What Stateside churches can learn from their Ecuadorian brethren

Guy comes through with some good questions and observations...
"Along this same theme, Thom Rainer in an article for the Florida Baptist Witness 'The Dying American Church.' states the following:

The facts of a 2004 research project I led are sobering. It takes 86 church members in America one year to reach a person for Christ...if the research is even close to accurate, the reality is that the church is not reproducing herself. In just one or two generations, Christianity could be so marginalized that it will be deemed irrelevant by most observers...

Compare this to the 3:1 baptism ratio as shared in one of my previous posts of the folks in our house churches here in Guayaquil. It takes three of them one year to baptize one new believer. While that is a far cry from our goal of every believer winning/discipling eight per year, it sure beats an 86:1 ratio for churches in the States! Baptisms are a key indicator to overall church health.

Why has the American church become evangelistically anemic? Thom of course gives several reasons in his article, but I would like to capitalize on just one of them, 'Christians in churches often get caught up in the minor issues and fail to become passionate about the major issue of evangelism...'

I honestly believe most Stateside churches have more to learn from Guayaquil believers than the other way around!

What differences are there between our Ecuadorian national brethren and their Stateside counterparts? Why are the folks here so much more effective with their evangelism than Stateside Christians? I can identify at least seven overlapping things I see the house church believers consistently doing that isn't usually seen in most Stateside churches:

1) Praying daily for lost. Talk to any of the believers in a Guayaquil house church and they will show you their list of people they pray for daily of unsaved family, friends, neighbors.

2) Active regular sharing of the Gospel. It is a very natural part of their Christian walk to share the Gospel with people they encounter in their daily lives. Christ has made such a difference in their lives, and they cannot help but share this with those they come in contact with.

3) Planning regular evangelistic events. The house churches plan regular evangelistic events inviting those they are praying for to attend (concerts, outdoor street meetings, special programs, family conferences, DVD/Videos, invited guest speakers, neighborhood evangelistic door-to-door blitzes, etc.)

4) Visiting the sick and personally ministering to lost friends, neighbors and family in times of crisis. They are very good about visiting sick people outside of their church family, praying for their healing and ministering to lost family and friends during difficult times.

5) Not distracted by a lot of outside issues like Thom Rainer mentions above. We too have our sticky issues, but they are more along the lines of things like can unmarried couples who get saved be baptized? How to counsel people with difficult problems? How to discern if someone is demon possessed or just emotionally unstable? How to handle questions that Roman Catholics always ask? Why doesn't God always heal someone when they are prayed for? If I were to share with them (and I don't) the issues that are causing all the uproar in the IMB and SBC these days, they would shake their heads in disbelief!

6) Intentionally focus on evangelism as a life priority. Talk to any of them and they will tell you that their ministry is to win/disciple at least eight people this year. They expect God to give them these souls and are consciously praying and working to achieve this goal.

7) They maintain friendships/relationships with lost friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. They play ball on the street with them, visit them in their homes, minister to them in times of need. How are we ever supposed to win people to the Lord if we have little/no relationship with the lost? How is a Christian supposed to win lost people if they do not even know any? Folks here know plenty of lost people whom they are burdened for their salvation.


He adds in a subsequent post,
I like to doodle with numbers. So out of curiosity I sat down and was able to come up with a rough calculation of just how much each of our baptized converts cost last year. I figured the monetary value by adding the...

-total yearly support received for our three missionary units
-estimate of the total net yearly offerings of 100 house churches
-total yearly income for two national team members families
-operating funds made available to our team through the IMB

...that sum was divided by our baptisms last year. The total cost of each comes out to $375.90. This was a shockingly high figure for me to come to grips with!

If you take out the two biggest $ amount categories which are the support for the three foreign missionary units plus the IMB operating funds, the amount is reduced to $66.45 per baptized convert (maintaining overseas missionaries is expensive!) But then again, the question arises, would there have been more or fewer results without our presence? Only God knows.

However, I was COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY this past week after reading James Rutz's, Megashifts. On page 117 he quotes Barrett and Johnson from their World Christian Trends. Their own calculation for the cost of each U.S. institutional church baptism is...

$1,551,466!!!

Guy has a great take on things as an insider, now an outsider, with big questions.

Comments

Joe said…
Those stats are astonishing at every level!

We need to get to work!

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