Don’t Leave Home Without…

Recently made friends with an American student who is studying Chinese for the summer at our university. He heard like third-hand that we were leading a local church, so after class last week he caught up with me on the elevator and asked if he could come. Turns out he’s also interested in getting involved in missions in this part of the world. At my house the other day, he asked me what training I had to come here and what kind of preparation I thought was necessary for a guy to start a church here.

While I’m hardly qualified to answer that question fully, I can say some of the things that have been absolutely essential to get us this far. I’m sure that there have been plenty of guys that have arrived in China better prepared than I was, but I am very thankful for my training and really can’t imagine what in the world we would do without it. But his question is a great one; here’s what I would call the basic training package for church-planting in China:

1. Internship in a church-planting ministry NOT in China – at least six months of practical, firsthand training in a successful, wide-open church plant. Several reasons to not have it here, but one of the big ones is that it’s hard to find anyone here that doesn’t have a philosophy altered by the environment. Far better to go somewhere where they’re running full-throttle, then come to China and cool it down a little bit.

2. Mentor that will be perfectly honest with you – someone who will not accept your excuses, someone who thinks outside the box, someone who will hold you biblically accountable. My own mentor was here with us recently, and he smashed me on several counts. Makes me want to kill him, but it’s one of the kindest things anyone’s ever done for me.

3. Proof of language-learning ability – save yourself some time and money and make sure you can learn the hardest language in the world. In my opinion, the language here is far more of a hindrance to Gospel ministry than the government’s restrictions. By the way, probably the best indicators of language learning ability are work ethic and willingness to look like an idiot, not your grades in high school Spanish.

4. Bold ministry to work with in China while you learn the language – find a place where the ministry strategy doesn’t revolve around fear. This is probably the hardest one of these to accomplish. You need to get a vision of a work that God is blessing in China, and not a hundred reasons why He can’t. A hint – if there are people around you saying things like ‘read a letter from the father’ and ‘our club is having a water party,’ you are in the wrong place.

You probably notice some conspicuous absences from the list. A Bible college education, a faithful support base, ability to adapt to culture, etc. are all good, but they’re not the hardest things to get – plenty people do get them, in fact, but still arrive on the field ill-prepared.

If you’re not prepared in one of these areas, but want to be, you need to write Mark at coffey@bcwe.org to find out how.

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3 Comments on “Don’t Leave Home Without…”

  1. Jason Holt June 1, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    Good article! Keep up the good work buddy!

  2. Tracy June 2, 2009 at 7:40 am #

    glad to see you writing again, cousin! keep up the good work–we’re praying for you!

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  1. Check Out This Article « snode news - June 2, 2009

    […] Out This Article A missionary in China just wrote an article that you should go read right now. He explains what you need before going to China to start a […]

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