Friday, January 25, 2019

Planting Cross-Cultural Churches

Mark 16:16 says, "And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." This is the basis for which Christian's all around the world shares the gospel of Jesus to others.

Cross-cultural church planting is more than missions itself. It is the desire to impact a new culture and make a difference in the lives of the people in that area. A successful cross-cultural church plant will not only impact the culture but will desire to make a difference in the surrounding neighbourhoods, cities and communities or villages.
This church plant will create disciples of Jesus that can be sent out to other communities to share the gospel. The goal of a cross-cultural church plant is more than just creating four-walls to worship in; it is about creating a living breathing church that spreads the Gospel not only to the current area of the church but surrounding communities. This living ministry will build a network of churches to continue making a difference in this region.

Statistics indicate that new churches are “more effective at winning people to Christ.[1] 

What is Culture?
 It is important to realize that culture goes beyond ethnicity, though it does not exclude it.  Charles Gailey and Howard Culbertson define it as such: “Culture means the customs, ways of thinking, and material products of individual societal groups. [2]
The Brazilian Bishop John Carlos Lopes share that culture is a mental map of how to live and respond to life[3].
Thus, various cultures can exist even in places of homogenous ethnicity.  Culture can distinguish age groups, socio-economic groups, regional groups, educational groups, to name a few.  One need only thinks about the “worship wars” that have occurred in churches to see the clash of cultures.

So it is important to know that there is a multitude of cultures inside of our cities and even in many British families across the country.

There is a major difference between a multicultural church and a cross-cultural church.
A multicultural church is a church that has people from many different cultures, without necessarily becoming one, or having people from all these cultures represented in its leadership and decision making bodies.
The cross-cultural church is the church with people from many different cultures that are working together in one mission and as a consequence, a new style of church emerges, and a third culture that challenges and respond to all is developed.

Contextualizing evangelism
The world is changing rapidly and the way that we communicate the message must change with it!
The gospel is unchangeable but the way we do share it must be contextual and relevant.

If the church wants to reach these people with the gospel of Christ we need to do things differently to reach a people group that see things differently.

There is something comforting for people about speaking their native tongue, but it is also important for people to hear the message in their cultural relevant accent and even with their “slangs”. 

A Cross-cultural church is a church in movement and constant change
Becoming settled in one’s own culture can significantly limit our ability to be changed and transformed.  We really do need the entire Body of Christ!  And, more importantly, we need the Holy Spirit to enliven the Gospel message in God’s Church!

The goal in cross-cultural church planting is to go beyond a single culture to communicate Jesus in a way that is simple, relevant and without the cultural understandings of culture.

The formula “Jesus + ? = Salvation” is important in the way that a cross-cultural church decides what cannot be changed and what can in the presentation of the gospel.

Any excursion into cross-cultural ministry will be a demanding task that requires intentionality.  Cross-cultural ministries require that we are changed, whereas, multi-cultural churches may only require superficial change. 
To truly make room for the other, we may find ourselves living as “150% persons.[4]   This demands persons accommodating and adapting to the cultural norms of other cultures so that communication might happen between people.  This may mean a diminishing home in our native culture, but it opens up wonderful possibilities for being transformed into followers of Christ.

A new church plant must reproduce itself.

An important characteristic of a church planting movement is that a church that has been planted is more likely to plant another church[5].

A cross-cultural church has the blessing to reach and influence people from many nations, languages and cultural backgrounds. That is as challenging as it is a great opportunity. New churches can have in their DNA the multiplying or planting factor (that can be developed) and will be more mission minded and planting minded communities, not only in this country but to the ends of the world.

Points to consider:

-    The cross-cultural church plant is a response to our global country.
-    Churches that plant, grow three times faster[6].
-    A new church gains 60-80% of its membership from new conversions[7].

-    Paul's whole strategy was to plant urban churches. The greatest missionary in history, St.Paul, had a rather simple, two-fold strategy. First, he went into the largest city of the region (cf. Acts 16:9,12), and second, he planted churches in each city (cf. Titus 1:5- "appoint elders in every town"). Once Paul had done that, he could say that he had 'fully preached' the gospel in a region and that he had 'no more work' to do there (cf. Romans 15:19,23). This means Paul had two controlling assumptions: a) that the way to most permanently influence a country was through its chief cities, and b) the way to most permanently influence a city was to plant churches in it. Once he had accomplished this in a city, he moved on. He knew that the rest that needed to happen would follow[8].

[1] Sullivan, Bill M. Churches Starting Churches: A New Church Evangelism Missional Call to Nazarenes Everywhere. Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 2001. 39.
[2] Gailey, Charles R., and Howard Culbertson. Discovering Missions. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2007. 90.
[3] Sermon preached in Panama city in August 2018.
[4] Lingenfelter, Sherwood G., and Marvin Keene Mayers. Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. Print. 119.
[5] Ed Stetzer at
[7] Ibid
[8] Tim Keller at

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