Invest in national leaders: The most effective way to fulfill the goal of reaching Latin America for Christ is to identify and invest in emerging leaders with the greatest potential and existing leaders with the best track record of growth. We must reward fruitfulness, give opportunity for exposure and training, and strategize to remove barriers to growth. For the reasons stated above, North American Missionaries are most effective when they can get behind and contribute to the vision and strategy of national leaders. Leaders sharpen other leaders; leaders who are in similar situations or kinds of ministry benefit greatly from hearing each other's experience, sharing best practices, and developing peer accountability. There is great power in gathering cohort groups around common challenges and opportunities, such as church planting, supervision and coaching, leading larger churches, or developing urban strategies. In most cases husbands and wives are partners in ministering, functioning as co-pastors whether both are ordained or not. So, wherever possible, spouses should be included in resourcing opportunities.

Invest in sustainability: A common temptation is to place funding where there is the greatest need. However that often fosters dependency rather than growth. Faithfulness should be honored and celebrated, but not necessarily funded. Rather than focusing on problem areas and the weakest link, there is greater fruit in funding the places that exhibit health and strength. Some Mission Districts set out to recreate the administrative structure of an established North American Conference. It is better to invest in lean and flexible structures and appropriate systems to fuel and sustain an apostolic movement. The lines of accountability, supervision and funding have run between each individual country (or Mission District) and the U.S. Greater sustainability and strength will come through fostering a sense of shared vision and mission among Latin American leaders. Part of investing in sustainability is training and trusting national leaders to make decisions about funding.

Invest in urban strategies: The last two centuries of world missions has seen distinct stages:

  • Coasts -- At first the call was to establish beachheads on the coasts. Transportation was by ship and coastal areas were accessible. 

  • Continents -- The focus then shifted to Inland Missions, reaching the villages and rural areas in the interior of the continents.

  • Cultures -- In the last half of the 20th Century the focus of missions was on reaching People Groups, identifying and evangelizing people based on culture and ethnicity rather than geography.

  • Cities -- Most mission strategists agree we are now in a new era of missions when we must focus on reaching the great and growing urban areas. 2007 was the first year in human history that more people worldwide lived in cities than in rural areas. Cities are strategic hubs - for education, communication, transportation, immigration, media, business, fashion, and more. 84% of the population of Latin America is urban. Reach the city, and you will reach the country; reach Latin America, and you will touch the world. Cities are reached through planting clusters or networks of churches, not isolated outposts. Urban strategies require appropriate partnerships, since the city is beyond the capacity of any one denomination. Reaching cities will require more resources, since the cost of living and the cost of property is more expensive, but the greater investment required will also produce greater dividends. Planting churches in cities usually results in churches multiplied in smaller towns and rural areas - but planting churches in rural areas rarely results in churches multiplied in the city.
Delia Nüesch-Olver
Country leaders of the Free Methodist Church in Latin America…


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