Focusing on the church is a key way to get at the soundness of a ministry strategy. My foundational belief is that the church should be the center of evangelism, discipleship, meeting human needs, and ultimately, any missionary task.
Here is what I mean:
Strategy #3: Make Disciples
Missionary: The great commission clearly states that we are to make disciples. That’s the mandate that I’m following.
Me: How will that start or build churches?
Sound church strategy: I intend to find or develop like-minded disciplers from within a local church and help believers mature within that congregation. Then, they will start new churches. The focus will be on helping local believers mature so that churches can be strengthened and reproduce.
Unsound church strategy: I’ve heard that the local believers don’t really get the concept of discipleship, and that many of the churches are unhealthy. It will be easier to just find a few faithful men to invest in. As they mature, they may find a way to serve in their local church, but for us, “church” will be when our discipleship group gathers each week. I expect this to create a church planting movement.
What should we do?
Talk with the missionary about the functions of the church and how a disciple-making ministry should interface within the context of a church. Doing the hard work of connecting with local churches and influencing them to better make disciples is more effective than having a separate disciple-making ministry. Talk with the missionary about how ministry through the church can have greater impact on the whole community and every age than a one-to-one disciple-making ministry. Guide the disciple-making missionary to see that disciple making is most effective, holistic, and biblical when done in the context of a local church.
See summary article here posts on unsound strategy: Humanitarian Aid, Evangelism, Business as Mission, Making Disciples, and the House Church Movement.