One of the key stages in taking the gospel out to every person is the “church movements” stage. As people put their trust in Jesus, they gather into communities of believers. This development is at the core of our OMF vision and work, but what do these churches look like? What are church movements?
Churches come in all shapes and sizes, but what they hold in common is a community of Christians growing together and bringing hope to their people. This isn’t a human invention, it’s God’s plan introduced by Jesus. A church is a community where Christians disciple and support one another but also work to transform their community and society with the power of the gospel. Churches celebrate their hope in Jesus and offer that hope to others who desperately need it. The church is not a hiding place to escape the world, but an equipping body that engages the world. A church develops believers who serve people trapped in the worst situations.
Churches must be indigenous. By indigenous we mean something that belongs to the people, that has grown up in the context, that is not just a foreign import but is the fruit of the gospel planted in the situation and growing up into a church. We expect churches to look different in each people group.
However, this indigenous focus does not mean forgetting scripture. It’s really important they have the bible in their own language and can access it. Churches must be built on the word of God with people learning to treasure it, to understand it, to base their lives on it. If new believers learn to obey everything Jesus has commanded, the resulting church will be biblical.
Our goal is to nurture a church that is biblical and indigenous. It must be biblical, reflecting everything the bible teaches us about church but it also must be indigenous reflecting local culture.
Sometimes a church is planted and the gospel simply stops there. Our vision is not just single isolated churches, but churches planting churches that plant churches until the gospel exerts an influence on the whole of that people, the whole of that place, the whole of that society.
One key to participating in such movements is the use of ministry methods that are reproducible, practices that the new believers can do as well. Christians wanting to see a movement reach out in a way that new Christians can follow, then step back, assist, and watch them as they reach out in the same way. This approach can lead to a multiplying movement.
And churches, communities of followers of Jesus will be planted, living out the gospel throughout their people group. These movements don’t stop with their own people either – they spill over into mission movements to other peoples as well!