Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by a couple who do mission work in a very challenging part of the world. There are perhaps a 100 believers in the people group with whom they work and no indigenous churches. They were very candid in saying that they did not have any "warm fuzzy" success stories to share, but they provided some great insights into the strategy they are using to reach people and plant churches in a difficult environment.
Although they are working to develop relationships with people through a specific platform that will give entree into the society, their goal is developing house churches that are indigenous, organic, and reproducible. There was a good time of discussion in response to the question "What might not be reproducible?" in a church located in a non-western, resource poor area. We talked about how a perceived need for credentialed clergy, printed literature, and buildings could hamper church growth in their situation. Becoming dependent on resources that are not readily available in that context could kill an indigenous church movement.
The key question they asked was, "Do we really believe that the Word of God and the Spirit of God are adequate to plant and grow and church?" This is a good question both in the culture where this missionary couple work and in our own. Are we so dependent on programs and expensive resources that we continually need a new "fix" to keep our churches going? Is it possible that we have neglected the Word of God and the Spirit of God in starting and growing churches?