Remember the Burger King commercial from decades ago? Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun! These days my favorite drink at Starbucks is a grande, sweetened, shaken, iced, black tea lemonade. In each case, there is a particular order in which to place your order!
What we’re ordering up in Latin America is a healthy, autonomous, indigenous, reproducing, Free Methodist Church in each country.
That’s a mouthful and quite a string of adjectives. In English, adjectives come before the object; you start with the modifiers and wind up with the most important thing. Spanish grammar puts the most important thing first and the modifiers come after. Let me explain it in the order of Spanish grammar.
Church. Our primary goal is to establish local groups of believers who are committed to following Jesus and living out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission together. Church is not just one local group but also an organic interrelated network of groups and congregations. This is the most important thing: we are the Church, not an NGO.
Free Methodist. Although we partner with others and understand that the Kingdom of God is broader, we have a particular theology, heritage, and connection. We work with and through recognized leadership and submit to authority/accountability. While we may appreciate and borrow from other groups, our theology and polity determine our identity.
Reproducing. We multiply disciples, leaders, groups and churches. Every “mission field” also shares the responsibility to send missionaries and reach other people groups or regions with the Gospel. Reproduction is in our DNA.
Indigenous. Our communication of the gospel and the way we do church must be contextualized -- or tropicalized – to take root in local culture. Our message and our structures must be translated into each country and into the different ethnic groups, social classes, and geographic regions that make up each country.
Autonomous. We believe that decision-making should be moved to the lowest possible level so that church leadership comes from within. With appropriate training, coaching and guidance local leaders need to determine their own destiny.
Healthy. We do not want to foster dependency on outside resources or perpetuate dysfunctional patterns of relating. Our goal is to see churches and networks that are spiritually and emotionally clear and vibrant, whole and holy.
For years we’ve been saying our mission is to fuel and sustain a biblical movement to reach Latin America for Christ by developing leaders, planting churches, and creating healthy sustainable systems. That will result in a healthy, autonomous, indigenous, reproducing, Free Methodist Church in each country in Latin America. Others can debate which states our mission and which is our vision. However you slice it, this is what we are about.
This means whatever we do -- including sending missionaries or VISA groups, sponsoring ICCM children and giving to Extra Mile Projects – should contribute to fueling and sustaining a biblical movement to reach Latin America for Christ and should ultimately result in a healthy, autonomous, indigenous, reproducing, Free Methodist Church in each country.
Now would you like a grande, sweetened, shaken, iced, black tea lemonade to go with your two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun?
written by Paul Olver