End Product of One Team
Fon Mission Team Working Document:
Teams increase their effectiveness if they have the desired end in mind. The following paper is an example of the formulation of an End Product. This document then becomes a guide, along with church growth studies and evaluations, for regularly scheduled goal setting.
This team is two years into their work among the Fon of Benin. This paper was written prior to their arrival in Benin.
End Product Discussions
This document is part of our continuing goal-setting and evaluation process. As we have begun to envision what God will do through us beyond the initial stages of language and culture learning, we have found it necessary to define more clearly the "end product" that we hope that God will produce through our work. This process will help us:
(1) set intermediate goals that focus toward the realization of the "end product"; and (2) recognize when we have completed our work as church planters. These definitions shall not interfere with the right of the church in Benin to determine its own course. These goals, while extensive, represent certain theological and missiological fundamentals on the basis of which we must to work as faithful and effective servants of God.
Dealing with the Pagan Past
Because our evangelistic ministry will focus primarily toward those who practice the traditional religion (as opposed to some form of Christianity or Islam), the goals found here will affect almost every area of church life.
The church will be able to effectively confront hostile spiritual forces in the name of Jesus. The church will engage in no syncretistic practices; that is to say, no practices from the pagan environment that would involve a compromise of essential Christian doctrine (to be further defined below).
The church will provide functional substitutes for the practices in the society that, though pagan in orientation, are fundamental to the solidarity of the culture. These functional substitutes shall always represent Christian and, where consistent, traditional values.
The church, especially the leadership, shall rely on no powers other than Creator God for the well-being of the individuals and the community.
The teaching of the church will represent a balanced Biblical theology; that is to say, the Bible is the authoritative source of all teaching and teachers will make every effort to give emphasis to the themes to which Scripture gives emphasis. These essential Biblical themes include:
The multi-faceted nature of God; The Incarnation of Christ, his ministry, teachings and his atonement for our sins;
The meaning and practice of the Lord's Supper; A biblical view of marriage and family; The submission of spiritual powers to the Triune God; The holiness of God and the resulting holiness in Christian life; The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the individual and in the Christian community;
The Kingdom of God, as emphasized in the teaching of Jesus, including:
The Christian's covenant relationship with God; The revelation of God, including his authoritative revelation in Scripture and his ultimate revelation in Jesus;
Responding to God in Worship. These Biblical teachings will be effectively contextualized so that they will be meaningful within the Fon culture.
Well-established congregations will have mature leadership. In most cases this should include the presence of elders/bishops who exercise their biblical role of shepherding and deacons who serve the church in specific ways.
The churches will employ indigenous methods of training evangelists for effective service. The leadership will faithfully interpret and contextualize the scriptures. This will serve as an instructive model in the responsible handling of Scripture for the church. The leadership will possess a long-term vision for the continued expansion of the church, including the capacity to set and pursue specific goals.
The leadership will shepherd and provide spiritual direction for the church. This will be the primary function of the elders, but others in the church may also share in this ministry.
Each local church will provide an atmosphere in which the members can develop individually and corporately into the image of Jesus. Each church will provide teaching aimed at spiritual growth. Teaching will occur on at least two levels:
Teaching directed toward the general needs of the congregation; Teaching directed toward at the specific needs of men, women and children.
Corporate prayer will form a vital part of the life of the local church. Members will actively "disciple" one another; that is to say, help each other become more like Jesus. Members will be accountable to one another, but will not use such accountability manipulatively. Christians will practice spiritual disciplines to aid them in their walk with God.
Small groups and families within the churches will develop spiritual nurture systems.
Evangelism is the intentional initiation of people into the kingdom of God (Abrahams, 1989). As such it is at the heart of the mission of the church and receives priority among the outwardly directed activities of the church.
Each congregation will actively evangelize within the local community. Congregations will assume responsibility for sending evangelists to other communities and to work among other ethnic groups.
This evangelistic activity will result in the continued numeric growth within the congregations and the multiplication of the total number of congregations.
A ministry of development, designed to serve the physical needs of the Fon people will be operative. Projects, though potentially initiated by missionaries, should conform to the following guidelines:
They will be undertaken in cooperation with nationals;
They will address needs recognized by nationals;
With the exception of emergency relief, they will be replicable by the nationals on their budget, within their society, without dependence upon missionary or other outside support;
They shall be integrated with the primary ministry of evangelism. Congregations shall have their own systems for meeting the material needs of their members and for contributing toward the physical well-being of the communities in which they are located. Churches shall give particular attention to the needs of widows, orphans, and the handicapped. Individual Christians shall engage in works of compassion in the name of Jesus.
Just as evangelism is central to the outreach of the church, the regular assembly of Christians is central to the internal life of the church. Ideally, each congregation will have a permanent meeting place. The following elements shall characterize the assemblies of congregations: The corporate offering of praise to God; Observance of the Lord's Supper in a culturally appropriate fashion which demonstrates and teaches the theological significance of the meal; The use of indigenous music, primarily to praise God, but also to teach and to encourage the Christian community; Fellowship and mutual encouragement among Christians; Teaching from the Bible which addresses the spiritual needs of the church; Prayer.
Christians will seek harmonious relationships with one another. Individuals and congregations will avoid interdenomination conflict. Congregations shall work together on mutually agreed projects to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the Fon and surrounding peoples.
Before relocating, the team of missionaries expects to see:
A total Christian population among the Fon of ________________; ______________ congregations of the churches of Christ among the Fon people; That the demographic composition of these congregations be representative of the surrounding cultural in the following areas: