by George Patterson
Our Lord sends us to disciple every “nation” (people group) by training them to obey all His commands (Matt 28:18-20). This means that we disciple a “nation” only when it is permeated by obedient disciples who also disciple other unevangelized peoples. So we don’t fulfill the mandate by simply starting one missional community amidst a people.
We, or those we send, must start the kind of missional community that grows and reproduces spontaneously as missional communities will, in daughter missional communities, granddaughter missional communities, great-granddaughter missional communities and so on. Spontaneous reproduction of missional communities means the Holy Spirit moves a missional community to reproduce daughter missional communities on its own, without outsiders pushing it (Acts 13:1-3).
I began training pastors in Honduras in a traditional theological institution and had the traditional problems for the traditional reasons. I assumed the bright young men I trained were dedicated because they came to our resident Bible school. Our plan was for them to return to their home towns as pastors.
But the graduates found the gold lettering on their diplomas did not go well with the white-washed adobe walls back home. It enabled them, however, to earn more in the office of the Dole Banana Co. My raspy supervisor had the gall to blame us teachers; he told us, “Close the school; start discipling the people.”
“No,” I argued, “that’s too hard.”
“Excuses! They’re poor, semi-literate, subsistence farmers but you teach as though they were educated, middle class
I wrote my missionary buddies from language school, now spread all over Latin America, fishing for sympathy. They had the same problem!
“I’m a teacher without a classroom!” I complained.
“So,” my supervisor rasped, “teach by extension.”