Imagine starting a congregation of the church with a group of leaders who all committed to disappear within 15 years of its establishment. In addition, those coming into the congregation were frequently made aware that the current leaders would be leaving at some point.
Obviously, that would be an obstacle for any congregation, and the challenges are obvious…
- Establishment of the new congregation.
- Enough maturity among the new believers to carry out the vision for the congregation.
- Mature and wise leaders who can care for the congregation.
- Trust between the new believers and the new leaders in order to experience what the Lord intended for the local church, which is love, confession, spiritual maturity, etc.
In Scripture, I always sense an element of urgency when God is calling those to lead in his church. Jesus’ Great Commission sounds urgent, and his appearance to the apostles in Acts 1 is brief and abrupt. The missionary Paul didn’t waste time with the young evangelists he was discipling. For such a daunting task, Paul still doesn’t eliminate the element of urgency. In one of the many passages where he is giving instructions to Timothy, he says in 2 Timothy 2:2…
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
In Cusco, we as the missionaries find ourselves in this same struggle. On the one hand, we are tasked with the goal of establishing a church, and that phrase includes so many other challenges. On the other hand, it was never intended to be a permanent missionary presence. The longer we stay the more, new challenges appear on the horizon.
A couple of years ago we began identifying some potential leaders and shared with them our vision and our belief that they could serve the church in a specific way. The problem was that we were constantly talking about it, but never providing a clear path. We were waiting for them to take the initiative, and they in turn were waiting for a similar response from us.
So we decided to form a pathway with clear and specific expectations. We were looking for active members, which means those who are involved in worship, discipleship and evangelism on a weekly basis. They were committed to these areas, not out of personal ambition, but because they understood Christianity. Once we identified two men, second, we invited them into areas of leadership, such as small group leadership, one-on-one studies and leading during the worship service on Sundays. They served in this area for about six months before we eventually invited them into an internship. For the past four months we’ve enjoyed working with two interns, and they have committed themselves to teaching courses, preaching, evangelism, serving the congregation and discipling others who can also serve in a leadership capacity. They are currently discipling four other men.
The two men, Percy and Elvis, are being sent out by the congregation to study in a Bible institute for four years, beginning in February. This will be the second-to-last phase of the Leadership Pathway. The last will of course be their return to our congregation in order to serve in some capacity, whether it be as an evangelist or a missionary for another, newly-formed congregation. Both are extremely talented and have strong ties to our congregation. Last week, Elvis married his fiancee, Yolanda, and the two will study together in the Bible institute.
As a congregation, we are excited about this new phase. There are other milestones as well. We’re currently considering and praying for the formation of elders and deacons. The immediate task is to look to encourage and identify other future leaders. Percy and Elvis have been so essential to the congregation that we’ll experience a great loss in 2016.
We feel the sense of urgency, and we know are challenges. Please pray for us as we attempt to be intentional about this important aspect of the work in Cusco.