Friday, August 04, 2006

End-vision

One of the concepts we were taught at IMB Strategy Coordinator training when I attended in Germany back in 2001 was what was referred to as "end-visioning". The definition of "end-visioning" from our manual reads as follows:

Viewing the phases within a linear process from the end to the beginning in contrast to the normal means of viewing them, which is in succession from the beginning to completion.

The "end" we are "end-visioning" in our missionary strategy has a very signficant impact on the various steps we take in order to arrive at that "end". Many times in missionary work, we find what is at hand, what we like to do, what we are able to do, and start doing that without any real "vision" of what is the ultimate "end" to which we are working.

The whole concept of Church Planting Movements is very much tied in to the idea of "end-visioning". If we are to be the best stewards of the resources with which God has entrusted us, it is no longer good enough to just evangelize and plant churches one at a time. In order to get to the ultimate goal in mind, whether it be described as the "saturation" of a country or a people group with New Testament churches, or self-perpetuating, indigenous "church planting movements," there are certain steps that should be taken. It is also important the order in which these steps should be taken. And the best way to determine this is to start at the end, and to trace your steps back from there, until you reach the beginning.

From a biblical viewpoint, the example of Paul in Ephesus and Asia Minor as cited in Acts 19.10 is held out as a commendable "end-vision": And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. I personally love Paul’s strategy in Ephesus. Many of our present ministry goals are modeled after the "school of Tyrannus" (v. 9).

But, as I have meditated more on missionary strategy from the perpective of "end-vision", I have become convinced that Paul’s ultimate "end-vision" for Ephesus and Asia Minor was not merely that "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." I believe the real "end-vision" of Paul is better captured in Ephesians 4.1-16, especially verse 13: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

As I understand it, according to this, neither Saturation Church Planting nor Church Planting Movements, in and of themselves, are an ambitious enough "end-vision". They are important steps along the way to the "end-vision", but they are not the complete "end" to which we are working. Paul’s "end-vision" for the work in Ephesus and Asia Minor was nothing less than complete spiritual unity, discipleship, and maturity of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in that geographical area.

If this is the "end-vision" we have in mind, it will dramatically affect the steps we take to reach it. We cannot settle for methodologies that will perhaps help produce numerical growth, or even spontaneous multiplication of indigenous congregations, if these same methods in any way short-circuit the ultimate "end-vision" of unity, discipleship and maturity of the believers.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you have in mind any specific examples of methods that might short-circuit unity, discipleship, or maturity?

Micah said...

David, good post! End-visioning is one of the greatest concepts I've ever come across when it comes to church planting. Thanks for highlighting our need for planning, and caution in planning.

OKpreacher said...

David,

Thanks for the article. It give me a lot to think about and work through in my own ministry.

OKpreacher

David Rogers said...

Anonymous,

I plan on addressing your question in my next post. Stay tuned...

David

Ken Sorrell said...

So true that our endvision needs to be larger than we might be able to get our hands and our minds around. Your words of challenge of also working toward a unity of the body and a singular focus on our God is a tremendous reminder to all of us.

If I can jump start your next post, at a recent AGM one of our missionaries who is in the midst of a CPM shared thta was asked by a Baptist leader, "Why is it that U.S. churches want to come down and take our best to serve in the states when they are so desperately needed here?"

When our desire and stratgies to grow override our ability to see a much larger vision and the impact of our actions, something is amiss. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this. I also hope and pray that between you, Guy, Mr. T, myself, and maybe others, our blogs will begin a level and focus of discussion that will encourage others to pause and think about what and how they do missions and that these interchanges will be honoring to our Lord.

James Hunt said...

Great thoughts, David!

How refreshing to hear of a missionary with such a balanced perspective on CPM and what it, or any other strategy's end game should be.

It's not about numbers...it's exactly as you've heralded in this fine post.

Neill Mims said...

Great stuff here and in the previous post discussion about Saturation Church Planting. (And I'll try to be less "missio speak" in this post as that last one for those who don't like the non-lawyer talk)!

We do have to keep everything in balance regarding an endvision and getting there. The great thing about planting churches is that you have to ultimately be doing several things fairly right -- like sharing about Christ, evengelizing individuals, getting them into ongoing Bible Studies and help them become leaders in the churches. Then as they meet for years to come (hopefully til Christ returns) in these churches studying God's Word and worship, fellowship, evangelize, minister and doing missions, they get (hopefully) deeply discipled and part of that Body -- AND can become leaders and multipliers of other churches now or eventually)

We are teaching something in South Asia and it has spread a bit to PacRim and maybe some other places that each strategy for churches and mature believers (discipled, more unity, mature) should have these "5 Parts of a Church Planting Movement Strategy":

1. Entry: (Not "platform" but how do we (and eventually help dozens, hundreds, or thousands of others) open our mouths to start talking to people about Jesus (not just start talking even though that might be the first few sentences). example: tell my story, evangecube, Camel, 4 Spiritual Laws (some of these cross over to #2 below but some are to just start talking about Jesus and there are many more).

2. Gospel: How do we make the Gospel clear (may take 8 minutes or five meetings with a person) and help people receive Christ.

[In some tough cultures really have to spend years in #1 and #2 before they get to #3 -- but let's rejoice that even the Gospel is shared with one person and not only the places we plant multiple churches! But you can be doing #3 before people come to Christ if they are willing to meet and talk about Jesus... That is... if you have been meeting someone for 6 weeks or 8 years with someone before they accept Christ... after they accept Christ they are that more knowledgeable about Him but now can reinterpret that "data" into "wisdom".]

3. Discipleship which has 2 or more parts:
a. Short Term Discipleship
6-18 lessons that you can
cover the basics of the
faith and a daily
relationship with Christ.
b. Long Term Discipleship:
1-3 years of on-going
worship and Bible Study
that helps people under-
stand and incorporate
much more of the Christian
life and "keep hold of the
deep truths of the faith
with a clear conscience"
(1 Tim 3:9)

4. Church Formation: How to "do" and "be" church. This has to be intentional and many people have to understand how a church operates if there are to be healthy churches.

5. Leadership Multiplication: How do we multiply leaders to start new healthy churches.

Then as we do some of these things as best we can... with God as the real "seed multiplier and grower" we get to be maybe .01% of church planting while God and others do the other 99.9%. (Matthew 4:26-29)

IN HIS NAME said...

David,

My HEART goes out to all the Missionaries, who are sharing the WORD of JESUS CHRIST.

The SBC sure needs the Unity of CHRIST here in the United States.

You are ALL in My PRAYERS

A Brother in CHRIST

Paul Burleson said...

David,

Two things. One is this is a great post. The other is you have been prayed for this week. Keep up the the good work.

mr. t said...

David,

Thanks for the post. You are right, church planting and cpm are not the end, but a means to the end of seeing God's glory expressed through His church.

We are using a "School of Tyrannus" strategy where we serve in South Asia. We have discovered that a cpm strategy must include extensive discipleship of new believers for reproduction to occur. Where there is a lot of planting but no cultivation, we don't see multiple generations of believers, churches and leaders. Instead we see the first spiritual generation doing all of the work, which never leads to multiplying churches and reaches a limited number.

The way to spiritual maturity and unity in the body of Christ is the way of the cross. It is obedience based (instead of knowlege only) discipleship that leads to character development and fruitful ministry.

Blessings and thanks for the great post.

GuyMuse said...

At what point in "end-visioning" is the "missionary task" ended? When should we M's make our exit leaving the continuing task of the church to fulfill Paul's Eph.4:13 end vision?

David Rogers said...

Guy,

You make a valid point about "end-vision" and the missionary task. IMO, the missionary task (as opposed to on-going ministry) will phase out a good while before the ultimate "end-vision" is accomplished. However, the steps we as missionaries take from the very beginning of the work will be determinative as to whether or not that "end-vision" is eventually reached or not.

mr. t said...

Guy and David,

Leaving for the missionary is a very subjective thing. I think there are different roles to play, even for missionaries. Obviously following the lead of the Holy Spirit is major. One thing we do to help us discern when to "leave" is ask ourselves, "Are my disciples reproducing another generation of disciples?" Also, "Are the first generation churches reproducing new churches?" This means we see second and third generations with complete authority and autonomy to obey the Great Commission. Then we stay in touch to encourage through other Timothys, correspondence and personal revisits.