Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Looking At The World With Eyes Towards A Harvest

Looking At The World As A Mosaic Of Reachable People

The M Factor describes the 5 levels at which
and within which mission occurs

When Dr. McGavran spoke about the segments of society which ultimately became known as the Homogeneous Unit Principle he never intended it be taken as it's critics used it to make the gospel exclusionary but rather to teach us why barriers of culture, age, language, economics and social structures need to be removed so that the gospel can be heard clearly. It was to McGavran a critical principle of inclusion. The world, as Jesus described it in our task is to disciple the "panta ta ethne". Rather than an out and out criticism of the concept why not ask a critical question; "If we were to put our energy into taking down barriers to the gospel rather than putting them up what difference would it make for eternity?" These slides from one of the classes I teach at the seminary discusses the 5 levels at which mission occurs. There is an increasing need for the removal of barriers as the distance from the communicator to the target audience increases. McGavran saw this as an opportunity. If we would take down those barriers multitudes of the currently unreached would become fully devoted disciples.

If we hear McGavran's heart and look carefully at our world we will see that rather than seeing a principle of exclusion but rather a principle of inclusion. If I was asked to describe the principle I would describe it this way. "The church grows best as it heterogeneously matches its community with many homogeneous groups within it." It in reality is a way to show the gospel itself transcends barriers but allows the gospel to wear the unique cultural clothes of every segment of society

The Final Lectures
Dr. Donald McGavran
Lecture 9

The Mosaic of Mankind
Mankind consists of a vast mosaic of tens of thousands of pieces.  When one goes to Mexico City and walks past the wall of the library of its great university, he sees a mosaic covering that wall.  It is a 100 yard long picture composed not of paint but of millions of pieces of colored glass—some blue, some red, some purple, some gray, some white and some black.  That mosaic typifies mankind.
Is this view of mankind biblically sound?  Of course it is!  The Old Testament is absolutely full of peoples, tribes and separate segments of mankind—the Moabites, Ammorites, Hivites, Perizites, Philistines, Syrians, Egyptians, and on and on.  Even in Israel there were twelve tribes, each of which considered itself quite separate from the others.
In our Lord’s day, the Levites were very careful to marry Levites.  Only such Levites as had an impeccable levitical ancestry on both sides of the family could serve as priests in the temple.
When we come to the New Testament we find that the command to proclaim the gospel to all peoples emphasizes this segmental characteristic.  The command is matheteusate panta ta ethne.  We are not told to matheteusate all the millions of men and women.  We are told to matheteusate panta ta ethne, all the ethnic units, all the groups of men and women, all the segments of society, all the pieces of the vast human mosaic.
Dr. Billy Kim FEBC. Taking down barriers by
broadcasting the gospel to different cultures
and language groups
It is necessary today to emphasize this because in America, this vast nation which spreads from the Atlantic to the Pacific, we are constantly emphasizing that we are one people.  We must not allow the Cubans flooding into Florida or the Mexicans flooding into California to continue to speak Spanish alone.  English must become the one national language.  Men and women of every part of the mosaic must receive the same wages for the same work, equal education must be available to all of them.  They are all Americans.  Facing this overwhelming conviction, Christian radio has come to the conclusion that the gospel must be broadcast to all, and those whom God chooses from every segment of society will join “our church.”  When one becomes a Christian, a Spirit-filled follower of the Lord Jesus, a Bible-obeying man or woman, he or she is then part of a new order of society in which there is no Jew, no Greek, no slave, no free, no male, no female.
However, despite both the secular nationalistic thrust for unity and the Christian conviction which maintains that all Christians are equally saved, the various Branches of the Church have gathered unto themselves like-minded people.
They will continue to do this, because mankind is a mosaic made up of thousands of pieces.  Men and women of each piece like to join congregations made up of people like themselves, speaking the same language, receiving the same incomes, having the same amount of education, and thinking very much alike.  The fact of the matter is that as the Great Commission is carried out, as all the ethnic units, all segments of society, are discipled, the Church of Jesus Christ will continue to be made up of a vast series of Christianized segments.  Because they are Christianized, they will grow increasingly like each other.  However, the differences of language, culture, income, and place of residence will continue, and like-minded congregations will multiply in each piece of the mosaic.
Dr. George Mambeleo. Training tribal leaders in Evangelism
for unique ministries in the villages of Kenya
The modern city is not made up of one kind of men and women but of many, many different kinds—business executives, government officers, daily laborers, university professors, ditch diggers, illiterates, semi-illiterates, and many, many others.  In some segments the average income is  $50,000 a year; in others it is $5,000 a year.
Each segment must be won to Christ on its own level.  If it is invited to join a church composed of men and women living on a different level, it will reject Christ very largely because the Savior is obscured by His congregation.  Let me give you some examples to drive home this essential truth.
Twenty years ago I was conducting a church growth seminar in the Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.  After one of the sessions I fell into conversation with Dr. Everett Koop, now the surgeon general of the United States.  He said to me, “A black tide has swept up around this old church on three sides.  Large numbers of men and women from the deep south now live as our close neighbors.  They do not, however, attend our church.  What ought we to do to win them to Christ?”
I replied, “You must become an integrated church.”  “We are an integrated church,” he responded.  “We have at least fifteen black families as members of our congregation.  “What then is your problem?” I asked in amazement.
“These black families drive in from the suburbs.  They include none of the blacks living in the immediate neighborhood.”
Immediately a picture of the exact situation formed in my mind.  The blacks living in the suburbs were affluent blacks, college graduates who held good positions.  The blacks from the deep south who lived around the church were of a very different culture, income and education.  Had they attended the Tenth Presbyterian Church, they might not even have understood the sermons or the hymns.
“If the Tenth Presbyterian Church is to win these people to Christian faith,”  I replied, “it must start many house churches among them within—let us say—a half mile of the church buildings.  These new churches would be led by ministers of eighth-grade education or less.”
“Dr. McGavran!” exclaimed Dr. Koop.  “Presbyterians never have any ministers of eighth-grade education or less!”
The second illustration of the fragmented nature of American society presents one of the many segments of white society.  Americans are divided not mere into whites and blacks but into many kinds of whites and many kinds of blacks.  In addition, there are many kinds of Hispanics, Chinese, Portuguese, French Canadians, secularists and humanists.  Some of these can, of course, be successfully incorporated into existing congregations or disciple into new congregations.  In the congregation in Philippi, we remember, there were both Lydia, a cloth merchant, and an unnamed jailer, who was socially and economically some distance removed from her.  Until Christians see these distinctions and plan to multiply Christian congregations (house churches or cells) in each unreached segment of society, we shall not see the kind of church growth which God desires and commands.
Now a further illustration.  The year was 1966, twenty years ago.  I was conducting the annual Church Growth Seminar at Winona Lake, Indiana, which is the headquarters of the Free Methodist denomination.  Six bishops of the Free Methodist Church asked me to meet with them.  They laid before me a road block in the communication of the Christian faith which had stopped their advance.
The Free Methodist Church had many churches in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio, and southeast Michigan, in which Toledo and Detroit were large cities.  Into this part of North America tens of thousands of Appalachians had migrated in the previous twenty years.  These lived in the neighborhoods of many of the Free Methodist congregations.  Yet the Appalachians very seldom joined the Free Methodist churches.  When invited to attend, they might come once or twice but not afterward.  Even the few who occasionally joined a Free Methodist church did not remain.
Dr. Donald McGavran
“What,” asked the bishops, “are we doing wrong?  What must we do to win this largely unchurched segment of our population?”
As we talked, it became clear that the existing Free Methodist congregations were made up of convinced, practicing Christians.  They and usually their parents and grandparents had been Christians for a long time.  They were respectable people in the community.  They generally were fairly well to do.  The Appalachians, on the other hand, were quite a different type of American.  They spoke a slightly different kind of English.  They lived at a different economic level.  They were a different piece of the mosaic.  Please remember that they were Anglos, Americans, and did not consider themselves in any way different from the Free Methodists, but they were a different piece of the mosaic.
After much conversation, I said to the bishops, “If you really want to win the Appalachians, you had better plan to start a good many new congregations consisting of these Appalachians, pastured by Appalachians, with church boards and Sunday School teachers made up of Appalachians.  When an Appalachian comes to this church, he will feel completely at home.  “These,” he will say contentedly, “are my kind of people.”
Another illustration of precisely this piece of a somewhat similar piece of mosaic comes from northeastern Ohio.  On my 1939 furlough, I spoke to a hundred-year-old Christian Church congregation.  It was a strong rural church founded by well-to-do farmers a hundred years before.  By 1939 a nearby city had started to spread out in its direction.  The pastor said to me, “We have tried, without much success, to get the city people living within a quarter of a mile of our church to attend. They could easily come, but they do not.”  The church was only about half full.  In 1948 my board again sent me to speak on missions to that congregation.  That Sunday the church was full.  Indeed, chairs had been placed in the center aisle, and many were standing on the verandah looking in through the open windows.  The entire building was packed.
I exclaimed to the pastor, “What on earth has happened?”  He replied, “A year ago we held a month-long revival meeting and took in 111 new members.  Immediately we held an election, chose a new church board and new Sunday School teachers.  The leadership of the church now was very largely composed of the suburban people who lived around the church.  The old farming community no longer dominated the church.”
“The twelve or fifteen families who had composed the church in the 30’s and early 40’s must have been very angry.”  I said.  “No,” the pastor responded, “they were very pleased.  They realized that the church must look like a city church and that this was the best way to bring that about.”
Here again a new segment of Anglo population had been enrolled in the church.  Educationally, economically and socially it was not very different from the farming community.  But it was different.  As soon as this difference was recognized, the ripe sheaves that lay all around the church could be reaped. 
I must mention here the experience of the South Gate Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado.  Ten year ago its membership had decreased from over 1200 to under 700 and was sinking every year.  Its pastor decided to call Dr. Win Arn and myself to hold a church growth seminar in which 85% of the attendants were members of his church.  As Dr. Arn and I prepared for this seminar, we made a careful study of what had actually happened.  The picture was quite clear.  Nearly half of the members of that congregation had moved from a section of the city around the church out to a more attractive section outside the suburb.  Another section of population had moved in.  The other section did not join the church.  Here was a different segment of the population which could have been won, had the South Gate Presbyterians been passionately concerned with church growth.  Had they been Pentecostals filled with the Holy Spirit, they would have no doubt gone after these people, started new groups of the redeemed among them, and wooed them into the church.  Here effective evangelism could have won them.  But that evangelism would have been considerably warmer and more effective than that which those Presbyterians were at that time employing.  Consequently, Dr. Arn and I, in our church growth seminar, spoke of two needs—first, to reach out, start new groups led by a different kind of people in the congregation, and work and pray for an active communication of the Christian faith by groups of committed men and women—existing members—of that congregation.  We also emphasized the need to make sure that the newcomers, very soon indeed, formed classes of their own so that the South Gate Presbyterian Church would be seen as one to which “the residents of our part of town liked to go.”
The mosaic of mankind is a social necessity, which all those who obey eternal God’s command must take into account.  It must not be supposed that society is made up of one kind of people.  Every segment of mankind must find growing within it congregations of the redeemed.  As these multiply, they will bring about a new sense of brotherhood, equality and human oneness.  This new humanity, however, will not be the easy, immoral, humanist view that all men, no matter what their religion or lack of religion may be, are essentially one.  That humanist view which is sweeping the western world at the present time is taking increasingly large numbers in America into an immoral social order.  Bible-based Christian brotherhood, however, insists that the different segments of mankind, at least by its deeply Christian members, be treated with love, justice, kindness and righteousness.  The Christian movement enrolls only such as determine to live in Christ.  The tens of thousands of house churches, Sunday School classes, evangelistic Bible studies, and the like bring about and will continue to bring about the rule of brotherhood, love and justice in all pieces of the mosaic.
This will not destroy the pieces of the mosaic.  They will continue on.  We read in Rev. 7:9 that that at the end before the throne and the Lamb there will be “a great multitude from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”  All these will be Christians.  All these will love all other Christians.  All these will promote brotherhood and justice and kindness and righteousness.  But they will not wipe out the social distinctions.  The segments of mankind will continue until the end.  The vast human mosaic will still be there.  But its sinful aspects will have been eliminated.  That is clear.
Church growth simply maintains that we must continue to recognize that mankind is a mosaic.  Into every piece must flow the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.  The growth of the church will not meld green, white, black, yellow, purple and red pieces of the mosaic into one dark grey piece.  No, the red will remain red, the white will remain white, the purple will remain purple.  But in each of these ethnic units societies of the redeemed will multiply.
Not only will societies of the redeemed multiply but they will also break down and wash away the hates, rivalries, oppressions, prides and persecutions which in the unredeemed world always mar the mosaic of mankind.  The mosaic will remain, but it will re a redeemed mosaic.  As Christians, ministers, laymen and seminaries come to realize this aspect of mankind, God will be able to use them much more effectively for a spread of the gospel and a discipling of all the ethne in the world.

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