When it first appeared in 1999, Dr. Victor Choudhrie's Greet the Church in Your House ruffled more than a few feathers. Defenders of traditional church planting and mission models found the book's ideas iconoclastic. Dr. Choudhrie's book has now been revised and relaunched for the e-book generation.
I first met Dr. Choudhrie in 2002, while serving as a missionary in India. Even before that, though, I seemed to hear his name from everyone who was seeing multiplying movements of new churches in India. All roads to movements seemed to pass through Dr. Choudhrie's influence. Victor and Bindu's passion for the unreached and deep insights into Scriptural models for the Christian life, made them natural gurus for generations of young missionaries and local church planters who wanted to see fidelity to New Testament patterns and the dynamism that accompanied it in their own ministries. The Choudhries did not disappoint.
Despite whatever grumblings accompanied Dr. Choudhrie's Greet the Church in Your House many readers also found his ideas strangely familiar. Weren't these the same images of church that emerged from the pages of the New Testament? Wasn't this the vibrant life of faith promised by Christ and His apostles?
Though exegetical in nature, Choudhrie's writings have never been limited to biblical exegesis. Dr. Choudhrie is also a pioneer church planter and mentor of church-planting movements. This on-the-ground experience keeps his ideas fresh and relevant to missionaries and church planters who need real-life applications to the biblical lessons they've learned all their life.
The Baptist Press recently posted an article about David Barrett, a tremendous missions researcher and advocate for unreached people groups (UPGs) who died recently on August 4, 2011. His work has been instrumental in the development of the modern missions paradigm. Read the full article at http://www.bpnews.net/BPNews.asp?ID=35901.
What does a missional church look like? The best way to find out is to examine both their heart and their fruit. First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas is a church with a heart that expresses itself through fruitful missions. They are out to change the world. Pastor Dennis Wiles and his partner in marriage and missions, Cindy Wiles, are leading their church to be on mission with God.
The church’s Global Ministries offer opportunities for their members to get directly involved in the U.S., Latin America and West Africa, not to mention a host of mission opportunities in restricted access countries that go unnamed on their website.
So, what is preventing Mission Arlington and its nearly 300 “church starts” from becoming a Church Planting Movement?
Beyond this personal global involvement, FBC Arlington hosts a mission house for furloughing foreign missionaries, and actively supports international missions through such agencies as the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
The most dynamic fruit of FBC Arlington’s missional passion has come through the ministry of one of their members, and now associate pastor for missions, 72 year-old Tillie Burgin. Tillie accepted Christ, grew as a Christian, and heard her call to missions through FBC Arlington. Tillie, her husband Bob, and her two children spent 10 years as missionaries in South Korea.
Due to the illness of one of their children, the Burgins returned from the foreign field in the late 70's. While Bob took a job as a local school principal, his wife Tillie began doing for Arlington what she and her family had been doing in Korea. The result was Mission Arlington. Mission Arlington is one of the most vibrant church planting forces in the United States today. Since 1986, Mission Arlington has started nearly 300 churches in the Arlington-Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
So, what is preventing Mission Arlington and its nearly 300 “church starts” from qualifying as a Church Planting Movement? To find out more, download and read the case study here...