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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Nurturing Growth

By L. John Bueno
March 7, 2010

After 51 years of ministry, the more I live, the more I appreciate indigenous principles. We have seen so many fads and trends of people who have decided they’re going to reach the world in a different way. They’re going to cut corners; they’re going to do it by mass evangelism or by radio or TV — which are all good in themselves. But they do not emphasize the essential New Testament pattern.

In reading the Book of Acts, you will see that the mission of the apostle Paul involved starting, nurturing and blessing the local church. By planting churches that grow and survive on their own, we follow Paul’s example in establishing healthy churches. I sincerely believe that no matter how a local church looks, it boils down to the leadership that God provides to direct His vision.

In the life of Paul, we see that he discipled and nurtured others. We also see this in modern times. When a man or woman of God catches the vision and is willing to put their heart and soul in the establishing of a local church, you will find success. We have examples today that illustrate exactly this principle. Regardless of how hard the area, how difficult the circumstances, or what the culture is like, establishing the church will ultimately be successful because that man or woman of God is essential for the fulfillment of His purpose.

One of the missing ingredients in many parachurch efforts, particularly overseas, is the establishing of local churches. Without importance and value placed on assembling believers consistently for worship, discipleship and evangelism, growth is rarely seen.

For this reason, we emphasize and focus on the training of national leaders. We have more Bible schools and ministerial training centers than any other fellowship in the world today. I believe it’s true to the heart of our pioneers who, from the very beginning, felt that God wanted them to equip national leaders to lead His church. Our main emphasis in missions has been the establishment of local assemblies.

One of the exciting things happening in our world today is that God is using  missionaries, in many cases, to lead local assemblies. In God’s wisdom, He has allowed the partnership of missionary and national endeavors in many of our great churches around the world today. From my own experience, working alongside the national pastor  accomplishes two things: It continues with the vision and overall purpose of evangelism and continues to disciple believers. These two things give the sustainability necessary where it was not essential for us to be there. If, for whatever reasons, we had to discontinue our part in it, the national pastor could continue on with that ministry.

A key principle to many of the great missionary-pastored churches today is that there is always a national pastor alongside who is not only bringing in the necessary cultural aspects of that particular country or people group, but also represents the continuity and the longevity of what we’re doing. We don’t do anything on a temporary basis because there always has to be an objective that will be long-lasting. There are many examples of this.

The more I read Scriptures, the more I realize that the way Christ chose to propagate the message of the gospel is through the local church. A church may look different in each part of the world, but the basic fact remains that the assembling of believers — for their own edification and for the evangelization of the world — is essential.

L. JOHN BUENO is executive director for AG World Missions.

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