Sunday, May 07, 2006

Church Planting Where the Sidewalk Ends (Part 1 of 2)

Shel Silverstein's book "Where the Sidewalk Ends" is one of my son Blake's favorite books. On the cover, two kids look over the edge of the sidewalk with great trepidation while their dog scrambles to get his footing. I must say, that at times lately, I have felt both like the children and the dog - out beyond the "Edge - Keep Out" sign.
In response to my "M is for Mud Guy" post, one of our wise mission leaders wrote and reminded me that "church planting begins where the asphalt ends," and told me to "go to the end of the end of the asphalt and a little beyond." Well, that's where we're at -both strategically and physically.
Our great desire is to see a movement of simple churches reproducing themselves throughout our desperately lost state. To see this happen, my conviction has been that we need to be very careful to do everything in as simple, inexpensive, and reproducible of a way as possible - which goes against everything that has been tried here in Rio Grande do Sul. What we have done is to form a core group of believers, begin to worship together as a house church to provide a model of where we are heading, and then to teach them to do evangelistic Bible studies. Our hope is that those who accept Christ through these studies will then form the cores of new house churches and will win and teach others in the same way that was done with them.
But so far, the dream has been slow to come about. I have continually had to beat the drum, emphasize our vision, and try to keep the ship on course. In Shel Silverstein's words, "We shall walk with a walk that is measured and the place where the sidewalk ends." In the meantime, I've been asked a number of times "how is your strategy of house churches and evangelistic Bible studies going?", with a sympathetic shake of the head indicating that it won't work and that I'll come around someday.
In three weeks of canvassing the neighborhood, our core group had a grand total of one study scheduled. I showed up yesterday to go out visiting and to do the study and discovered that the couple had moved. I felt like the dog on the cover of the book, holding on for dear life and scrambling to get my strategic and emotional footing. But after two hours of walking the neighborhood, we now have three studies scheduled and four more strong possibilities for which we need to firm up times. We are out beyond the edge, which is both an exhilarating and frightening place to be - but perhaps we're starting to find our footing!
Coming soon - Church Planting Where the Sidewalk Ends - literally.

1 comment:

Kiki Cherry said...

I love this post. Thank you for the great words of encouragement.