"It's a long, long way from the pamphlet to the plane. And it's even a longer way from the plane to becoming an effective church planter."Ralph D. Winter
Who are some of the people that may make up the path from pamphlet to plane to effective planter?
I want to introduce you to just four that come to mind.
For someone to even get a "pamphlet" or hear about the potential of being a long term cross cultural worker, there must be a mobilizer. A mobilizer, more than likely, is a person who has willingly chosen to "stay" so that more can "go." A mobilizer helps a person discovery the Biblical story and points them to the possibilities of their role in Christ's Great Commission. Mobilizers put the pamphlet in people's hands, they point them to the web site, or to the biography. Many of them walk with an interested person all the way through the process of finding the right ministry to serve. They are sold out for the cause of building fresh momentum for God's global purposes and work to disciple people into God's heart for the nations.
Without the supporter, a whole team of them in fact, a cross cultural worker is most probably going nowhere. Even many who choose to teach oversees will still need additional financial support in order to remain viable long term. If they are doing Spiritual work, they will definitely need prayer support. The support team is usually made up of people who know you, love you, and trust you as a person. But they most likely will only support you long term justified by what you do. So without building relationships and trust over time, a person will never move beyond the pamphlet. The supporter wants to know that your light has been shining brightly at home before they trust that you will shine bright cross culturally. So you may have some times and seasons of faithfulness that precede your launch into longer term cross cultural work.
It could be safe to say that most Bible colleges and Christian universities don't train people how to be effective cross cultural workers. At best they can give them some general courses on missions history or cross cultural communications, but much of what is learned for cross cultural church planting, especially in frontier contexts, comes from field practitioners who have made it their ministry to train others. Finding the relevant courses and trainers can make the difference between someone who has the desire to be effective and someone who actually is effective in the work of pioneer church planting. Some people go out and face years of frustration only to realize later that they are missing the right kind of training and preparation. I have received training in support raising, interpersonal conflict resolution, contextualization, and organic church planting...in addition to theology and missiology. I learned a lot from the school of hard knocks too!
The sage is someone who has been working in cross cultural settings for decades and is willing to pass down their wisdom and experiences to new hopefuls. When I first went to serve cross culturally I chose to serve with a couple who had been in the same country for decades. My family and I were able to get up to speed much more quickly than other friends who started out on their own. My language learning progressed faster and my understanding of the culture professed faster because of the influence of the sage. The sage is usually very busy and most probably will need to be sought out by you. By honoring the gift of God in the sage, you will receive the reward of gleaning from all of their hard won life lessons. No one says you have to make all of the mistakes yourself. It is much better to learn from the mistakes of others.
These are just a few people you will meet and connect with on the journey from the pamphlet to the plane to being an effective planter.
Who else would you add to this list?