There are several different types of Christian missions. Humanitarian missions focus on either short-term or long-term care through humanitarian means. Social missions focus on serving through orphanages and adoption agencies. Youth missions focus on reaching young people in schools and English camps with the gospel. As I wrote earlier, there are many forms of missions.
In Calvary Chapel our primary focus in missions is church planting. We go out to the world and seek to establish a new Christian fellowship on the principles of God’s Word. We usually move into a city where there is either no evangelical church or a great need for another one and church planting begins on the streets.
We spend our days and nights praying and preaching the gospel with the hope that God is going to save people and build His kingdom. He never disappoints though it may not be an avalanche of new believers! Sometime we labor for years with very little fruit to show for it. In these situations it’s hard not to wonder about your own calling. “Am I really called to start a church?” I know a slew of godly men who have asked themselves that question more than once!
It has always been a comfort to missionaries to think of the great missionary William Carey who spent 7 years in India before one person came to Christ! Many a missionary has thought, “If it took him that long, then maybe I’m not doing so bad.”
Missionaries go out to the world not because of what is happening, but because of what they believe is going to happen. By God’s grace, there are those who respond to the gospel and a little fellowship is formed. Usually this little group starts to meet in someone’s apartment- it’s free! We have been kicked out of a couple of apartments for having too many people come over. Now that’s a good problem.
Church planting is relationship building. The Bible calls it first and foremost to discipleship. It is our ministry to continue to preach the gospel and now with these new believers, to help them to grow in their faith. We have always believed in getting Christians involved in reaching their community from day one. We take them out to share where we go whether it’s on the streets, in the orphanages, elderly homes or wherever God opens doors. In the early years we try to walk through every open door possible and not limit church planting to sitting in a cold apartment with 3 people on Sunday morning.
Discipleship happens through the teaching of God’s Word in a relational way. Because it’s a small group there’s no need to emphasize formality. We are not there to play church but to plant one. Titles are irrelevant, roles are unclear, and services are usually messy. We don’t need neat and tidy; we need genuine. We need the presence of God.
Church planting overseas is not that different from the United States. We are all in need of the same things: grace from God, conviction in our calling, vision, character and a passion to see people know Jesus.