What should we read to learn best practices in church planting?

The Mission Round Table, Volume 13 #2 (May-August 2018) was titled, “To Make the Word of God Fully Known”: The Bible in Mission and the World. In the editorial Walter McConnell wrote:

As in other matters, the Bible should be our final authority regarding mission and the church. Those of us who strive to be reflective practitioners of mission must make it our aim to base our thinking and work on God’s written Word as we present his living Word to the world so that all may have an opportunity to experience his blessings. To do this we must drench ourselves in God’s Word, saturating our thinking and practice with its message. Mission Round Table, vol.13, #2, p 3.

Over the past year, I have been thinking about how we go about saturating our thinking and practice with the Bible. Often missiology starts thinking about “best practices” and then trawls through the Bible looking for texts to support those practices. This sometimes results in taking passages out of context ( see “When Good Missionaries Get the Bible Wrong” March 13, 2019). A better approach is to start with a study of Scripture seeking to understand the intent of the author in context.

In March 2019 Christianity Today had an article in the “Views” section titled “How to Jump Back In to Bible Reading,” encouraging us to get back into reading the Bible. That is just what I want to encourage. Our Bible reading can get sidetracked by spending too much time reading the latest “how-to” book.

Over the next several months I will be posting missiological reflections on the letters to Timothy and Titus. These letters are about church planting. Indeed all of Paul’s letters relate to church planting; they were part of his strategy in building up the churches. The letters to Timothy and Titus have been referred to as “Pastoral Epistles” for the last couple hundred years. Yet that is somewhat of a misnomer since neither Timothy nor Titus was serving as a pastor. They were delegates or coworkers of Paul in the church planting process in Ephesus and Crete respectively. In Timothy’s situation, he was dealing with a more established church where some elders were teaching a different doctrine. Titus, on the other hand, was left in Crete among newly planted churches to appoint elders who would teach sound doctrine.

I will be highlighting different themes in these letters that have missiological significance and exploring ways in which they might inform our thinking and practice today. In this way, I hope to stimulate your reflection on these letters as well. I am hoping these posts will prompt many to comment so that we all may learn from each other as we seek to saturate our thinking and practice with God’s Word.

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