a relationship of trust, respect, shared humility and a mutual desire for learning.
- Empower local leaders by equipping them to easily replicate themselves and the church-planting/disciple-making practices they learn in training events.
- Replicate self-sustainable training without western funding and without the need for a western or foreign missionary’s presence
These principles of successful missions practice are so confirming of SIU’s strategy that I actually called one of my team members during a conference and told them with an excited shout “We are doing what missionaries around the world are saying we need to do to reach, equip and engage the lost.” Recently, one of our Bridges training participants in a restricted Central Asia country shared:
“As we dramatized, sang and danced the Bible story in our own local mother-tongue language, it felt so good. I couldn’t help but shout out in great joy, THIS IS US!…THIS IS WHO WE WERE MEANT TO BE!”
Share Your Experience and Insight
I’m interested in hearing from you. What do you think of these principles? Have you discovered additional insights that might help others in their missions efforts?
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