I was just reading the June 2006 edition of the Lausanne Pulse, which suddenly appeared without reason on my ’emerging church radar’ and I noticed that the word “emerging” is quite prominent. There are articles on reaching the “emerging generation” and mentoring “emerging leaders” and even an article by Leighton Ford entitled “The Emerging Church – Then and Now“
But the best read by far is an interview with Brother Fred Flack, a 100+ year old gentleman missionary, and the other part of UK’s oldest twins, who spent over 40 years overseas helping to develop an indigenous church movement in I*ndia.
Which they have in bucket loads at the moment. In fact, there was a conference that happened this week in that country where some friends gathered to discuss and celebrate the efforts of organic simple house church movements. Some have arrived home already. I was hoping to be there myself but BUUUMMMMERRRRRR! I could not make it. The indigenous church there has so much to teach us. But I really don’t think a national indigenous movement on this scale would not have been possible without supporters and cheerleaders, over many decades, like Brother Flack, Brother Bakht Singh, E. Stanley Jones, Sadhu Sundar Singh, thousand of anonymous servants, and the leaders of the Christian Ashram movement that enabled an indigenous theology, worship and emerging church forms to arise. This is the country that inspired Lesslie Newbigin and Donald McGavran to think differently about church and mission.
But back to the interview, Brother Flack: Missionary offers insight to Younger Missionaries
Chacko Thomas – What advice would you have for missionaries going to the mission field?
Brother Flack – “Go as a learner. Be prepared to learn from the national people and from the culture of the country. Do not try to make the churches like the one in your own country. Do everything you can to develop indigenous growth. Do not be masters; be servants. Identify in every way you can with the people God puts you among. You are there to establish self-supporting; self-governing and self-propagating churches.
Do not go first to the villages. The Lord and the apostles started in the cities and towns. They were less conspicuous there. When missionaries are mostly among the poor, their converts will be “rice Christians” and any developing leadership will be “yes men.” This is fatal for spiritual development. . . .
Missionaries must be prepared to live a very simple lifestyle. Only then will the people feel we are one of them. National believers who are sent away to Bible school abroad for training are of little use when they return because they have developed a different lifestyle. Our Lord Jesus and the apostles did not establish institutional centres, Bible colleges or schools.”
Now is it just me or is this guy not the PATRON FLIPPIN’ SAINT of the emerging church?
Previously on TSK: I have talked briefly on the house church movement in this country at Slice of Nicolatia and What can Europe learn from 1ndia? as well as an article I wrote for Christianity Today entitled What did you go out to see?