Anthem Is Planting A Church In India
On Sunday, December 16, 2012, we introduced our members to the church planters we are sending to an unreached people group in India. To protect their cover, we cannot divulge their identities or exact location. However, we can explain the whys, whos, wheres, and hows of this decision.
Sometime ago, we met with the members of our congregation regarding the giving of the church. The intent of this meeting was to inform them that our giving was not what it should be. Like many churches, when the budget weakens, we examine our spending and current budget to see where adjustments should be made.
However, the result was unexpected. Decisevely, the pastors of the church thought we needed to be more generous . . . not less. It's so easy for giving to be one of the first things to go when things get hard for both individuals and the church. As we examined our budget, it was clear that our budget's generosity was not in line with what we expected from our members. In other words, if we want our people to be marked by generosity then the church must lead the way. So, it is our plan that over the next 12 months we will bring our corporate giving into alignement with these expecations.
But this decision led to even more questions. For instance, this means we have more money to give away to the mission of God (Missio Dei). But to who?
Unreached Peoples (Who)
We are a church. The local church is still the hope of the world. This is evident as Jesus died for the church (Ephesians 5:25). The church's mission is about the gospel. Therefore, we want to see more churches who are about the gospel mission of Jesus:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” −Matthew 28:18-20
So we divided our giving into two church-planting categories: local and global. As part of the Acts 29 Network, the local church planting decisions came fairly easy. The global church planting strategy needed more thought, however. Here's what our investigation turned up...
96% of all church planting and missions dollars go to parts of the world where the gospel is readily accessible. These are places where missionaries and churches already exist, known as reached people groups. However, only 4% of the resources (people and money) go to unreached people groups where the gospel is almost nowhere to be found. We call these unreached people groups.
For the first time in history, we are in a position to reach the last unengaged people groups in the world in our lifetime. The local church is in a unique position to get this done fulfilling John's revelation concering Jesus' return:
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb..." −Revelation 7:9
In light of this truth, we felt compelled towards the effort to start a church planting movement to an unreached people group. But where?
For the better part of the last decade, in large part to the work of Pastor Bill Berry, Anthem has been involved all over India equipping pastors and church planters. In fact, two years ago we took a short-term team into India for this reason. India is in the 10-40 window where two thirds of the world's population live, along with most unengaged people groups. There are still many parts of India where there is no access to the gospel. So we found a people group (which must also remain anonymous for security reasons) and set out to reach them. But how?
Church Planting (How)
How? As we said before...church planting. The local church is still the hope of the world and the most effective gospel institution. Rather than supporting independent missionaries who spend their entire lives among a peoples who become dependant on them, we chose to plant a church. One that would ignite a church-planting movement of indigenous people and, by the grace of God, eventually sustain itself without us.
The final question was finding someone better at this than us to serve as a faciliator.
Now that we've established why (generosity), who (unreached peoples), where (India), and how (church planting) to reach the unengaged, we needed to find the right agency to help faciliate God's mission to India and our role in it.
Anthem's mission is to make disciples who make disciples. The mission of our local church planting network, Acts 29, is to plant churches that plant churches. Therfore, it only makes sense that our global partner would follow this same DNA of replication.
That's where Pioneers came in.
Pioneers mobilizes teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches.
Pioneers is an evangelical mission movement with 2,593 international members serving on 248 church-planting teams in 95 countries among 180 people groups in 100 languages. By using a missions agency, like Pioneers, we extend the impact of our local church by delivering a critical support structure. In addition, they provide experienced leaders to help guide key decisions and care for the practical needs of the church planters we support and send.
Organic Not Programmatic
We are so excited about the future of our mission to Marin county and, now, India. By simply being faithful with what God has already provided, we don't need to manufacture programs which require constant fundraising (to support the project) and endless campaigns (to sustain the momentum). Members simply need to continue to do what they are already doing as faithful givers to the mission of Anthem Church, which is really the mission of God, which now includes an unreached people group in northern India.
A people who have previously had no access to the good news of God:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." −John 3:16-17
Would you please join us in praying for our church planters in India? That they would be faithful and His gospel would be fruitful. That who is currently unreached, would some day be reached, to the glory of God.