Indigenous Principles (WIM Core Values, 2 of 5)

Who we are springs from our core values.

WIM’s core values are the qualities that we as an organization deem most important. They are our highest principles and most deeply held beliefs. Like DNA, they define who we are and who we will become. Our core values are foundational to all that WIM represents. Other organizations may have the same or similar vision, but their core values are almost always different since they reflect the fundamental beliefs of that organization.

The five values that we believe are most important to WIM are Committed Relationships, Indigenous Principles, Discipleship, Kingdom Perspective, and Servant Leadership. These are the values to which we are committed, and our desire is that they will govern our actions and behavior. May God give us the grace to apply them to our lives and ministries.

By Dale Pugh

One of the distinctive characteristics of World Indigenous Missions is its focus on making churches “indigenous.”  This focus is based on the biblical mandate in 2 Timothy 2:2 which says, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  This verse represents a fourfold multiplication:  God to Paul; Paul to Timothy and the witnesses; the witnesses to faithful men; teachers of others.  From there the multiplication is infinite and can lead to successful indigenous churches and ministries.

The foundation of the multiplication process has to begin with relationships!  It is critical to build relationships with people who will then pass on to others what they have learned.  In his book The Bridges of God, Donald McGavran teaches the importance of building relationships with people in one location.  Genuinely investing time and energy into those relationships leads to opportunities to witness and teach.  Then those relationships will lead to new friendships in other towns and villages.  This occurred in our ministry in Veracruz.  What started out as one tent meeting ultimately became three churches.  People who attended the original tent meeting invited us to their villages, and eventually this resulted in churches being planted.

Getting Started

When the doors are open for churches to be planted, the following three criteria are critical in their success as indigenous ministries:  1) they must be self-supporting; 2) they must be self-governing under the lordship of Christ; 3) they must be self-propagating.  Understanding these criteria is vital to beginning any new ministry or outreach in your field of service.

Making an indigenous ministry self-supporting right from the start is great because it does not require any funds up front in order to get going.  The biblical pattern of starting churches was the Word of God and power as seen in the apostolic work in Jerusalem, Paul in Ephesus, Philippi and Corinth, and Philip in Samaria.  Having the necessary funds before beginning the work was not an issue.  In the book entitled The Indigenous Church by Melvin Hodges, he states, “If you have to choose between too much money and too little money when starting a church, choose too little.  Money can and does get in the way.”  Paul Koehler has stated, “We determined that we would make NO financial inducements for anyone to follow or serve the Lord.”

No Going Back

It would be easy to follow the philosophy of starting the ministry with American money and later make it an entirely self-supporting, indigenous ministry.  However, that allows for too many opportunities to make excuses for an indefinite amount of time about why it is too hard for the local ministry to become self-supporting.  Allowing that mindset at the beginning is a dangerous way to start.  When looking at how people within a society live, it is clear that many are doing well and have plenty of financial resources.  The object is to win souls and bring them AND their resources into God’s kingdom.

Once the discipleship process has begun, it is essential to encourage individuals who are part of the ministry to formulate a local ministry team.  The worship leaders, deacons, elders, children’s church and nursery workers, and the treasurer must all be raised up from within the local church.  They must be put into positions of responsibility.  Create opportunities to hear what they believe should be the vision of the ministry and how to get there.  At business meetings ask questions like, “What do you think we should do?”  Then listen carefully to their responses.  It is better to reserve your own opinions and allow the local leaders to express themselves.  Then you can say, “That is what I think we should do.”  This is the same thing we do in parenting.  We do not carry our children for the first five years of their lives; we teach them to walk and how to get back up when they fall.  It is a challenge to want to tell everyone how to do things the “right” way, but do not provide all of the leadership for a fledgling ministry.  Even allowing them to make mistakes is a beneficial part of the self-governing process.  Remember that YOU ARE NOT THE PASTOR!  You are the church planter and you must teach them how to govern themselves under the authority and lordship of Jesus Christ, the head of the Church.

Take the Backseat

The natural, final part of the indigenous ministry process is that of self-propagating.  When the funds are being generated from within the ministry and the leadership is from the ministry, the people themselves take greater ownership.  They are more likely to have better ideas for how to reach out to their communities and how to implement their ideas.  As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”  The converts you win will probably know best how to reach their own people with the Gospel!  Remember that every culture has ways that the Gospel can and will penetrate people’s hearts.  If the people come up with their own creative ideas for outreach, they will have the faith and vision to carry those plans to fruition.

It Works

Two case studies from my experience represent the success of this form of indigenous ministry paradigm.  Using these principles, I helped train a man named Candelario.  He is now an evangelist and has preached to thousands and has helped to establish two local churches in Veracruz.  He has countless stories of how God met his need and provided for him, his family, and his ministry.  What he learned from this model was not to be dependent on American money or American leadership, and it has led to great blessing for him.

Another example is Pedro and Leticia, a young ministry couple that I trained and put into a church to minister in Veracruz.  They bought a building with $300,000 of their own funds (NO American money) while Mexico was in its worst economic situation in years.  They have begun city-wide prayer meetings to stop the violence in Mexico.  They are making a huge impact because they have learned to depend on the Lord rather than this American man, his funds, or his leadership.

The goal of indigenous missions is to make it a “for the people, by the people” work for which they take ownership.  The concepts of self-funding, self-governing, and self-propagating are the critical elements to implement as you look forward to beginning a new, indigenous ministry.

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