Strategies of Mission Movements in Asia Today

As we seek to share the Gospel of God’s Kingdom among the unreached people groups (UPGs) in Asia, let us take a good look at the mission strategies of our co-workers in the harvest-field.  Can the Christian minorities of our region (both nationals and expatriates) really reach out to our Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Communist, animist and secular humanist neighbors effectively, so that the Great Commission can be fulfilled among them, even in our generation?  If we are faithful in effectively doing our evangelization of Asia, we would help the global church in finishing the Great Commission among about 70% of the unreached living in our region today.  This paper seeks to show how the various churches in Asia are trying to do missions to reap the harvest in partnership with the global church in our respective neighborhoods and countries.

Why is the world, esp. Asia, not fully evangelized yet? The problem is not with God (who desires that all will be saved) nor with the lost (the Holy Spirit is convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment, Jn.16:8-11), but appears to be with the church: it is not doing enough to send enough workers into the harvest, which seems to be ripe for reaping most, if not all of the time (Mt.9:36-38; Jn.4:34-38).  We thank God that many major missional initiatives have emerged from among us especially since the 1960s mainly through the maturation of student movements in India, the Philippines, Singapore, Hongkong and South Korea. Since then various indigenous mission movements and global mission agencies have continued to recruit and send out hundreds of Asian missionaries to Asia and the world.

However, in spite the zeal, sincerity, dedication, prayers and even sacrifices in our missions, there seems to be hardly any significant outcomes and impact among the UPGs in Asia: are our churches taking the whole gospel effectively to our region and the whole world?  As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  May I suggest that besides spiritual factors, finding and implementing the “right mission strategy” will be most significant in determining our success or failure to bring closure to the Great Commission in Asia and the world?  Sending more missionaries is good, but not good enough.  We must make sure that we are strategically sending the right quality of missionaries who will do effective mission work.  Hence as I present the dozens of mission movements in Asia today, I classify them according to their mission strategies and their intended and actual outcomes.There are five (5) main mission strategies which have developed globally and have been used by various mission movements in Asia, in the recent four decades since the first Lausanne Congress (1974). These are: (1) Church Growth through outreach programs; (2) Church Growth through cell multiplication; (3) Church Growth through intentional church planting; (4) Church Multiplication through church planting movements; and (5) Kingdom Expansion through disciple making movements.

Strategy #1: Church Growth Through Outreach Programs

Most Asian churches and denominations as well as global mission organizations that are concerned for evangelism, church-planting and missions follow the Church Growth strategies and practices which have evolved through the past two centuries since William Carey (1792).  This traditional and mainstream mission strategy seeks to build congregations that will find ways to reach out to the community so as to attract the unchurched to become members of the congregation.

For local evangelism, several approaches are used. Among the main ones are: (1) house-to-house visitation, with the hope that an evangelistic Bible study may be started; (2) street (or commando) evangelism; (3) church fellowships, like Men’s, Women’s, Youth, Singles, Couples, Young Adults, etc.; (4) interest clubs, such as sports (basketball, football, bowling, golf, etc.), creative arts (painting, photography, etc.), camping, etc.; (5) use of mass media, like radio, television, tracts, films (esp. the “Jesus” film), and recently, websites and chat-rooms, often combined with correspondence courses.

The use of the above methods usually becomes more intense during special occasions, like: (1) special Sundays, esp. worship services, of religious festivals, like Easter, Christmas and Pentecost, “All Saints,” Thanksgiving, etc.; and public holidays like Mothers’, Fathers’, Independence, New Year, etc. (2) special seminars, like on parenting, marriage enrichment, etc.; (3) special meals, with some special features, like invited speakers or featured films; and (4) community events, like concerts and healing services.

Those who are  more community-oriented would  add “good works” or holistic ministries, like (1) social services, such as feeding programs, tutorials, medical clinics, often for free; and (2) counseling services, through coffeehouses, ministry centers, even half-way houses. Those who have more resources have sought to build Christian (read: church-owned) orphanages, schools and hospitals.  Most of these need external funding support, often from Christian development and mission organizations from the West and Asia’s developed countries.  In the past ten years, special focus has been on “child-focused development” to reach the 4/14 Window, promoted by the Mission as Transformation and Transform World Connections.

Special mention must be given to the Diaspora ministries, esp. to international workers and students in their midst.  Some churches and para-churches in major cities in Asia (esp. in Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines) sponsor ministries to expatriates by forming fellowships among them. Very few have incorporated these fellowships into the mainstream of the congregation to constitute a multi-ethnic church. Rather the majority has kept them as fellowships or has “hived them off” to form autonomous ethnic churches to reach their own compatriots.  Most significant may be a mission agency in Malaysia that ministered among Vietnamese workers there, and have their converts return to their homeland to start churches among UPGs there.  Many ministries to international students have also seen great results as their converts returned to their homelands after graduation to start ministries there.

Strategy #2: Church Growth Through Cell Multiplication

A new phenomenon since the 1980s is the rise of “cell churches,” esp. mega-churches in the cities of Asia and the world. They started as “churches with cells,” mainly with the strategy of Yoido Full Gospel Church founded in 1958 by David Yonggi Cho in Seoul, Korea.

Then in the 1990s, “seeker-friendly churches” (popularized by Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Church and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in U.S.A.) combined with the “cell-church” (two-winged: celebration on Sundays and small groups on weekdays only) aimed to grow “churches of cells,” popularized by Lawrence Khong in Singapore then.  A more recent strategy has focused on multiplying leaders for these cells, called “Groups of 12” (G-12) developed by Cesar Castellanos in Bogota, Colombia (now adopted by some churches and denominations in Asia), “Discipleship-group of 12” (D-12) by Christ’s Commission Fellowship (Manila), “Wiki-church” by Victory Christian Fellowship (Manila), and most recently “Disciplemaking church” of Edmund Chan’s Covenant Evangelical Free Church (Singapore).

The benchmark of this growth strategy is “cell multiplication.” Through a carefully planned lay leadership training program, the church is able to mobilize a good number of their church members to lead cell groups (called care groups, discipleship groups, prayer groups, etc.) in their places of residence, work, study and even recreation. Since most of these churches are theologically Pentecostal-charismatic, they also emphasize “power evangelism” or “signs and wonders” as they pray for miraculous healing and other spiritual manifestations, like tongues, “resting in (or slain by) the Spirit,” etc.). In association with other independent (and mostly also with the same theological bent) ministers and churches, they wage “spiritual warfare” as they jointly seek to evangelize and make disciples in their locality.

All of these “churches with cells” and attempted “churches of cells” therefore differ much in their strategy from Strategy #1. They are simpler by emphasizing only two major activities: cell multiplication and “seeker-friendly celebration” for local evangelism, and “modeling” and “church-planting” for foreign mission. As seen above, such simplicity is often just an ideal at the start, but often quickly gets complicated (and expensive!) to maintain, since the varied demands of the increasing number of members require really gifted leadership and management skills that require huge budgets.

Perhaps the best model of this type that approximates a movement may be that of Victory Christian Fellowship (Philippines) that has aimed to plant a “wiki-church” in every major city among the 55 countries in Asia.  Through its Every Nation Leadership Institute, it has trained church-planters who can start and nurture their cell-church approach, as short-termers, tentmakers or career missionaries.  They have already formed branches in about 40 nations, including Muslim- and Communist-dominated ones.

Strategy #3: Church Growth Through Intentional Church-Planting

The third mission strategy is that of intentional (or saturation) church-planting, which has been nurtured by the national movements in the Global Church Planting Network. A local church (or denomination) can envision and plan to start new churches in other areas through sending individual church-planters or church-planting teams, some even as big as an entire section of a congregation. The goal is to expand the presence, influence and ministry of the church to other communities, regions and nations. Oftentimes, the resultant church-plants become satellite churches or daughter churches which will eventually become sister-churches of the mother (or sending) churches.

The usual practice of church-planters is to do house-to-house visits, usually after some evangelistic event (like an evangelistic rally, healing crusade, etc.) to gain some contacts. The objective is to work towards the conversion and baptism of about twenty-five adults through evangelistic Bible studies and discipleship classes. A new church is considered “planted” or established when a consistent number of baptized believers can choose their own leaders (self-governing) to raise their own budget (self-supporting) to fund their expenses for a pastor, property/facilities and activities to keep Sunday worship services and evangelistic programs going (self-propagating).

With the rise and spread of “saturation evangelism” strategy of Discipling A Whole Nation (DAWN) movement developed by Jim Montgomery in the Philippines in the mid-1970s, the saturation church-planting (SCP) strategy has been introduced in many countries. “Church multiplication” or “church planting movements” (CPM) are being encouraged, to purposively escalate the number of churches being established within a period of time. Many evangelical denominations and national council of churches have adopted this vision and strategy. The outstanding ones in Asia (e.g., Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, and most recently Thailand) have aimed to organize churches which can reproduce or “give birth” to another church within 3-5 years. The goal is to work with other churches to saturate a region with churches in each municipality.  From my research, the Assemblies of God has been the main denomination that has most successfully used this strategy in the last two decades.

A recent trend is the use of a more holistic approach to church-planting, esp. among the urban poor. The initiative usually comes from Christian development organizations (CDOs) or mission agencies with holistic orientation. They work towards planting churches among the poor through incarnational workers (usually lay, with some community development training) who will eventually pass on the leadership of the new church to a local church or a pastor.

Strategy #4: Church Multiplication Through Church Planting Movements

Yet these three Church Growth strategies (including the mega-church kind) has not made any significant impact on the Muslim Ummah (community), Hindu castes, Communist lands, and Buddhist areas yet.  As our Lord’s Great Commission includes discipling these major blocs of people groups, which strategy will be effective in reaching these UPGs today that will bear fruit and even much fruit among them?

Thankfully there are Asian movements that are using two other mission strategies that have developed in recent years.  Though the concept of “total church mobilization” predates Lausanne 1974, it is only in the last two decades that this has become a concrete reality seen in various “church planting movements” (CPM) in Asia and the world. They view that the above three strategies, though used of God in the past and will continue to be used in the future, will not be able to reach the world for Christ, since they fail to use the full potential of the whole church to evangelize and multiply churches among the nations, esp. the UPGs.

This fourth strategy called “Church Multiplication through CPMs” aims to have every Christian equipped to be a disciple-maker (in any place) and tentmaker (in cross-cultural contexts). Theologically, this is based on the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Practically, besides the few who are called to be church-supported leaders, every believer can be a local “lay pastor” and/or a cross-cultural “lay missionary.” They can lead churches not just in their places of residence, but also in their places of work or study.

For this to be doable and duplicable, the key is to intentionally limit the size of churches, about 20 adults as maximum number per church; hence they have often been called “house churches” (in fact, this is the only type of church in the New Testament!) or any designation according to the venue of their meetings, such as “office churches,” “campus churches,” etc.  The small size makes it simple for ordinary people to participate and lead, as well as makes it flexible and humanly manageable. In many situations, this makes the church persecution-proof and poverty-proof. After all, the full presence of Christ is among them, even if only two or three are gathered in his name (Mt. 18:20)!

Yet most importantly, the small size allows a simple body-life that develops transparency and mutual ministry in informal face-to-face relationships (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26). Believers are automatically trained “on the job” to become leaders as they learn to discover and use their spiritual gifts, participate in discussions and ministries, as well as take turns in leading group activities. Only discipled believers can reproduce and multiply (evangelize and disciple others); and disciples are made only in small groups with “high touch” relationships!

Thus, evangelism happens naturally through friendships that are formed. The fastest CPM today is “Training for Trainers” (T4T), where a tentmaker equipped his disciples to share their testimonies with their friends and kin, and once any of their contacts becomes a convert, they are incorporated into a “house church” and trained to also share their testimonies with their friends and kin… and so forth! Those who have learned to do such “friendship evangelism” and lead “house churches” become export-quality servant-leaders: they can be sent by God to any place in the world (with some cross-cultural training by their disciplers) and make disciple-makers there also.

Cross-cultural mission happens naturally also as believers relocate for work as business people, managers, teachers, medical personnel, care-givers, seamen, even domestic helpers. Gladly, many of the global and Asian Christian development organizations and their partner networks are working with this mission approach already.  Most have developed into “house-church networks” (HCN) that empower the so-called laity to become “lay pastors” (disciple-makers) locally and “lay missionaries” (tentmakers) cross-culturally.  Many missionaries from the West (esp. North America), the Philippines and Indonesia have begun to shift to using this strategy in many regions today, too.

Strategy #5: Kingdom Expansion Through Disciple Multiplication Movements

Yet many CPMs (Strategy #4) are struggling to multiply as much as they should.  There has been another mission strategy called the “disciple multiplication movement” (DMM), which aims to produce “people movements,” especially using the best practices of community organizing and high contextualization strategies, which is also labeled “insider movements” (IM) nowadays. (For those familiar with the C1-C6 spectrum discussion in Western missiology, CPMs are generally C4, while DMMs and IMs are C5 and C6).

In my estimation, this fifth strategy is advocated and practiced by 80% of the house church movements (HCM) in Asia. The leaders in the HCMs in Asia have been organized and meeting informally since 2006, and found like-minded partners in the various lay-focused movements, like campus ministries (esp. Navigators), marketplace or workplace ministry, business-as-mission and tentmaker movements globally, as well as mission agencies (mainly Western, mostly in the International Orality Network) that do CPMs that avoid “church planting.” The leaders of all these movements have started to meet annually in conferences held by Asian Frontier Missions Initiative since 2007.  Perhaps the most intentional movement of this type is the Philippine Missions Mobilization Movement that seeks to bless the nations by training and commissioning a million diaspora Filipinos to be tentmaker (and about 5,000 career) missionaries to catalyze DMMs where they live and work.

Believing that God desires His people to effectively bring all peoples to inherit eternal life and enjoy abundant life (= shalom/peace in Old Testament, and Kingdom of God in New Testament) as they obey Him as their Creator and Master through their faith in His Son Jesus Christ, it seems most reasonable to believe that He thus made a simple plan for world redemption by which all peoples and nations will be made into followers of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit – without extracting them from their community.

This strategy works for “kingdom expansion” or “societal transformation,” by which the individuals, families, communities and institutions in our nations will be discipled to repent of their sins and build Christ-following communities that are growing in righteousness and justice marked by self-giving love (Greek: agape).  These Christ-centered individuals and families will be “incarnated” in the structures of their communities, naturally rising to servant leadership roles as they love and serve their neighbors in practical ways. As they facilitate the holistic development of their neighborhood, they transform their proximate communities “from the inside out” as they share their blessings as servant-partners with other communities in establishing shalom where they live and work.

To achieve this objective, DMMs seek to simply follow the missionary method of Christ and the apostles called “disciple-making,” as they model servant leadership, which persuades and equips people to live according to God’s will voluntarily, whether the church constitutes the majority or the “overwhelming minority” (Mk.10:42-45; 1 Pet.5:1-3). Every Christ-follower is discipled to make their own disciples, through holistic and transformational ministries, which include both friendship evangelism and socio-political action, with signs and wonders (Mt.28:18-20; Lk.4:18f; Rom.15:18f; 1 Pet.2:9f) that will result in family and community conversions to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

DMMs and HCMs aim to catalyze “people movements” that equip disciples to multiply simple “biblical Christianity” — contextualized, holistic and transformational “indigenous churches” that are truly replicable: self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating and self-theologizing.  They will be planting “churches” that will be copied by future generations of Christians, so they should avoid transplanting denominational churches (= complex Christianity = Christendom) which are often non-contextual (= foreign-looking), hence have almost always produced marginalized Christians who are separated from their communities — despised and rejected by their family and friends, not only because of the Gospel but also because of their extra-biblical forms/traditions, often unknowingly, resulting from “extraction evangelism.”  This is to follow Apostle Paul’s instructions to expatriate missionaries to consider their hosts as masters, and to “become all things to all people” (1 Cor.9:19-23), and to local Christ-followers to retain and then develop holistically from their professional and socio-religious identities (1 Cor.7:17-24).  Many Christian development agencies have been doing this community-based non-extractive approach for some time already – often unintentionally due to the requirements of government and other secular fund sources.

This raises the challenge for us: Are we ready to recognize Christ-worshippers who trust and obey Him as Lord within their socio-religious (read: non-Christendom) contexts? Can we welcome Christ-followers whose socio-religious identities remain Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Communist?  I really hope so, even if many of us will be very hesitant. Let us be reminded that most of our Christendom forms and practices have developed from those of European tribes which were converted to Christ through “people movements” without being extracted from their socio-religious identities, as these also happened in the evangelization of the Christianized populations in South India, the Philippines, Northeast India, Myanmar, Indonesia and most Pacific islands.

Conclusion

As shown above, most churches and missions have been using mission strategies that have systematically hindered our obedience to reach the nations for Jesus. The past four decades since Lausanne 1974 have seen improvements in the outreach programs of many local churches (Strategy #1) and the development of new strategies, like cell multiplication (Strategy #2) and intentional church-planting (Strategy #3). Yet we have also seen the (re)discovery of two strategies that have the potential of truly mobilizing  the whole church for global missions – through house church multiplication by mobilizing all believers to be disciple-makers or tentmakers for CPMs (Strategy #4), and most effectively through contextualized community-based CPMs, called DMMs (Strategy #5).  Let’s turn Christian-led houses and offices into “church buildings,” and church buildings into community ministry centers, managed by the local network of house churches, each with their own unique ministry contributions in their contexts.

Even if most of our churches would hesitate to make this paradigm shift themselves, they should at least start to encourage and support Strategy #4 and Strategy #5 ministries which aim at replicating “people movements” to Christ.  As far as simple mathematics go, it is the only hope we have to finish the Great Commission as soon as possible.  Let’s aim not only for more missional programs and activities, but also for quality missional results and effectiveness. Just compare the potential for evangelistic and transformational impact in a nation or a people group and their missionary outreach to the unchurched locally and the UPGs cross-culturally: one church of 200,000 members (Strategy #2), or 100 churches of 2,000 members each (Strategy #1), or 1,000 churches of 200 members each (Strategy #3), or 10,000 churches of 20 members each (Strategy #4), or 40,000 churches of 5 members each (Strategy #5).  In my estimation, the average annual growth rate for each strategy differs: 10% for Strategy #1, 20% for Strategy #2, 30% for Strategy#3, 60% for Strategy #4, and 100% or more for Strategy #5.

May we develop mission movements that focus on church multiplication through CPMs (Strategy #4) and most especially on kingdom expansion through DMMs (Strategy #5) to effectively reach Asia and the world in our generation.  May the Asian church be mobilized to share the gospel effectively and strategically with our neighbors and the world “…and then the end will come” (Mt.24:14).  Maranatha!

Comments (5)

House Church Movements in Asia

How do the house church movements (HCM) in Asia look like? How do they live out their vision and mission? Here is a set of answers from the perspective of an Asian (Chinese-Filipino) house church leader who has been trained as a biblical theologian, and has been advocating for HCM in Asia. I started teaching in 1987 at Asian Theological Seminary about “Servant Church” in contrast to Christendom church when I returned from my Ph.D. studies, esp. as I taught “Transformation Theology” from 1988-1991 there. When I returned from Oxford in 1994 as a mission mobilizer for China, I focused on partnering with the HCM in China, and training Filipino tentmakers to catalyze “Disciple Multiplication Movements (DMMs)” in the gateway cities of China, while becoming a practitioner-advocate of “Church Planting Movements (CPM)” and “Insider Movements (IM)” by 1998. I started practicing “house churching” fully since 2001, and have been serving as one of the coordinators of the HCM in the Philippines and Asia since 2005.

Most of the key leaders in the HCM in Asia have been meeting annually since 2006 in regional and continental summits to pray, fellowship and plan together on how to make disciples of all the peoples and nations of their vastly unevangelized continent and beyond. Asia continues to have the most number of unreached people groups living in regions dominated by major religious faiths and political ideologies with almost negligible Christian influence. Can the Christ-following minorities of Asia really reach out to our Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Communist, and secular humanist neighbors effectively, so that the Great Commission can be fulfilled among them, even in our generation? The Asian HCM believe that by God’s grace, they can be the major force in Asia’s harvest in partnership with churches in their respective neighborhoods and countries.

Our Vision: Kingdomization or Societal Transformation

We believe that God desires His people to bring all peoples to inherit eternal life and enjoy abundant life (= shalom/peace) as they obey Him as their Creator and Master through their faith in His Son Jesus Christ. He thus made a simple plan for world redemption called “disciple multiplication movements” (DMM) by which all peoples and nations will be made into disciples/followers of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. By His grace, we will seek to work with all Jesus-followers to realize His reign on earth until He returns to set up His eternal kingdom (Rev. 11:1). We chose as our slogan at our first Leaders Summit in 2006: “Unify, Simplify, Multiply.”

We pray and work for “kingdomization” or “societal transformation,” by which the individuals, families, communities and institutions in our nations will be discipled to relate with each other and with other communities with biblical (= God’s kingdom) norms and values. We seek to build Christ-following communities that are growing in righteousness and justice marked by self-giving love (Greek: agape). Righteousness refers to right/moral relationships (usually using one word: “love”) between persons which promote goodness and discourage evil. And justice (which is “love in the public sphere”) denotes moral relationships where every person and community is empowered (given the authority, democratic space and skills) to participate actively in determining their destiny for the common good to the glory of God.

These Christ-centered individuals and communities will be living in harmony and cooperation, and empowered by their leaders (both religious and secular) who serve as facilitators in the holistic development of their personal and communal lives, so they can share their blessings as partners with other communities in establishing peace (shalom) in every nation, region and world.

As individuals, people will mature spiritually to trust solely in Christ and Him alone, their faith will ultimately develop simple religiosity, each living for God’s glory in obedience to His will. They will be active in community services, with less and less need for religious services (Isa. 58:1-12; Mic. 6:6-8; Amos 5:21-24; Js. 2:14-26; 1 Jn. 3:16-18, etc.). With confidence of having everything good in Christ (for God is always near and loves them forever), they will walk with Jesus humbly with a disciple-making lifestyle without having to act religious or do much religious rituals (cf. Matt. 6:1-18)!

Our Mission: Disciple Multiplication/Insider Movements

To achieve this vision, we seek to follow the missionary method of Christ and the apostles called “disciple-making,” as we model servant leadership, which persuades and equips people to live according to God’s will voluntarily rather than coerces or disempowers them, whether the church constitutes the majority or the “overwhelming minority” (Mk. 10:42-45; 1 Pet. 5:1-3). As Christ-followers, we aim to evangelize and disciple all peoples in all societies to follow his will, as people of His Peace (OT: shalom) or His kingdom of light, through holistic/transformational ministries, which include both evangelism and socio-political action, with signs and wonders (Mt. 28:18-20; Lk. 4:18-19; Rom. 15:18-19; 1 Pet. 2:9-10) that will result in family and community conversions to Christ.

We believe that every new convert to Christ can be discipled to evangelize and disciple the nations! The Great Commission is given to all believers. This is the priesthood of every believer in real action (1 Pet. 2:9-10; cf. Exod. 19:5-6). Each believer can and should be discipled to become a disciple-maker. It is possible to plant and program the right DNA into new converts, so that they will grow and develop into reproducing Christians for the rest of their life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To disciple means to equip others with just three relational skills: (a) hearing God through prayerful meditation to turn His word (logos) into a word (rhema) to be obeyed; (b) making disciples through leading a house or simple church in Bible reflection and sharing, thereby each one learns how to do personal devotions (or “Quiet Time” = lectio divina) with fellow believers; and (c) doing friendship evangelism to share what they learn of God and His will with their networks of non-believing kin and friends.

These millions of reproducing believers can be produced through mentoring (or better, “discipling”) by disciple-makers (= servant-leaders) who seek to equip all believers (cf. Eph. 4:11-16) right in their house church meetings, usually in their residences and workplaces, for a season. This is called the disciple multiplication movement (DMM), which aims to produce “people movements,” especially if combined with Community Development and C-5 (high contextualization) strategies, which is labeled “insider movements” (IM) nowadays. (Please refer to the “Appendix” for the biblical basis for IM). Thus we have found like-minded partners in the various lay-led movements, like campus evangelism (esp. Navigators), marketplace ministry, business-as-mission and tentmaker movements globally, as well as mission agencies (mainly Western, mostly in the International Orality Network) that do “church planting movements” (CPM) that avoid “church planting.”

In most Asian HCM, we emphasize that our mission strategy is to plant “people movements” that equip disciples to multiply simple “biblical Christianity” — contextualized, holistic and transformational “indigenous churches” that are truly replicable: self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating and self-theologizing. They will be planting “churches” that will be copied by future generations of Christians, so they should avoid transplanting denominational churches (= complex Christianity) which are often non-contextual (= foreign-looking), hence have almost always produced marginalized Christians who are separated from their communities — despised and rejected by their family and friends, not because of the Gospel but because of their extra-biblical forms/traditions, perhaps often unknowingly, resulting from “extraction evangelism.”

So, we prefer that they will not encourage their disciples to attend an international fellowship or denominational church, if there is any, perhaps except in special occasions. They should just focus on making disciples and multiplying “simple churches,” for where two or three believers are gathered prayerfully, there is the church (Matt. 18:19-20)! They should encourage their disciples to just “gossip Jesus” and form small “disciple-making groups” among their friends and kin in their neighborhoods and work-places. They are to just do this spiritual “network marketing” of the Gospel from city to city – till the whole world knows and obeys Jesus!

Our Structure: National House Church Networks

The Christian world came to know about house churches mainly through the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution (1966-69) in China when the almost extinguished Christianity (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) emerged as “unregistered churches” in the rural areas and some cities. Most of these networks have grown exponentially to as large as 7-8 million, especially in the central and southern provinces of China, and estimated to be about 100-130 million strong nationwide by 2010.

When we convened in Manila for the first house church leaders summit in 2006, we knew that 75% of these house church networks are mainly “micro-churches” or “mini-churches” that have the clergy-led, hierarchical and “edifice complex” ecclesiology, so that if religious freedom comes to China, they will be building Christendom structures as soon as possible, as is evident in many cities and regions of China since 1990’s. Six of them were providentially present at the summit as they joined 40 others from other countries: Philippines, Indonesia, India, South Korea, and U.S.A.

One from China was a former college professor who started a Bible study with his 3 students at the University of Beijing but it had grown to 300 people. All these students came from non-Christian background. Another shared that way back in 1953, the HCM in his region started when all foreign missionaries were kicked out, pastors put in prison and buildings were confiscated. This was the first time when they experienced to share their life together in their homes, share their favorite Bible passages, experience the guidance of the Holy Spirit, open their lives to one another, cling to one another for support because of persecution, pray, cry, encourage each other together with their families and relatives, but the legal number should not exceed 20. Normally, these gatherings lasted from 10pm to 3am! Each group leader reports to the leaders-in-charge for accountability. He and his companions have 5 million saints in their constituency!

We also listened to the testimonies of my two co-convenors: Mitsuo Fukuda from Japan started his ministry from traditional church and tried to transition to house church but it was so hard to do it; so he gave it up. Then he looked for young guys to do house church, but he failed again. He then decided to start house church planting by going directly to non-believers, and by God’s grace he planted almost 100 house churches in two years! And a New Zealander (NZ) based in Hongkong (HK), Robin Corner started a cell church in NZ but it didn’t work because the Gospel made hardly any sense to secularized people. But when he went to HK, he applied Acts 2 to start a house church there. He discovered that what matters most is relationships – loving God and loving one another by spending more time with people, with no structure and by modeling what he wants to produce.

There were 25 others from the Philippines at the summit, each with their unique testimonies. A prominent leader was Molong Nacua who shared that the Lord talked to him through Bible meditation and a vision about “homes everywhere.” So he obeyed this message from God and started encouraging their church members to become house churches. But only 5 people remained in the house church and majority of them left. After learning some lessons and by God’s grace, after a year they had 13 house church networks planted in different areas with 180 saints. He also started a house church for street children by inviting them to their home and offering them some food to eat. While eating, he shared some Bible passages according to their needs and one by one these kids responded positively to the Gospel. He and almost all leaders of the Phil. HCM use the internet and esp. Facebook to promote the vision and to make disciples, too.

I joined Molong and Eman Abrea in convening the first Phil. House church leaders summit in 2005, a few months before we hosted the first Asian house church summit in 2006. Since then HC network leaders in the Philippines have met annually in 20-30 participant summits to encourage one another and plan together for expanding the movement nationwide and beyond. We have met in Quezon City (2007), Cebu (2008), Cagayan de Oro (2009, when we started to appoint “the 12” and “the 7”), Tagaytay (2010, when we decided to form a non-government organization called “House2House”), Valencia (2011, when we adopted the name “Star Grass Coalition”), and Novaliches (2012, when we chose “healthy lifestyle” and “organic farming” as our entrees into communities; the latter is similar to “apostolic gardens” of the largest Indian HCM today).

At the first Asian summit, we also learned that among ourselves there were already several HCM training modules ready for use across Asia: Bruce Carlton’s “Project Thessalonica,” Tony Dale’s “Getting Started” with DVD, my “Tentmakers Crash Course,” Roberto Claro’s “A Higher Purpose,” Robin Corner’s “ Simple Church,” OMF-Philippines’ “Jonathan Project,” Navigators’ “Insider Ministry,” Center for Community Transformation (CCT)’s field visits to their house-fellowships, and various Chinese HC Trainings. Most significant regular training may be Claro’s “A Higher Purpose” that trains overseas Filipino workers to form “circles of three” wherever they go in Asia or elsewhere. This has been going on since 2003, and since 2009, the Phil. Missions Mobilization Movement envisions a million such cross-cultural disciple-makers to catalyze DMM wherever they live and work.

61 delegates from 13 countries (now with the addition of Australia and Vietnam) made it to the 2nd HCM summit HK in 2007. The conference started with all delegates introducing themselves, followed by a general discussion on what topics everyone wanted to discuss. Concurrent sessions were organized around the general topic headings which emerged during the discussion. These sessions were followed by a training session on how HC meetings were conducted in India in the networks coordinated by Victor & Bindhu Choudhrie and their team. Country reports were followed by times of prayer for each country (including those were not represented at the summit). Each day started with worship and prayer, during which some prophetic words were shared. Powerful times of prayer were also experienced on Friday morning, Friday evening and Saturday morning. Equally important were free times when the delegates simply took time to build relationships and get to know each other. Thursday and Friday afternoons were both left free so that this could occur. On Friday afternoon everyone went to the beach and on a walk together. Finally on the last morning a business meeting was held to discuss future directions.

The 3rd summit was held in 2008 in Bandung, Indonesia, where a number of CPM and IM were spreading (not much can be shared due to security concern). It turned out to be almost a global one, with more than 80 participants and the presence of Wolfgang Simson (Germany), Wolfgang Fernandez (Latin America), and a “cell church” leader, Ben Wong (HK). Much time was given to listening to messages from these recognized leaders, and discussing and praying in response to them. Some of us were able to visit some IM leaders in the area and in Jakarta. Indonesian delegates came and went, and simultaneous translation of messages and conversations highlighted the challenge of cultural diversity in Asia. As we accepted India’s offer to host the next summit, we discerned that it was time to call for an international one. (It was around this time that I learned of the Asia Frontier Missions Initiative that seeks to advance IM in Asia).

So in November 2009, the Indian network of Victor Choudhrie hosted the Global HCM Leaders Summit in New Delhi, where every continent was represented among the 135 participants. From Asia, we missed the delegations from, but heard good reports of CPMs in Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Middle East and Central Asia. A representative from each country served in the “steering group,” as we sought God’s guidance on how to fulfill our vision and mission most effectively. (This group met again a few months thereafter in Kuala Lumpur, and discerned to focus on catalyzing CMM/DMM in Africa for the next two years). At the continental sessions, the Asian participants decided to hold leaders’ summits according to countries in 2010 and three regions in 2011 before convening the fourth Asia-wide summit in 2012.

And so in August 2012, 35 participants made it to the 4th Asian HCM leaders summit in Tokyo, Japan. This time we had participants from Nepal, Singapore, Cambodia and Central Asia, with some from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan not making it due to visa problems. On the first day, we were treated to the easily replicable Japan-developed “Upward, Outward, Inward” (UOI) training facilitated by a Central Asian and a missionary-to-Japan trainer; thereafter the Indian delegation promised to share this UOI training across South Asia. Then we also learned from the reports from those networks that were effectively reaching poor communities through combining DMMs with community development approaches. As we adjourned, the Japanese HC networks held their national summit focusing on how those who witnessed and got involved in the dramatic breakthrough after the earthquake-tsunami disaster last March 2011 (with testimonies of Jesus appearing in dreams and visions) can turn the HCM in the affected northeastern region into a national movement!

Due to security concerns, many details of HCM in restricted countries cannot be shared in this article. Across Asia today, HCM and IM are producing transformational communities that are led by local Christ-followers who have not been extracted from their relational and religious communities. We look forward to holding our 5th summit in February 2014, most probably in Bangkok, and the Southeast Asian region may hold one in mid-2013. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the HCM in Asia will catalyze IM in Asia and beyond, for we believe that the harvest is indeed plentiful (Matt. 9:37-38) and our King Jesus is indeed building His church and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it (16:18-19)! Let’s finish the Great Commission together in our generation!

Appendix: Societal Transformation through Insider Movements

Jesus actually initiated a global HCM through “Insider Movements” (IM). His church multiplication movement (CMM) or better, disciple multiplication movement (DMM) was radically contextualized – Jews multiplying disciples among Jews without creating another organized religious system parallel or counter to the synagogue (of early Judaism). He did not intend to found a new religion, though his simple spiritual transformation became a complex religious institution later on. He even had converts in Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and perhaps through them, Gamaliel, who were entrenched in the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish socio-political structure of his time!).

The early Christians followed his pattern. They reached out to their compatriots as Jews to Jews within the Temple and synagogue structures of Jewish society, and just met “from house to house,” evangelizing and discipling a few households at a time. Within a few years of such IM, they had literally turned the Roman Empire upside down (Ac. 17:6 KJV). They did not create a clergy class, nor construct (or even rent) a religious building nor hold regular religious services, except to break bread weekly in their homes. It was the teaching and practice of the apostle Paul (perhaps the best model of a cross-cultural missionary) not to plant a growing “local church,” but an indigenous disciple-making movement in house churches that are formed by converts who did not have to be dislocated from their homes and communities (1 Cor. 7:17-24). With just seven years of three missionary journeys of consistent contextualization (“becoming all things to all men,” 1 Cor. 9:19-23), he claimed that he had no more regions to evangelize “from Jerusalem to Illyricum” (Rom.15:18-20, cf. Acts 19:1-10)!

This New Testament practice is not different from that of Old Testament (OT) Israel, which shows God’s design and structure for a reached, discipled or transformed people:

1) There were no local shrines or temples in each village or town.

(2) There were no weekly Sabbath worship services (“synagogues” as multi-purpose community centers came later in 200 B.C. for teaching Diaspora Jews).

(3) There were no weekly nor monthly collection of tithes and offerings. 1 Cor. 16:1-4 shows weekly collection in the early church were mainly for immediate local needs, esp. of widows and orphans (cf. Ac. 6:1; Js. 1:27).

(4) There were no “full-time” clergy. The levitical priests were provided not just with cities, but also with pasturelands (Josh. 21). They were not exempt from being stewards of God’s resources, thus they were shepherds and cowboys to provide livestock products for their neighbors and nation (cf. 2 Thess. 3:6-10). This was how the priests learned to be expert butchers for animal sacrifices in the Temple.

(5) The OT Jews were required to celebrate communally as a people in the national Temple (note: God’s original design was a portable and transportable Tabernacle) only three times a year: Passover (= Holy Week), Pentecost (= church anniversary of each community) and Tabernacles (= Christmas or Harvest festival) (Dt. 16:16).

(6) The actual teaching and obedience of the “way of God’s righteousness” and the commemoration of the Passover Meal were in the homes (Dt. 6:1-11)!

Biblical Christianity is therefore structured as a network of simple churches (usually called “house churches”). It is not “churchless Christianity” nor “religionless Christianity, but “simple Christianity.” Its mission is to reproduce simple groups of Christ-worshippers/followers without elaborate religiosity. Thus the mission statement of the Philippine house church movement is: “to multiply God’s church throughout the world, one household at a time.” This seeks to fulfill God’s covenants with Abraham that through him every family on earth will be blessed (Gen. 12:3, cf. Gal. 3:14, 29), and with Israel that she will be a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6, cf. 1 Pet. 2:9-10).

Comments (1)

Effective Disciple-making Made Simple

Effective Disciple-making Made Simple (Luke 10:1-9)

We all know that God desires to save all peoples of the world (2 Pet.3:9; 1 Tim.2:3-4). If this is so, we can assume that His mission strategy to win the world and disciple the nations must not be complex, but simple.  It must be so simple so that the good news can spread and multiply rapidly through ordinary people, even without need for much training.

This is confirmed in the New Testament (NT) in the mission strategies of Jesus Christ and the early Christians, especially Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles (all non-Jews).  Jesus Christ trained 12 disciples and within 40 years they’ve evangelized as far east as India (by Thomas), as far north as Moscow (by Andrew), as far south as Ethiopia (by Matthew), as Paul and his apostolic team (including Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy, Titus, Epaphras, etc) had covered in eight years, the Roman Empire “from Jerusalem to Illyricum” (Rom.15:18-20, cf. Ac.19:1-10).

How did they do it? What was this simple yet effective mission strategy? Let us see how Jesus trained the disciples to do it, in Luke 10:1-9. He trained them to do “disciple-making” to reach Galileans, and after the resurrection He commissioned them to do the same to all peoples: “make disciples of all nations…” (Mt.28:18-20).

In Luke 10, the “72 others” (not including the original 12) were trained to do pioneering ministry: “where he was about to go” (v.1).  They were told that the harvest was plentiful (v.2) or ripe for reaping (Jn.4:35; cf. 2 Cor.6:2), and indeed they returned with joy, “Mission successful” (v.17). They cast out demons even if they were not instructed nor trained to do so!  And also they were told that it was a perilous mission. They were sent “as lambs among wolves” (v.3)!

Yet they were able to effectively make disciples for Jesus, without having to go back and do follow-up. Even in a cross-cultural situation, Jesus discipled Sychar city in two days without having to go back or leave any disciple to do further follow-up (Jn.4)!  To do effective disciple-making, Jesus gave them only three main instructions: Go simply, go strategically and go servantly!

Go simply.  “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals” (v.4a). The disciple-makers needed to just bring their bare necessities without having to bring extra luggage. God can (and often does) use ordinary people to make disciples in ordinary and simple ways.  No need to be sophisticated or “high tech” which often complicates one’s lifestyle, hereby making one look affluent thus unapproachable. What’s required in disciple-making is hi-touch, and often hi-tech diverts time from forming relationships and making friends.  Today’s tentmakers (cross-cultural disciple makers) just need to bring their Bibles, without having to bring Bible dictionaries and commentaries!

Go strategically. “Do not greet anyone on the road.  When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him… Stay in that house; eating and drinking whatever they give you…” (vv.4b-7).

The disciplers were told to focus and not be delayed or diverted from the master plan: just find a “person of peace,” and live with him/her and disciple him and through him, his family and friends! Enjoy his hospitality and share your “walk with Jesus” with him/her. In Jewish culture, visiting Jews are hosted by someone whose house has an upper room – for free for the first two days and on the third day, (s)he must help the host in his livelihood – let him who does not work, not eat! For natural entry and support in Jewish and Gentile communities Apostle Paul and his team had a tentmaking micro-business to share Jesus among them. Paul intentionally had a “secular” livelihood, in order to be model “work ethic” to his converts and disciples (2 Th.3:7-10). That’s why historically, the best missionaries (including “the father of modern missions” William Carey) were tentmakers!

Go servantly. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat whatever is set before you.  Heal the sick… and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you’” (vv.8-9).  They were to serve their host family and the community with the talents and gifts that they had.  Today, we can do friendship (or lifestyle or relational) evangelism while doing holistic ministry. Serve the people in their physical needs (esp. healing), psychological needs (esp. counseling), social needs (esp. community organizing) and spiritual needs (through prayer and Bible reflection in small groups).

Again, note that they did not have to bring outside resources which is often used unwisely and often turns the provider into an unwitting patron-dictator and the recipients into perennial dependents (beggars!). Unless done with much care and wisdom/expertise, outsiders and their resources often disempower rather than empower!  In fact the community (and even rural tribals) had survived and thrived even for centuries without outside help! The fact that a community exists show they have local resources to sustain them!

There is almost a 100% guarantee of success because if one can’t find a “person of peace” in a specific context, the disciple-maker can just move on to the next one (vv.10-15)! But if one finds a “person of peace” as will happen 95% of the time, following the disciple-making strategy as closely as possible will catalyze a spontaneous expansion of the Kingdom of God — an insider movement facilitated by a local leader to disciple his/her people!

Thus, the outsider just needs to disciple a local “person of peace”! To disciple is to Model, Assist, Watch, and Leave (M.A.W.L.).  Disciple-makers just need to model three skills that should form their disciples’ DNA like Jesus did (Mark 3:13-15). (1) Gather a small group (maximum of 12) to share life as fellow members of God’s global family. (2) Reflect together prayerfully on what it means to obey Jesus through Bible meditation – thereby teaching one another how to handle God’s Word individually; in short, how to have personal devotions to experience God “day and night.” And (3) Go to their relatives and/or friends to share Jesus and His powerful presence with them; in short, do friendship evangelism and discipling.

Once the discipler sees that his disciple can facilitate prayerful and practical Bible sharing with fellow believers, meditate regularly on God’s Word and obey what (s)he learns and share his/her faith with non-believers, (s)he can leave and go to make disciples in another people/context. (S)He must leave to prove that his/her disciple has truly been empowered – authorized to make their own disciples, as Paul instructed: “And the things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim.2:2).

This is quality discipleship, in contrast to the dominant “church growth” strategy that implants “church-goer” DNA in new believers who become “church officers/ministers” at best and nominal “Sunday Christians” at worst. Disciple-making strategy expects each new convert to quickly learn how to self-feed (self-theologize) from God’s Word, self-grow with other believers and self-reproduce in nonbelievers.  The aim is to produce mature believers whose Christ-like character is to love and serve others (Col.1:28-29; Lk.14:25-33) quickly demonstrated and tested under the guidance of the discipler.  Each disciple is expected to multiply like each cell in our body, and like each part of a starfish that can grow into another starfish!

Simple, isn’t it?  But most of us have to unlearn the “traditions of the elders” of our local church and denomination.  Let’s just go back to the simple mission strategy of Jesus – to multiply quality Christians effectively by simply multiplying disciple-makers. May each of us become an effective disciple-maker for the rest of our life – till we see all our neighbors worldwide become our brothers and sisters in Christ!

Comments (2)

Year-end Newsletter 2013

December 31, 2013

To my dearest friends,

“A belated MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR” to you!  It’s been a wonderful year – and so full that it’s now New Year’s Eve, my first time ever to write my year-end newsletter at the very last minute!  I hope that you are in the best of health, physically, financially and spiritually, as we end one more year in this fast-changing world!  In this past year, democracy remains dominant, and we end the year with the recognition of Pope Francis as Time’s (and my) “Person of the Year,” and the celebrative funeral of Nelson Mandela, although the Middle East and Africa swayed in various upheavals. Most countries in Asia (esp. China, Japan & Philippines!) continue to prosper, while the West shows clear signs of recovery from the financial crisis of 2008.  For Filipinos, it feels good to truly celebrate this season with hope for a better year ahead (a poll says 94% of us look at 2014 optimistically!), in spite the tragic earthquake in Bohol and the massive devastation caused by supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Visayas almost two months ago!  I rejoice that the elite’s unrighteousness in our land has been given full coverage by the media and has agitated the middle class to march in the streets!  We can truly sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” for His reign of justice & shalom is being realized among us (“Emmanuel”)!

As we enter the 14th year of the 21st century, the next 6 years look bright as we seek to do effective missions in our generation, even with the big challenges of militant Islam, secular humanism and consumerist materialism.  Closure to the Great Commission (Matt. 24:14) is more realistic than ever!  The paradigm shift in mission strategy from the dominant Christendom’s imperial (with wealth & power) to transformational missions’ incarnational approach (with love and good works) has become mainstream, at least in practice, and I hope soon also in missiology.  Asian Missions Advance (of the Asia Missions Association) in its latest issue (October 2013) featured my two articles: “History and Ministry of Philippine Missions Association: Leading the Global Shift to Tentmaker Missions” as well as “Asian Mission Movements in Asia Today.”

Thus I end this year with great optimism, esp. for my life-goal: “the evangelization and transformation of ASIA.”  Thanks for praying with me as I pray, “Lord, give me Asia, or I die”!  Amidst the natural disasters, increasing militarization and political turmoils, multitudes are being brought into the Kingdom through holistic and contextual “disciple multiplication movements (DMM)” in Asia and beyond!  I thank God for my 60th birthday (yes, I’m a senior citizen now!) and the warm response of all my friends to my 7-year marriage to Maria Rosel Sumagaysay (nicknamed “Marie”); she has proven to be a most wonderful partner in my life and ministry.  Jeff continues to be a simple yet effective family man and businessman; while Tsina Grace (Kibi) continues to excel in her Nursing studies at UP-Manila and in sharing leadership in her sorority there.

For me, 2013 has been a “Year of Soaring High,” esp. for my advocacy of setting up Christ-centered transformational communities (where God’s shalom/kingdom prevails) through “disciple multiplication movements” (DMM) in Asia and beyond.  Although it remains very difficult for us in the “frontier missions” movement to call the mainstream church to do DMM, I rejoice to see many more missionaries and mission leaders make the shift quite significantly in recent years. As we pray and work for more “family-oriented” and “house/simple/organic church” strategies for DMM, I’m quite sure that there will be much multiplication and exponential growth in 2014 and thereafter!

2013 has truly been the year of “soaring high” — navigating and floating at high altitude, having reached the “normal height of flying at 36,000 ft.”! I see and feel this in my 4 major involvements: 

1.  As a member of Senior Associate for Tentmaking Berit Kloster’s core group and as Board chair of  Lausanne-Philippines, I had the opportunity to be one of the 350 delegates to the Lausanne Global Leadership Forum held in Bangalore last June 17-21, as we planned for consultations to highlight the strategies that the global church must use to make a transformational impact in our generation.  I was privileged a week thereafter to present at the Asian Church Leaders Forum (organized by the Asia Lausanne in which I serve in its Executive Committee) in Seoul a paper on “(Mission Strategies of ) Asian Mission Movements in Asia Today.” This conference was held upon the request of  China’s house church leaders, who rejoiced to attend a major international conference for the first time, having missed Lausanne’s Capetown 2010.  May there be more cooperation and partnership among Asian missionaries as we seek to win the unreached in Asia at the soonest possible time.

2.  For community transformation, my school Asian School of Development and Cross-cultural Studies (ASDECS) has had our 4th batches of international graduates in our Masters in Development Management (MDM) program – 14 (for a total of 43 grads in Laos) and 10 (for a total of 37 alumni in Cambodia).  Our certificate-granting Center for Transformational Development (CTD) continue to train church and mission leaders to become change agents in their community as “elders of the city” in Cebu, Baguio, Tabaco/Legazpi and soon also to Cabanatuan. As we begin our 12th year of operations, we’re glad to be offering Bachelors in Transformational Leadership (BTL) major in Community Development, and also to launch our Ph.D. in International Development (or Asian Studies) this year! We’ll be training about 25-30 students for the Master of Arts in Community Development (MACD) major in Language Development with the Translators Association of the Phil. (TAP) starting June 2014, too. 

3.  For national transformation, the Philippine House Church Movement, now called the Star Grass Coalition, had another fruitful strategic planning summit last Aug. 15-18, this time at Babatngon, and clarified our programs in multiplying disciples and simple/organic churches across the land.  Besides our ongoing “barangay to barangay” and workplace DMM, we’re going to promote “healthy lifestyles” and “organic farming/gardening” as we seek to find and empower “persons of peace/shalom” in each community. This will be supplemented by our ongoing campaign to turn this nation into a “land of cooperatives and social enterprises” through “Investors Clubs,” where any group of up to 15 members can pool their savings together to develop a social business.  May our people learn how to become employers and not just be employees! We officially adopted the Iloilo-based NGO led by Edwin Arana, Creative Community Foundation, Inc. (CCFI) to serve as our government registered entity.  So when supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda hit the Visayas real hard, we were ready to lead Operation Hope right in “Ground Zero,” as we aim to model transformational relief and rehabilitation in 3 municipalities in Leyte for the next two years.

4.  And for global transformation, the Philippine Mission Mobilization Movement (PM3), launched our flagship program for each church to set up an “OFW ministry” desk last April 2011. In October 2013, we launched the Global OFW Advance Movement (GOAM) for churches to set up “OFW & Family Care Services” locally in their town and city, as well as globally in each Phil. Embassy or Consulate. We continue to pray and work for 5 million intercessors for the nations, 2 million trained in Tentmaker Missions, and deploy 1 million Outstanding Faithful Witnesses/missionaries by 2020.  As I finish my 3 year stint as the National Director of Phil. Missions Association (PMA) next year, I hope to hold a series of consultations on “the Best Practices of Filipino Missions,” and perhaps organize the Phil. Society of Missiology for our “reflective practitioners.”

My mission, China Ministries International-Phil. (CMI-Phil) has come to know that there are more OFWs entering China without going through any mission agencies any more.  To me this is a good sign that our seminars and trainings in PM3 are working.  Tentmakers are expected to build their support system in the land where God sends them to live and work, believing that the resources for God’s harvest are in the harvest-field!  We hope to mobilize 20 more by the end of next year.  I hope our DMM mission model will be promoted more and more as I also serve with the leaders of the Asian Frontier Missions Initiative (AFMI), Asian House Church Movement and International Council of Higher Education.

This has been another productive year of writing for me, too.  Besides the two I mentioned above, also presented or published were six:

1.  “Contextualizing the Gospel in Ancestor-Venerating Cultures.” In Melba Maggay (ed.). The Gospel in Culture: Contextualization Issues in an Asian Context.  Mandaluyong City: OMF Literature.

2.  “Developing Transformational Leaders for Church Multiplication Movements in the Buddhist World.” In Paul de Neui (ed.). Developing Indigenous Leaders: Lessons in Mission from Buddhist Asia.  Pasadena: William Carey Library.

3.  “Missiological Framework for Contextualizing Christ-Centered Communities in the Buddhist World and Beyond.” presented at SEANET’s 10th Missiological Forum, Jan. 8-9, 2013 (to be published 2014).

4.  “The House Church Movements in Asia.” Asian Missions Advance 35 (January): 3-7.

5.  “Curriculum for Economic Transformation.” William Carey International Development Journal 2.4 (October).  In http://www.wciujournal.org/journal/article/curriculum-for-economic-transformation.

6.  “Missional Discipleship in Roman Catholic Context.”  Paper presented at Asia Missions Association (AMA) 11th Triennial Convention, October 7-11, 2013 (to be published 2014).

You may write me for a copy of any of these 8 articles.  In all these, I’ve sought to promote what I believe is God’s simple (not complex) master-plan on how to disciple all nations fastest!  Though 27% of the world remains totally unreached and 86% of today’s unreached do not have a Christian friend, we can accomplish total world evangelization by equipping all Christians (esp. the 99.95% non-clergy) to exercise their royal priesthood, to intentionally befriend and make disciples of their neighbors across borders – without committing the blunder of “extraction evangelism”!  Properly trained in DMM, anyone can do community, campus and marketplace ministries to reach today’s non-Christians (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Communists, Tribals, etc.)! I’m discipling DMM’ers via email and Facebook, too!

I thank God for your partnership in the Gospel!  May I hear from you, too?  May God bless you abundantly in the new year, so that you and your family will be channels of His blessings to all who He’ll bring into your circle of influence!

With best wishes for you in 2014,

(signed) David Lim

Leave a Comment

My writings -2013

1.  “Contextualizing the Gospel in Ancestor-Venerating Cultures.” In Melba Maggay (ed.). The Gospel in Culture: Contextualization Issues in an Asian Context.  Mandaluyong City: OMF Literature.  Pp. 377-415.

2.  “Developing Transformational Leaders for Church Multiplication Movements in the Buddhist World.”  In Paul de Neui (ed.). Developing Indigenous Leaders: Lessons in Mission from Buddhist Asia.  Pasadena: William Carey Library. Pp. 83-110.

3.  “Missiological Framework for Contextualizing Christ-Centered Communities in the Buddhist World and Beyond.” Paper presented at SEANET’s 10th Missiological Forum, January 8-9, 2013 (to be published 2014).

4.  “The House Church Movements in Asia.” Asian Missions Advance 35 (January): 3-7.

5.  “Curriculum for Economic Transformation.” William Carey International Development Journal 2.4 (October).  In http://www.wciujournal.org/journal/article/curriculum-for-economic-transformation.

6.  “Missional Discipleship in Roman Catholic Context.”  Paper presented at Asia Missions Association (AMA) 11th Triennial Convention, October 7-11, 2013 (to be published 2014).

7.  “History and Ministry of Philippine Missions Association: Leading the Global Shift to Tentmaker Missions.”  Asian Missions Advance 41 (October): 2-6.

8.  “Asian Mission Movements in Asia Today.” Asian Missions Advance 41 (October): 29-36.

Leave a Comment

How Best to Evangelize China

Since the Communist takeover of China in 1949, two main kinds of churches have developed in China: the official Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM, with its partner Church of Christ in China) and the unregistered house-churches.  Both have experienced rapid church growth since the Cultural Revolution (1966-69).  Because of this, leadership training is their greatest need now.  As of 2012, there are official statistics of about 65 million Christians affiliated with TSPM churches while some observers estimate another 70-100 million in the house-churches, with tens of thousands of meeting-points and hundreds of unregistered training centers.

Those outside China who want to help in the evangelization of China immediately face the dilemma of choosing between the two groups.  My international mission agency believes that we should prioritize to help the house-churches on theological and practical grounds:

A.  Theological

Theologically, the ultimate head of the TSPM church is not Christ but the Communist religious policy and controlling agencies.  And measured against the standards of Christianity in the New Testament, the house-churches are obviously the main (if not the better and more biblical) manifestation of Christ’s church in China today.

House-church leaders constantly remind us that theologically, evangelicals should avoid supporting TSPM because it may become Satan’s tool (as it had before) in persecuting believers when religious policy changes.  Historically, the TSPM was developed by the Communist Party under the United Front policy and has been used by the party to persecute the house-churches when hard-line religious policies were enforced, and to monitor the house-churches within the “three designates” policy when the soft-line tolerant policies were implemented under Deng’s era.  House-church leaders have clear evidences that they are being “spied upon” by TSPM pastors and thus attribute many arrests of house-church leaders and closures of house-churches to TSPM reports to the Public Security Bureau (PSB, China’s police), even until today.

B.  Practical

Practically, the house-churches though not visible or outspoken are the dominant church in China, and are most worthy of full support, because theologically they honor the authority of the Bible and the headship of Christ, and historically they have refused control of the party and suffered the most for Christ under persecution.  They are zealous for the Lord and eager to evangelize locally and even cross-culturally.

The house-churches are the growing edge of the church in China.  TSPM churches maintain Christian activities within the confines of the church premises, while the house-churches are continuing to grow rapidly by actively reaching out and planting churches everywhere, even among urban intellectuals, rural farmers and tribal minorities.  Although a few TSPM churches are mission-minded, the overwhelming majority are ingrown and lack evangelistic vision and zeal.

Actually, the TSPM is complicated in her constituents of members and leaders.  Most of the TSPM members come from the house-churches.  Many of the present leadership were recruited from the house-churches who joined with a pastoral heart for the hungry souls in the church.  News from various sources reveals the politics among TSPM leaders.  In a pastoral team, one pastor may work for the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) and monitor house-church activities; another may have an evangelical heart and help nurture house-churches registered under TSPM; and a younger graduate from Nanjing Theological Seminary may refuse to obey his senior but obey the Bible instead.

In asking for outside help, on the one hand, most TSPM churches do not ask for ministry of the Word, but rather financial assistance in staff salaries or building construction.  If teaching or literature is offered, they are rejected by some, postponed by others, and received only by very few.  The rare few can be found in open regions with younger pastors and in places where the polarization between the TSPM and house-churches is not too serious.  (Of course, there are evangelical members and leaders in the TSPM churches who have genuine desire for teaching and training.  This requires care and discernment in the process of contact and cooperation).

On the other hand, house-church believers are hungry for the Word and request for ministry of the Word more than financial help.  In many provinces where revival occurred, they have developed a close network for fellowship and organized their own leadership training programs.  Some have even developed several levels of underground theological training.  But as they train and send out missionaries, they need a constant and increasing supply of Bibles, literature, teaching materials and training.  This demands outside help to be coordinated in an organized way which can provide training teams on various subjects combined with a constant supply of literature.  Training sessions in house-churches are usually attended by 50-150 people (usually “tried and tested” experienced ministers at that!) and last for 1-3 months.

My agency’s policy may even be better: we avoid bringing in translated Christian literature from the outside, but rather encourage and help finance the printing of the best used materials developed by the house church leaders themselves.

Therefore, in spite the difficulties and risks of contacting and supporting the house-churches, we believe that we must channel most, if not all, our support to our brethren in these churches.

Our major assumptions:

  1. God has been and is at work in China, and His Church has been growing rapidly without much outside help, except for radio broadcasting and Bibles smuggled in.
  2. The best people to evangelize China are the local believers themselves.  Thus the role of expatriates is of supportive servants and partners: (a) to follow the lead of God-appointed Chinese church leaders, while also (b) sharing our spiritual gifts and expertise humbly and generously, and (c) serving as bridges between China’s house-churches and churches abroad.
  3. Our goal is to help equip and empower the Chinese church (and not create dependency) for her to do her share in world evangelization, esp. in the various “Back to Jerusalem” mission movements.  Thus we must focus in training her leaders to become truly theologically mature in Christ and spiritually alive to send competent missionaries to the unreached in China, Asia and the world!

Comments (1)

Quality Missions for Effective Harvest

The vision and mission of the Filipino missions mobilization movement emphasizes not just the quantity of missionaries commissioned (most people are fascinated by our figure of 1,000,000 by 2020), but more especially the quality of these people deployed.  We carefully chose the phrases: cross-cultural disciple-makers.  It’s because we really want them to actually be located strategically among the unreached and unchurched people groups, and that they are effectively making and multiplying disciples among their target peoples.

Experienced missionaries, missionary trainers and missiologists have more or less derived at a common understanding that effective missions must result in indigenous (self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating and self-theologizing) “churches” that are harvest, holistic and healthy Christ-centered communities, through a mission paradigm consisting of “Church Planting Movements (CPM) or Disciple Multiplication Movements (DMM), Community Transformation and Contextualization.” For me, and as proven by my tentmaker missions approach for the past 15 years, this can be done most strategically and effectively through bi-vocational “missionaries.”

I believe our “Tentmakers Crash Course” and “A Higher Purpose” Course can give our missions candidates enough foundation to do DMM, which equips them to work with local “persons of peace” and use local resources for their personal (and their family’s and disciples’) support system.  I envision our trained tentmakers in OFW churches NOT to bring their non-Filipino converts to their Filipino/OFW church, but to disciple their non-Filipino converts to each (or “two by two,” or “from house to house”) start their own DMM, which are self-supporting and self-propagating, most probably more effectively than other models of missions. I’m glad this is going to be more mainstream from now on, because most international missions and even Korean missions are  trying to shift into this paradigm that has been advocated by some of us.

We are trying to challenge thousands of believers to sacrifice their time, money and even their lives to go among the unchurched and unevangelized.  So much prayers, energies, finances and lives will be expended.  Let us see to it that our missionaries are equipped and deployed to do the most strategic and most effective work to reap God’s abundant harvest out there, or even in our close neighborhoods.  I’ve seen and heard so many career and tentmaker missionaries struggle almost by trial-and-error in the mission-fields. Let’s do it better this time: quality missions for effective harvest, so that heaven will be truly filled rather than hell!

By God’s grace, may Filipino missions lead the way, as we are already doing through many of our PMA members!

Leave a Comment

Christ-Centered Communities: Goal of Missio Dei (God’s Mission)

Missiology for the Realization of Christ-Centered Communities

As those with the burden and passion to reach the world for Christ, we should be clear about the mission that God requires of us.  What is God’s vision and mission for His people in the world?  This essay seeks to delineate what are the components of the biblical concepts of “shalom” (peace) and “kingdom of God” in Christ-centered communities (CCC) and what mission strategy is needed and prescribed to realize these among the various peoples and cultures on earth.

Basic Theological Premises

1.  All things that God created (= nature) are Good – Gen. 1-2; Ps. 24; 104; 1 Tim. 4:4.

2.  By God’s common grace, all things that humans have made (= culture) are also good – Ps. 8.

Humans created in God’s image – Gen. 1:26-28.

Humans given creation/cultural mandate – Gen. 1:27-28; 2:15.

Human work and production is good – Eph.2:10; Col.3:23; 2 Th.3:6-13.

3.  Human culture is marred, because humans disobeyed the Creator (= sinned) – Gen. 3.   **** 4 Main Forms of Sin: Idolatry?Mammonism/Materialism (Col.3:5), Individualism/Selfishness, Immorality, Injustice.

4.  Humans and cultures have been redeemed in Christ, and thus may be sanctified by FAITH = prayer to God in Jesus’ name and obedience to His word – 1 Tim. 4:4-5, cf. Isa. 65:17-25.

5.  God’s main instrument is His people (the Church) – assured to be successful – Matt. 16:18-19; 24:14; Col. 1:15-29; Rev. 21:24-27, cf. Gen.12:1-3.

Biblical Vision: Kingdomization in Christ-Centered Communities (CCC)

God desires His people to bring all peoples to inherit eternal life and enjoy abundant life as they obey Him as their Creator and King/Ruler through their faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  The work to achieve this may be called “kingdomization” or “societal transformation,” by which the individuals, families, communities and institutions among the nations will be discipled to relate with each other and with other communities with biblical (= God’s kingdom) norms and values.  This results in Christ-centered communities (CCC) that are growing in righteousness and justice marked by self-giving love (= agape).  Righteousness refers to right/moral relationships (usually using one word: “love”) between persons which promote goodness and discourage evil.   And justice (which is “love in the public sphere”) denotes moral relationships where every person and community is empowered (given the authority, democratic space and skills) to participate actively in determining their destiny for the common good to the glory of God.

These Christ-centered individuals and communities will be living in harmony and cooperation, and empowered by their leaders who serve as facilitators in the holistic development of their personal and communal lives, so they can share their blessings as partners with other communities in establishing peace (shalom) among all nations in the world.  Isaiah 65:17-25 (popularly called the “Isa. 65 vision”) envisions a “new heavens and new earth” on earth where death, marriage and child-bearing still prevail.  The first three verses describe “New Jerusalem” as a “city of joy” where life is celebrated and God is delighted.  Verse 20 sees people living long lives, presumably with healthy lifestyles and good governance (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2), implying that the leaders are also godly and righteous.  Verses 21-22 shows a society where social justice prevails, where each one’s labor is rewarded accordingly, following the prophetic ideal of “each man sitting under his own vine and fig tree” with no fears (Mic. 4:4) and the Mosaic laws of gleaning (so none will be poor, Deut. 15:1-11) and Jubilee (Lev. 25).  The next verse depicts prosperity passed on from one generation to the next, and the last verse finally describes harmony among animals, and humans with the whole creation.  And verse 24 hints at a mature form of faith in the generous God whose blessings do not need to be earned or pleaded for, religiously or otherwise.

This means that as individuals with or without religious affiliation, people will mature spiritually to trust solely in God and Him alone.  Their faith will start by adapting to the majority (ir)religion in their community, and ultimately develop into simple religiosity, each living for God’s glory in obedience to His will through a “love God first and love everyone” lifestyle.  They will be active in community services, with less and less need for religious services (Isa. 58:1-12; Mic. 6:6-8; Amos 5:21-24; Js. 2:14-26; 1 Jn. 3:16-18, etc.).  With confidence of and gratitude for having everything good (for God is always near and loves them forever), they will walk with Him humbly with a Christ-like disciple-making lifestyle of “love and good works” (Eph. 2:10; 4:24; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:31; Col.1:28-29; 2 Tim. 3:16-17) – as salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13-16; Phil. 2:14-16), without having to act religious or do much religious rituals (John 4:21-24; Heb. 10:24-25; Lk. 10:25-37; Matt. 6:1-18; 25:31–46).

Biblical Mission: Disciple Multiplication Movements (DMM)

To achieve this vision, God designed a simple plan for world transformation in such CCC through “disciple multiplication movements” (DMM) by which all peoples and nations will be made into followers of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  By His grace, the church (all Jesus-followers) should seek to work together to realize His reign on earth until He returns to set up His eternal kingdom (Rev. 12:10-11; 15:3-4; 21:1-5, 24-27).

All Christ-followers should aim to evangelize and disciple all peoples in all societies to follow his will, as people of His shalom or kingdom of light, through holistic/transformational ministries, which include both evangelism and socio-political action, with signs and wonders (Mt. 28:18-20; Lk. 4:18-19; Rom. 15:18-19; 1 Pet. 2:9-10) that will result in family and community conversions to Christ.  Such was the missionary method of Jesus Christ and the apostles, often called “disciple-making,” as they modeled servant leadership, which persuades and equips people to voluntarily live according to God’s will (Mk. 10:42-45; 1 Pet. 5:1-3).

Jesus just set out to set up CCC by spreading DMM through his original twelve disciples.  He informally instructed and sent them out “with authority”(= empowered) to find a “person of peace” (Lk. 10:6, cf. vv.1-21), among the “lost sheep of Israel” (Mt 10:5-6 = Jews in Galilee).  Besides using his own household (= oikos) in Nazareth, he related to Peter’s mother-in-law in Capernaum, Lazarus, Martha and Mary in Bethany, Zaccheus in Jericho, Mary the mother of John Mark in Jerusalem, etc.  In Jerusalem, He even had disciples in Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and perhaps through them, Gamaliel, who were entrenched in the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish socio-political structure of his time!).

In order to disciple all Samaria, he just evangelized an immoral woman and upon her conversion, empowered her to gossip about him to the city elders (Jn. 4).  After 2 days of discipling these leaders, he left them, never to return, nor left any Jewish disciple to pastor these new converts. The Sycharian believers have been discipled and empowered to do DMM to set up contextualized CCC among their fellow Samaritans in other villages!

In order to make disciples among Gentiles, Jesus’ “man of peace” in Decapolis (a metropolis of 10 cities) was a teenage demoniac (Mark 5)!  After casting out the demons into the pigs (note that the townfolks begged Jesus to depart from them immediately, because their hog industry was in jeopardy!), the teenager ask to be His “Apostle No. 13.”  Jesus told him “No,” so he can return to his townmates and gossip about what happened to him (no “evangelism training class,” right?).  When Jesus returned to Decapolis (Mk. 7:31-8:13), he just taught the 4,000 men (= heads of households), and similarly left them never to return, nor left any Jewish disciple to pastor these new converts! This was how Jesus planned his world kingdomization movement — through DMM by insiders!

This was also how the apostles replicated CCC through DMM, albeit by trial-and-error, and moved across the Roman Empire and beyond by the power (and corrective guidance!) of the Holy Spirit.  The DMM among the Jews started in Jerusalem in the form of “disciple-making” “from house to house (= oikos)” without having to separate from Early Judaism’s formal structure of synagogue and Temple and their religious practices (Acts 2:41-47; 4:32-37).  It spread “naturally” southwards to Africa through an Ethiopian convert who was a proselyte of Judaism (Acts 8), and as some traditions narrate, eastward as far as the Indian Empire by Thomas, northward as far as Armenia and perhaps Moscow by Andrew, and westward as far as Algeria by Matthew and Bartholomew, who may have all just followed the trade routes of the Jewish diaspora.  As for Paul, within seven years of three short missionary journeys, he could testify that he had no more regions to disciple “from Jerusalem to Illyricum” (Rom. 15:18-20), and while in Ephesus for two years, “the word of God spread to the whole Asia (Minor = today’s Turkey), both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:1-10).

Within a few years of such DMM, they had literally turned the Roman Empire upside down (Ac. 17:6 KJV).  They did not create a clergy class, nor construct (or even rent) a religious building nor hold regular religious services, except to break bread weekly in their homes.  It was the teaching and practice of the apostle Paul (perhaps the best model of a cross-cultural missionary) not to plant a growing “local church,” but an indigenous DMM in house churches that are formed by converts who did not have to be dislocated from their families and communities (1 Cor. 7:17-24).  With consistent contextualization (“becoming all things to all men,” 1 Cor. 9:19-23), he just needed to disciple a few “persons of peace” from city to city (= polis).

This New Testament practice of simply setting up CCC is not different from that of Old Testament (OT) Israel, which shows God’s design and “simple faith” structure for a reached, discipled or transformed people:

(1) There were no local shrines or temples in each village or town.

(2) There were no weekly Sabbath worship services.  Synagogues as multi-purpose community centers came later in 200 B.C. for teaching Diaspora Jews (Lim 1987a).

(3)  There were no weekly nor monthly collection of tithes and offerings.  1 Cor. 16:1-4 shows weekly collection in the early church were mainly for immediate local needs, esp. of widows and orphans (cf. Ac. 6:1; Js. 1:27).

(4)  There were no “full-time” clergy. The levitical priests were provided not just with cities, but also with pasturelands (Josh. 21).  They were not exempt from being stewards of God’s resources, thus they were shepherds and cowboys to provide livestock products for their neighbors and nation (cf. 2 Thess. 3:6-13).  This was how the priests and Levites learned to be expert butchers for animal sacrifices in the Temple.

(5)  The OT Jews were required to celebrate communally as a people in the national Temple (note: God’s original design was a portable and transportable Tabernacle) only three times a year: Passover (= Holy Week), Pentecost (= “church anniversary” of each Christ-centered community) and Tabernacles (= Christmas or Harvest festival) (Dt. 16:16, para.).

(6)  The actual teaching and obedience of the “way of God’s righteousness” was mainly in the homes (Dt. 6:1-11)!

Biblical Christianity is therefore structured as CCC composed of “churches” that meet in “homes” (oikos).  It is not “churchless Christianity” nor “religionless Christianity, but “simple Christianity.” Its mission is to reproduce simple groups of Christ-worshippers without elaborate religiosity.  This seeks to fulfill God’s covenants with Abraham that through him every family on earth will be blessed (Gen. 12:3, cf. Gal. 3:14, 29), and with Israel that she will be a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6, cf. 1 Pet. 2:9-10) (Cf. Mission Frontiers, 34.2 (March-April 2012) issue on the family as God’s prime mission strategy for world evangelization).

Conclusion: Contextualizing CCC through DMM

It seems clear that the Bible prescribes that CCC can be realized and contextualized through DMM.  Every new convert to Christ can be discipled to evangelize and disciple the nations!  The Great Commission is given to all believers.  This is the priesthood of every believer in real action (1 Pet. 2:9-10; cf. Exod. 19:5-6).  Each believer can and should be discipled to become a disciple-maker and catalyze DMM wherever s/he lives and works.  It is possible to plant and program the right DNA into new converts, so that they will grow and develop into reproducing Christians and transformational agents of God’s kingdom to form CCC for the rest of their life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To disciple means to equip Christ-believers with just three relational skills: (a) hearing God through prayerful meditation (or “Quiet Time” = lectio divina) to turn His word (logos) into a word (rhema) to be obeyed; (b) making disciples through leading a “house church” with fellow believers in Bible reflection and sharing, whereby each one learns how to do personal devotions, too; and (c) doing friendship evangelism to share what they learn of God and His will with their networks of non-believing relatives and friends.

These reproducing believers can be produced through mentoring (or better, “discipling”) by disciple-makers (= servant-leaders) who seek to equip all believers (cf. Eph. 4:11-16) right in their house church meetings, usually in their residences and workplaces, for a season.  This DMM aims to produce CCC, especially if combined with Community Development and C-5 (high contextualization) strategies, which is labeled “insider movements” (IM) nowadays.  Thus we can find like-minded partners in the various lay-led movements, like campus evangelism (esp. Navigators), marketplace ministry, business-as-mission and tentmaker movements globally, as well as mission agencies (mainly Western, mostly in the International Orality Network) that do “church planting movements” (CPM) that avoid conventional “church planting” and “church growth.”

As those with the burden and passion to reach all peoples with the Gospel , let our mission strategy be to build CCC with simple “biblical Christianity” — contextualized, holistic and transformational “indigenous movements” that are truly replicable: self-governing (with their own leaders), self-supporting (with their own resources), self-propagating (with their own action programs) and self-theologizing (with their own doctrines and ethics).  We will be developing “churches” that will be copied by future generations of Christ-followers, so we should avoid transplanting denominational churches (= complex Christianity) which are often non-contextual (= foreign-looking), hence have almost always produced marginalized Christians who are separated from their communities — despised and rejected by their family and friends, not because of the Gospel but because of their extra-biblical forms/traditions, perhaps often unknowingly, resulting from “extraction evangelism.”

So, let us not encourage our new converts or disciples to attend an international fellowship or denominational church, if there is any, perhaps except in special occasions.  We should just focus on DMM — making disciples and multiplying “simple churches,” for where two or three believers are gathered prayerfully, there is the church (Matt. 18:19-20)!   We should encourage our disciples to just “gossip Jesus” and form small “disciple-making groups” (DMG) among their friends and kin in their neighborhoods and work-places – and turn each of them into a CCC.  They are to just do this spiritual “network marketing” of the Gospel from city to city – till the whole world knows and obeys Jesus!

The best (most biblical and most strategic/effective) ministry “incarnates faith” in existing socio-religio-cultural structures and avoids creating new ones, through contextualized DMM (also called “Insider/indigenous Movements”), that multiply disciples “from house to house” without creating another organized religious system parallel or counter to that of the Muslim, Buddhist or any religion or ideology in their contexts.  Mature DMM also intentionally encourage their “persons of peace” to share their new-found faith in Christ with community and religious leaders as soon as possible, so as to expedite community evangelization, conversion and transformation into CCC.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, let’s catalyze DMM in Asia and beyond, for we believe that the harvest is indeed plentiful (Matt. 9:37-38) and our King Jesus is indeed building His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (16:18-19)!  Let’s finish the Great Commission together in our generation!  Let’s be blessed in our CCC to go and bless the nations through DMM – in each of their unique cultures!

                                                            Bibliography

Allen, Roland.  1962. Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

_______. 1962a. The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Arterburn, Stephen, and Jack Felton. 2006. More Jesus, Less Religion.  Colorado Springs: Waterbrook.

Atkerson, Steve (ed.). 2005. Ekklesia: To The Roots of Biblical House-Church Life.  Atlanta, GA: NTRF.

Banks, Robert and Julia.  1986. The Church Comes Home. Sutherland: Albatross.

Banks, Robert.  1985.  Going to Church in the First Century.  Sydney: Hexagon.

________.  1979.  Paul’s Idea of Community. Sydney: Anzea.

Barrett, Lois.  1986.  Building the House Church. Scottdale, PA: Herald.

Boff, Leonardo.  1986. Ecclesiogenesis.  London: Collins; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Claro, Robert. 2003. A Higher Purpose for Your Overseas Job. Makati City: Church Strengthening Ministries.

Coleman, Robert.  1964. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Old Tappan, NJ: Revell.

Fitts, Robert.  2001. The Church in the Home: A Return to Simplicity. Salem, OR: Preparing the Way Publishers.

Garrison, David.  2004. Church Planting Movements. Midlothian, VA: WIGTake Resources.

Gehring, Roger W. 2004. House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household  Structures in Early Christianity.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Higgins, Kevin.  2004.  “The Key to Insider Movements: The ‘Devoted’s’ of Acts,” International Journal of Frontier Missiology 21.4 (Winter): 156-160.

Hoefer, Herbert.  2001.  Churchless Christianity.  Pasadena: Wm. Carey Library.

Kraft, Charles.  1979.  Christianity in Cultures.  Maryknoll: Orbis.

Lim, David. 1987. The Servant Nature of the Church in the Pauline Corpus. Ph.D. Diss., Fuller Theological Seminary.  Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.

______.  1987a.  “The Origin, Nature and Organization of the Synagogue,” Studia Biblica et Theologia  15.1 (April 1987): 23-51.

______.  1987b.  “The Development of the Monepiscopate in the Early Church,” Studia Biblica et Theologia 15.2 (October 1987): 163-195.

______.  1989.  “The City in the Bible,” Urban Ministry in Asia, ed. Bong Rin Ro (Taichung: Asia Theological Association, 1989): 20 -41. Also in Evangelical Review of Theology 12.2 (April, 1988): 138-156.

______.  1990.  “The Doctrine of Creation and Some Implications for Modern Economics,” Transformation 7.2 (April-June 1990), 28-32; and 7/3 (July-September 1990): 21-23.

______.  1992.  Transforming Communities: Biblical Concepts on Poverty and Social Justice. Manila: OMF Literature. (out of print).

______.  1994.  “The Uniqueness of Christ for Justice and Peace,” The Uniqueness of Christ.  Carlisle: Paternoster & Grand Rapids: Baker. Pp.214-230.

______. 2003. “Towards a Radical Contextualization Paradigm in Evangelizing Buddhists,” Sharing Jesus in the Buddhist World, ed. David Lim & Steve Spaulding.  Pasadena: William Carey Library.  Pp. 71-94.

______.  2006.  “How God’s Universal Purpose in Redemption will be Fulfilled? Exposition of Isaiah 58:1-14,” in Asia Lausanne Committee of World Evangelization, A New Heart for the Evangelization of Asia.  Bangalore: Theological Book Trust.

______.  2008.  “Biblical Worship Rediscovered: A Theology for Communicating Basic Christianity.” Communicating Christ Through Story and Song: Orality in Buddhist Contexts, ed. Paul H. De Neui.  Pasadena: William Carey Library.  Pp. 27-59.

______.  2011.  “Towards Closure: Imperial or Incarnational Missions?” Asian Missions Advance, 33 (October 2011): 20-22.

Martin, Ralph.  1979.  The Family and the Fellowship. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

_______.   1964.  Worship in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

_______.   1982.  The Worship of God.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Neighbor, Ralph, Jr.  1990. Where Do We Go from Here? Houston: Touch Publications.

Petersen, Jim.  1992.  Church Without Walls. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Richard, Herbert.  1999.  Following Jesus in the Hindu Context.  Pasadena: Wm. Carey Library.

Schweizer, Edward.  1961.  Church Order in the New Testament. London: SCM Press.

Simson, Wolfgang.  2001. Houses That Change the World.  Carlisle: Paternoster.

Snyder, Howard.  1975. The Problem of Wineskins. Downers Grove: IVP.

______.  1977.  The Community of the King.  Downers Grove: IVP.

Stevens, Paul.  1985. Liberating the Laity. Downers Grove: IVP.

Volf, Miroslav.  1998.  In Our Image: The Church in the Image of the Trinity.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Walsh, Brian J., and J. Richard Middleton.  1983.  The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian Worldview.  Downers Grove: IVP.

Zdero, Rad.  2004. The Global House Church Movement.  Pasadena: William Carey Library.

Leave a Comment

Major works: 2000-2012

2000
“Let’s Democratize Missions.” Monograph. Quezon City: China Ministries International-Philippines.
“Transforming Churches: From Christendom to Servant Church.” Monograph. Q.C.: C.M.I.-Phil.
“Riding the Next Wave of the Spirit.” Monograph. Q.C.: C.M.I.-Phil.
“A Critique of Modernity in Protestant Missions in the Philippines,” Journal of Asian Mission 2.2 (September 2000): 149-177.

2001
“Why Local Churches Hinder Real Church Growth.” Monograph. Q.C.: C.M.I.-Phil.

2002
“Consolidating Democracy: Role of Evangelicals in Deepening Democracy in the Philippines from 1986-1998.” Paper presented at Conference on Evangelicals and Democracy, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
“Consolidating ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together’.” Monograph. Q.C.: C.M.I.-Phil.

2003
“Towards a Radical Contextualization Paradigm in Evangelizing Buddhists” in Sharing Jesus in the Buddhist World, eds. David Lim & Steve Spaulding. Pasadena: William Carey Library.  Pp. 71-94.
“The Challenges of Empowering Philippine Churches for Effective Missions to China (and Beyond)” in Asian Church and God’s Mission, ed. Wonsuk & Julie Ma. Mandaluyong City: OMF Lit. Pp. 195-210.

2004
“A Missiological Evaluation of David Yonggi Cho’s Church Growth,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 7.1 (January 2004): 125-147. Also in David Yonggi Cho: A Close Look At His Theology and Ministry, ed. Wonsuk Ma, et al. Baguio City: APTS Press, 2004. Pp. 181-207.  http://www.apts.edu/aeimages/File/AJPS_PDF/04-1-DavidLim.pdf.
“Mobilizing the Local Church in Evangelism and Mission,” Journal of Asian Mission 6.1 (March 2004): 43-57.
“Cho Yonggi’s Church Leadership and Church Growth,” Great Commission Research Journal 15 (Spring 2004).
“Church @the Frontiers: Transformation through Church Planting Movement and Community Development.” Paper presented at Sealink Conference, Caliraya, Laguna (June 2004).  Monograph. Quezon City: CMI-Phil.

2005
Sharing Jesus Holistically With the Buddhist World, ed. with Steve Spaulding. Pasadena: Wm. Carey Library, 2005.
Sharing Jesus Effectively in the Buddhist World, ed. with Steve Spaulding & Paul De Neui. Pasadena: Wm. Carey Library.
“Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Philippines: the ASDECS Vision and Experience.” Paper presented at the IAPCHE Conference, Mumbai, India (January 2005).
“Vignettes of Filipino Tentmakers,” Connections 4.2 (Summer 2005): 36-37.
“Filipino Missionaries in the Buddhist World,” PMA Missions Post (2nd Quarter 2005): 1-3.
Book Reviews: Paul Hattaway et al’s Back to Jerusalem, and Rad Zdero’s The Global House Church Movement. Journal of Asian Mission 7.2 (September 2005): 294-297.

2006
“Are Local Churches Hindering Real Church Growth?” Ministry Digest 16.1 (January-February 2006): 13, 34.
“How God’s Universal Purpose in Redemption will be Fulfilled? Exposition of Isaiah 58:1-14.” Exposition presented at the Asia Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, Caliraya, Laguna, Philippines (May 2006). Also in Asia Lausanne Committee of World Evangelization, A New Heart for the Evangelization of Asia. Bangalore: Theological Book Trust.
“How Then Shall We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Public Worship.” Paper presented at the International Church Growth Conference, Sydney, Australia (June 30, 2006): 79-102.
“Why Filipino Evangelicals must Prioritize Mission Mobilization.” Monograph. Quezon City: CMI-Phil.
“Tentmakers Training Module (TTM): Leadership Development for Missions.” Paper presented at the Xealot Leadership Development Conference, Phuket, Thailand (November 2006).
“How to Build a Graft-free Society? Expository Outline of Luke 3:7-14.” Article submitted to Christian Convergence for Good Governance (CCGG), Manila, Philippines (published 2007).

2007
“Transformational Missionary Training for Buddhist Contexts,” in Communicating Christ in the Buddhist World, ed. Paul de Neui & David Lim. Pasadena: William Carey Library; pp. 233-254.
“House Church Movement – Perhaps the Last Wave of the Spirit.” Monograph, Quezon City: CMI-Phil.
“The Whole Filipino Church Sharing the Whole Gospel with the Whole World.” Keynote Address presented at the Lausanne Philippine Congress 2007, Manila, October 25, 2007.
“Higher Education in China.” Paper presented at the International Council for Higher Education (ICHE) Conference, Bangalore, India (November 2007).
“Leading the Shift Towards Tentmaker Missions: A History and Sociology of Filipino Evangelical Missions.” Unpublished article.

2008
“Biblical Worship Rediscovered: A Theology for Communicating Basic Christianity.” In Communicating Christ Through Story and Song: Orality in Buddhist Contexts, ed. Paul H. De Neui. Pasadena: William Carey Library. Pp. 27-59.
“Norway: the Best Model of a Transformed Nation Today.” Monograph. Quezon City: Lausanne Philippines Partnership. In http://angbagongpinoy.org/Norway.
“Catalyzing ‘Insider Movements’ Among the Unreached.” Journal of Asian Mission 10.1-2 (March-September 2008): 125-145.

2009
“Consolidating Democracy: Role of Evangelicals in Deepening Democracy in the Philippines from 1986-1998.” In Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Asia, ed. David H. Lumsdaine.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 235-284.
“Filipino Urban Missions in the Buddhist World.” In Communicating Christ in Asian Cities: Urban Issues in Buddhist Contexts, ed. Paul De Neui. Pasadena, CA: Wm Carey Library. Pp. 201-223.
“Christian Witness in the Global Marketplace: Mobilizing and Training Filipino Workers as Tentmakers.” Paper presented at the Lausanne Consultation on Diaspora Missions, Pasig City, Philippines, 4-9 May, 2009.
“Church @the Frontiers: Transformation through Church Planting Movement, Community Development and Tentmakers.” The Starfish Files, No. 5, Summer 2009: 3-6.
“Church Planting Movements: Perhaps the Only Way to Disciple All Nations.” Paper presented at the Korean Missionary Conference, Pasig City, August 12, 2009.
“Vision and Mission of the Global House Church Movement.” Paper presented at the Global House Church Movement Summit, New Delhi, India, November 11, 2009. Also in: http://www.222foundation.org.

2010
“Catalyzing ‘Insider Movements’ in Buddhist Contexts.” In Paul de Neui (ed.). Family and Faith in Asia: The Missional Impact of Extended Networks. Pasadena: Wm. Carey Library. Pp. 31-46.  Reprint in AFMI/ASFM Bulletin, No. 3 (April-June 2010): 8-15.
“Ancestor Veneration and Family Conversion Revisited.” In Paul de Neui (ed.). Family and Faith in Asia: The Missional Impact of Extended Networks. Pasadena: Wm. Carey Library. Pp. 183-215.
“Transformational Education: Academic Mission to Marginalized Peoples.” In J. Dinakarlal (ed.). Christian Higher Education & Globalization in Asia/Oceania: Realities & Challenges. Sioux City, Iowa: IAPCHE.
“Worldview Ecumenism for Transformational Education.” Paper presented at IAPCHE Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A., June 15-17, 2010. Published in Contact (IAPCHE newsletter), Academic Insert (December 2010): 1-12. Also in: http://www.iapche.org/insert222.pdf.
“A Biblical Theology of Public Worship: Implications for Effective Church Multiplication Today.” Journal of Asian Mission 12.2 (September 2010): 213-244.
“South Korea: Perhaps the Next Transformed Nation in the World.” Monograph. Quezon City: ASDECS.
“The Challenge of the Evangelization of Asia.” AFMI/ASFM Bulletin, No. 3 (April-June 2010): 3.
“Disciple-making Made Simple – Luke 10:1-9.” Monograph. Quezon City: Phil. House Church Movement.
“Doctrinal Development in House Church Networks.” Monograph. Quezon City: Phil. House Church Movement.
“Praying that Result in Transformation and Mission.” Monograph. Quezon City: Phil. House Church Movement.
“Missional Church in a Globalization Era.” Paper presented at 10th Asia Missions Association (AMA) Triennial Conference, Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4-7, 2010.

2011
“Continuities with Suffering as a Bridge to Evangelizing Buddhists.” In Paul de Neui (ed.). Suffering: Christian Reflections on Buddhist Dukkha. Pasadena: William Carey Library. Pp. 77-90.
“Mission as Transformation: Holistic, Ecumenical and Contextual.” In Shirley Roels (ed.). Reformed Mission in an Age of World Christianity: Ideas for the 21st Century. Grand Rapids: Calvin Press.  Pp. 57-72. Also in: http://www.calvin.edu/admin/cccs/rcc/chapters/Lim.pdf.
“Filipino Insider Missions in the Buddhist World.” AFMI-ASFM Bulletin 6 (January-March 2011): 28-36.
“Towards Closure: Imperial or Incarnational Missions?” Monograph. Quezon City: Phil. House Church Movement; and article in Asian Missions Advance, 33 (October 2011): 20-22.
“Transformational Missional Training for the Evangelization of Asia.” Paper presented at the 7th Asia Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization,” Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 1-4, 2011.
“Journeying Together in Muslim Mission in Philippine Churches.” Paper presented at the 30th Anniversary Conference of the Presbyterian Church of Korea Mission in the Philippines, Pasig City, June 7, 2011.

2012

“Effective Partnerships for Church-Multiplication and Insider Movements.” In Paul de Neui (ed.). Complexities of Money and Missions in Asia. Pasadena: William Carey Library. Pp. 121-90.
“The Past, Present and Future of Korean Missions in the Philippines.” Paper presented at Forum on 100th Anniversary of Korean Missions, Pasig City, February 7, 2012.
“Every Evangelical Filipino, a Great Commission Christian.” Editorial, PMA Missions Post, January-March 2012: 1-2.
“M4J: The Whole Philippine Church as Light in the World.” March for Jesus Newsletter 1.1 (April 2012): 1-2.
“Let’s Prioritize Missions Mobilization.” Editorial, PMA Missions Post, April-June 2012: 1, 3 & 6.
“Effective Missions through Simply Disciple-making.” Editorial, PMA Missions Post, July-September 2012: 1, 3 & 4.
“Effective Tentmaking Made Simple,” and “Powerful Puff Girls.” In Ana M. Gamez. Blessing OFWs to Bless the Nations. Makati: Church Strengthening Ministry. Pp. 108-113.
“Effective Disciple-making Made Simple.” In Dave English et al. Tentmaking Briefs, Vol. I (September 2012): 61-63. Also in http://www.globalopps.org/ebooks/TMBVolumeI.pdf.
“House Church Movements in Asia.” AFMI-ASFM Bulletin 10 (July-December 2012): 18-23.
“Becoming Effective Disciple-makers in the e-World.” Editorial, PMA Missions Post, October-December 2012: 1.

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,061 other followers