Saturday, January 14, 2012

HT Tall Skiinny Kiwi on reasons to not plant a church

2. The measurement criteria of the church planting project, focusing on numbers of attenders and momentum of new church launch, is too narrow, too shallow, unholistic and ignores more vital measurable signs of a transformed society in its various spheres (economic, environmental, social, impact outside the church environment, etc).

Some folks I know locally have discussed a creepy implication of exactly reason 2 with respect to African missions and evangelism.  How, exactly, is it that the boom in missionary outreach to Africa has yielded such huge numbers of conversions and yet, a couple of generations later the places that have the highest ratio of confessing Christians have the highest rates of HIV infection and the highest number of orphaned children?  If the Christianity Westerners exported to Africa has been nothing more than a franchise model for correct doctrinal confession and a private pietism informed by American style civic religion then our missions work to Africa and charitable work may have left them far worse off in real economic terms than if we'd left them to heathens. 

Then again, perhaps there's a kind of Christian faith and practice that leaves a lasting impact.  I consider now something Fearsome Tycoon remarked over at the BHT, that if you look at the non-Anglo Protestant missionary activities those groups don't seem to have cast off a Christian confession whereas if you look at the groups that were the targets of Anglo Christian missionary work how many of those groups will identify as Christian?  Stuff to mull over.  Certainly it may warrant consideration that a lot of groups that think they may be "contextualizing" the Gospel (TM?) may have contextualized a white Anglo-culture and a franchise model that does not necessarily lead to long-term changes. 

But I'm rambling about things that I admit I'm not necessarily informed about.  It's my friends from Africa who have begun to discuss how a lot of how Western missions and evangelism got practiced in Africa has not led to enough lasting change.  Does it mean the African Christians aren't "real" Christians or could it mean that the kind of Gospel Westerners brought to them was such a truncated Gospel it did not lead to any transformation in ethics or culture?  I'm not sure but since I'm on another rambling spree I'm throwing this out for consideration. 

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